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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Beta Reader (Especially for Kiki) Qualifications

Tune Up Tuesday with Sally Lippert

MY JOURNEY AS A READER...

When I first started reading Joanna's pre-published work, my goal was to get through the book or short story as quickly as possible to find out "who done it?"

But Joanna encouraged me to take my time and look for problematic areas. As I did, memories of my youth came back to me. You see, I grew up with an aunt, who was head of the English department at my high school.

 My aunt never had any children, so I became her "chosen one" to be the best. She was extremely tough taskmaster when it came to proper English. (No, it did not make my school days easier!)

Then I switched career paths and went into nursing. My reading and writing skills consisted mostly of working with patients' charts. Definitely not creative writing. It was more about "painting a picture" of patient care in case you were ever called to give a deposition in a law suit.

Needless to say, my skill level deteriorated until I met Joanna. 

Interacting with her awesome tribe of Beta Readers has challenged me to remember my aunt's lessons on grammar, punctuation, and even diagraming sentences.

CHOOSING AND MAINTAINING A STYLE...


Of course, a lot has changed since my time in high school. English is an evolving language, adding thousands of new words each year. The usage of computers has forced changes upon us. Whereas I was taught to double-space after the end of a sentence, we now are told to use only one space.

Joanna and I decided that we needed one reference that we both could turn to for answers. She owned The Gregg Reference Manual, so she bought me my own copy. We're also compiling a style sheet just for the Kiki and Cara Mia books. A style sheet goes beyond the reference manual to keep small details consistent from one Kiki book to the other. For example, when Kiki flips the sign over at Time in a Bottle, it says OPEN or CLOSED in all capital letters. That's a small thing, but one that must remain the same from book to book and story to story.

Here's another example. Did you know that there's no full stop (period) after the letter "r" in Dr Pepper? That's right. It was dropped in the 1950s. So that, too, will go into our style sheet.
 
WHAT IS A BETA READER?

Wikipedia describes a beta reader as someone who brings "a critical eye, with the aim of improving grammar, spelling, characterization, and general style of a story prior to its release to the general public."

But that definition doesn't begin to define what you offer Joanna. Beyond the help you offer by reading and commenting on early versions of the work, you are a valued sounding board and cheering section. Because you are so invested in the series, your opinions matter greatly to us.

COULD YOU QUALIFY AS A BETA?

Do you like to read any genre in fiction?

Are you familiar with the basic rules of grammar and punctuation? 

Do you enjoy watching a series grow and evolve?

These are all qualities that we value in our Beta Readers. Most of all, we appreciate the dedication and candor that our Betas bring to their reading. While Joanna might not take every suggestion that's offered, I can tell you that she considers it. Often she and I will discuss the suggestions and decide whether she needs to follow them! (You'd be surprised at how much she cares about creating a satisfying reading experience. Then again, maybe it wouldn't surprise you. After all, you know her work.)
 
The Beta Readers bring their individuality to each and every story and book. We LOVE all of your input because you are so committed to Kiki. (And now to Cara Mia.)
 
A BIG SHOUT OUT!

I want to thank each and everyone of you for all you have given me--and of course, Joanna says she couldn't write without you!

 

2 comments:

Malra H said...

How does one become a beta reader? I'd love to be able to join that team!

Joanna Slan said...

Great question! Email Sally at salfl27@att.net and let her know that you are interested. She'll take it from there.