Should You become a Beta Reader?

Illustration by Ruby Borden

You may be wondering what a Beta Reader is? It’s someone who volunteers to read a draft manuscript and give copious feedback to the author. T

My latest novel is at the point where I need to know if I should put more time into polishing it. Also, I need to know if it works or there are major issues to fix (or are worth fixing). After I get your feedback, I’ll decide to abandon the project or continue with the next round of editing (and or rewriting). If it passes this test, I’ll approach publishers / agents and etc.

I only want Beta Readers who want to read this kind of book… part historical fiction, part science fiction, part metaphysical exploration… If you read the description below and think this isn’t your cup of tea, please do not inquire. I only people interested in the genre. If you only read horror or thrillers, you won’t like this book…

What’s “The Dreaming” About?

What if you were given the opportunity to reach just beyond the event horizon, into the story beyond the story? That’s “The Dreaming.”

The novel asks us to think about the fictions we believe. One of the defining characteristics of humans is our ability to conceive of fictions in which to live– everything from clock time to money to mythological and economic systems. This story blurs history, utopian and dystopian futures, myth, and a touch of magic into an epic journey across space, time, and death itself.

The Traveler has roamed the Earth for more than 200,000 years in one body after another in search of his soulmate and the meaning of existence. The Traveler first appears as a young boy in paleolithic Africa, where he promises the beautiful, Adaku, to follow her anywhere. This relationship launches the Traveler into twenty, time-bending, gender-bending lives through Ancient Egypt, Mesoamerica, plague ravaged Italy, a near future refugee crisis in Japan, a technologically advanced Korea, and a moon colony, to name a few. 

The story is influenced by the time bending narratives of David Mitchell and Haruki Murakami

What I’m asking of Beta Readers:

I’ll send you a paperback copy of the manuscript so you will be able to read it and mark directly on the pages as you go. Please take notes, underline, make suggestions (and corrections), or whatever feels necessary. Once you have finished marking up the book, please mail it back to me at the address included in the accompanying letter. Also, I’d appreciate it if you’d answer some, if not all, of the questions below and send them back to me, as well. 

  1. Did the story hold your interest from the very beginning? If not, why not?
  2. Could you relate to the main character? 
  3. Did the setting interest you and did the descriptions seem vivid and real to you? 
  4. Was there a point at which you felt the story lagged or you became less than excited about finding out what was going to happen next? Where, exactly? 
  5. Were there any parts that confused you? Or even frustrated or annoyed you? Which parts, and why? Were those frustrations resolved by the end of the book?
  6. Did you notice any discrepancies or inconsistencies in time sequences, places, character details, or other details?
  7. Were the characters believable? Are there any characters you think could be made more interesting or more likable?
  8. Did you get confused about who’s who in the characters? Were there too many characters to keep track of? Too few? Are any of the names of characters too similar?
  9. Did the dialogue keep your interest and sound natural to you? If not, whose dialogue did you think sounded artificial or not like that person would speak?
  10. Did you feel there was too much description or exposition? Not enough? Maybe too much dialogue in parts?
  11. Was there enough conflict, tension, and intrigue to keep your interest?
  12. Was the ending satisfying? Believable?
  13. Did you notice any obvious, repeating grammatical, spelling, punctuation or capitalization errors? Examples?
  14. Do you think the writing style suits the genre? If not, why not?

If you still want to become a beta reader, contact me by email at grimfargle@gmail.com. You’ll need to send me you mailing address, so I can mail you the paper manuscript.

The Dreaming: Seeking a Few Beta Readers
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