Question about manuscript readers

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BlancheKing
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Question about manuscript readers

Post by BlancheKing » April 7th, 2010, 4:53 pm

After much thought, I've decided that two things are true about all writers.

1) At least once a week, we have something else we should be doing, but are not because we're editing their manuscripts.
2) We're all very lonely people, as no one wants to talk about our manuscript with us because they have classes/ jobs/ short attention spans.

And now for the real question: how many other people have actually finished reading your manuscripts and gone through it with a red pen. I've had 10-20 people try, most making it to chapter 2 or 3 before or midterms/finals kick in, a few to chapter 4 (same reason), and one to chapter 15 before their spare time is used up. The rest had to be taken apart chapter by chapter and were looked at by different people. The general consensus is that they don't want to put in days and days of effort without something to show for it. As a close friend was good enough to point out, "if you get published, then you get paid. But what about the rest of us?"
Is this a problem amongst adults too, or just young adults?
One manuscript, One dream, One stack of stamps that needs to be bought...
Writing Process: http://blancheking.blogspot.com/

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Bryan Russell/Ink
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Re: Question about manuscript readers

Post by Bryan Russell/Ink » April 7th, 2010, 6:19 pm

Lol, maybe you just know a lot of selfish people. But, really, I think it does depend a lot on the individuals. I have a crit group, and occasionally extra critters, where it's usually a tradeoff. I crit for you, you crit for me. I've had a few people just want to read, and they did so. The other people who read are family. Wife, mother, sister, brother-in-law. All are book people, though, and of the supportive nature. It's probably a little different, say, with college friends, who have to read for finals and papers and who want to spend their free time trying to pickle their livers. Who has the time and motivation? I think that's key, but it will vary greatly depending on the people and the situation.

Best,
Ink
The Alchemy of Writing at www.alchemyofwriting.blogspot.com

Margo
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Re: Question about manuscript readers

Post by Margo » April 7th, 2010, 6:36 pm

I'm one of those people who does sit down with someone else's ms with the red pen, though I prefer the whole ms at once instead of piecing out the chapters to me. I do it because (gawd help me) I actually like editing and (on a selfish note) I find it sharpens my skills for writing and for editing my own work. Unfortunately, I have not yet encountered another member of my particular, peculiar sub-species to return the favor. The one person who would like to help doesn't have the time. Others promise and then flake out on me. Still others just don't have the necessary skills to be all that helpful.
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/

BlancheKing
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Re: Question about manuscript readers

Post by BlancheKing » April 7th, 2010, 6:42 pm

From the sounds of it, I should find some working adults to edit my manuscript, but where would be a good place to look for local critique groups?

I've tried to look Craig's list, but it said we didn't have any within bus distance. My last English teacher (and this due to sheer bad luck) happened to be also in the process of writing her own book (literary something or other), so she was not very helpful. Lastly, my parents were immigrants, so their English is professionally-orientated at best, and choppy to be accurate. I'm starting to wish I had siblings...

@ Margo: I wish I knew you in real life, but I know what you mean by flaking out. I had one person disappear with a printout of five chapters and never got back to me. Oh and, funny joke. One of my friends (an engineer-hopeful) attempted to edit my book, read one page, tried to substitute a word with "hypothetically", and spelled it so badly that even microsoft word couldn't figure it out. Then he and another engineer-hopeful spent the next five minutes discussing the spelling of "hypothetically"
One manuscript, One dream, One stack of stamps that needs to be bought...
Writing Process: http://blancheking.blogspot.com/

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HillaryJ
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Re: Question about manuscript readers

Post by HillaryJ » April 8th, 2010, 2:47 am

It's helpful to have the exchange with a dedicated critique partner that you get along with and can trust. Where do we find these people? *shrugs*

I sat down with a few friends who aren't writers and told them I would inflict BETA reading on them, three chapters at a time, and that if they didn't want to read or respond, I wouldn't hold it against them. I find that some hold back because they don't want to upset me with questions or criticisms. A couple understand that I want to succeed at this, and if their questions/crits can help with that, that's great. Unfortunately, even with those who get it and have some aptitude, life still gets in the way.

AbsoluteWrite.com has a "desperately seeking BETA reader" section, but that's hit or miss and timing/luck seems the only way that good readers/writers find one another.
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Re: Question about manuscript readers

Post by Margo » April 8th, 2010, 11:26 am

BlancheKing wrote:@ Margo: I wish I knew you in real life, but I know what you mean by flaking out. I had one person disappear with a printout of five chapters and never got back to me. Oh and, funny joke. One of my friends (an engineer-hopeful) attempted to edit my book, read one page, tried to substitute a word with "hypothetically", and spelled it so badly that even microsoft word couldn't figure it out. Then he and another engineer-hopeful spent the next five minutes discussing the spelling of "hypothetically"
Ha! I married one of those guys! I'm glad I don't write sci-fi, or he'd never get off page one. I'd die of old age, and he'd never notice while he passed year after year deep in contemplation and philosophical debate as to the theoretical underpinnings of the sound made by an automatic door.

I'm also tempted to offer my services as a long-distance reader. However, while I am a really rather good at it, my skills are diminished significantly if your genre isn't fantasy.
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/

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Lorelei Armstrong
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Re: Question about manuscript readers

Post by Lorelei Armstrong » April 8th, 2010, 3:59 pm

Wow, a problem I didn't know existed. I've never had a beta reader quit before the end.

BlancheKing
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Re: Question about manuscript readers

Post by BlancheKing » April 8th, 2010, 4:14 pm

@ Margo: any chance I can mooch some of your time? =D

@ Lorelei: Maybe it's the area, but the average person here doesn't seem to read much. Most of them have never heard of Ibsen, Camus, and some went as far as to not know who Agatha Christie was. Then there are those who, like Ink said, would rather drink and chuck than read. I've had some of them come back from a bookstore and tell me that they didn't like it because everyone being pretentious by reading. I'm not even sure what to say to that.
One manuscript, One dream, One stack of stamps that needs to be bought...
Writing Process: http://blancheking.blogspot.com/

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marilyn peake
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Re: Question about manuscript readers

Post by marilyn peake » April 8th, 2010, 6:10 pm

Thoroughly editing a manuscript takes such a huge amount of time, it usually amounts to more time than most people have available without giving up sleep. :) There are many online writers’ critique groups ... although it’s important to find a good one because some groups are made up of writers who give bad advice or who have a mean approach. That said, there are some truly wonderful online writers’ groups. Also, writers can pay professional editors to critique their manuscripts.
Marilyn Peake

Novels: THE FISHERMAN’S SON TRILOGY and GODS IN THE MACHINE. Numerous short stories. Contributor to BOOK: THE SEQUEL. Editor of several additional books. Awards include Silver Award, 2007 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards.

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Lorelei Armstrong
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Re: Question about manuscript readers

Post by Lorelei Armstrong » April 8th, 2010, 6:26 pm

BlancheKing wrote:@ Margo: any chance I can mooch some of your time? =D

@ Lorelei: Maybe it's the area, but the average person here doesn't seem to read much. Most of them have never heard of Ibsen, Camus, and some went as far as to not know who Agatha Christie was. Then there are those who, like Ink said, would rather drink and chuck than read. I've had some of them come back from a bookstore and tell me that they didn't like it because everyone being pretentious by reading. I'm not even sure what to say to that.
Oh, dear. Not the folks you'd want for your beta readers.

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Re: Question about manuscript readers

Post by Margo » April 8th, 2010, 7:03 pm

BlancheKing wrote:@ Margo: any chance I can mooch some of your time? =D
I sent you PM! :) I thought I better tell you since I'm not PM savvy.
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/

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mmcdonald64
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Re: Question about manuscript readers

Post by mmcdonald64 » April 10th, 2010, 12:30 pm

I've found that people on blogs or writing forums are the best places to find readers. I had two people offer in the first month of my blog. By the same token, last year, someone was looking for a person to read their YA novel. I offered and did it. It was a friendly back and forth between the author and me, but we didn't correspond after that, then, just a week ago, she email me again to see if I'd read her second YA. I now have it sitting on my computer. I don't expect her to read mine in return, but perhaps she'll read someone else's manuscript, and that person will pay it forward also.

Krista G.
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Re: Question about manuscript readers

Post by Krista G. » April 10th, 2010, 2:33 pm

I've tried forcing manuscripts on friends and family, too, and although most of them have finished it, their critiques are usually something along the lines of "I liked it, except for chapter four." Nobody can critique the way a working manuscript needs to be critiqued like a (decent) writer.

So I agree with mmcdonald64: Network with other writers. Find some people whose opinions you trust and who you know are actually decent writers themselves. (The only way to do this is to read some blogs and forum posts to get a feel for their personalities and writing abilities.) And then offer to become critique partners. I've found some amazing online writer friends, and I've only been really active in the online writing community for a few months.

Good luck!
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Quill
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Re: Question about manuscript readers

Post by Quill » April 10th, 2010, 4:17 pm

Great tips and advice, mmcdonald and krista.

I'm new at finding readers and getting close to the point of needing feedback. My main writing time is during the winter months, so by this fall I'd love to have a critique partner, too. I agree that it's pretty important to find people to think and write at least somewhat along the same lines. I don't think I'd be a good reader, for instance, for someone who primarily writes romance.

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Re: Question about manuscript readers

Post by tameson » April 10th, 2010, 7:42 pm

While some non-writer's are pretty bad (I have a good friend who pretty much just gives me "that was great" feedback and another who will try to rewrite things which sounds extremely awkward because our voices are very different), some can be excellent. My husband gives great feedback. He hates everything I write and has no problem telling me that, including detailed reasons why. While this sounds really negative, he often makes very good points. And to be fair, he actually does not hate everything I write and can be supportive, but he holds me to a higher standard than anything published he might read. As far as profession, he is an engineer with a master's in math. He knows grammar and spelling better than most English majors (his mom teachers AP Senior English and enforced those skills in her kids from day one).

I am hoping to find some more readers after another editing pass on my novel, which I will do by posting over at a writer's forum I frequent and offering a chapter exchange (I'll read yours if you read mine). There are also places like critters where you can enter your stuff, though you need to keep credits high for those.

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