Friday, January 12, 2018

Beta reading announcement

Hello, readers, friends, and countrymen.

Over the Christmas and New Year holidays, I did a lot of thinking and studying about my writing and business, and also about some of the ways I've been spending my time. I came to a decision that I wanted to tell you all about.

It's a guinea pig with a book! Get it? Get it?
 Beta reading has always been something I've wanted to do for my friends. Coaching, critiquing, and teaching is to me an incredibly important way that I can build into the life of someone who may one day far excel me as an author. As RJ Rushdoony once said, "The world was not empty when we were born into it, and we are not supposed to leave it poorer because we have been here." I know I can make the world a richer place by sharing what I've learned about my art, and that's been my vision in beta reading for my friends.


In 2017 I did somewhere in the vicinity of 375,000 words' worth of beta reading for friends. On top of that, it transpires that a Suzannah Rowntree Beta Reading Experience is probably not a lot like the beta reading you'd normally get. It's more on the level of a manuscript critique or a development edit, because I'm afraid I take the whole beta reading thing way too seriously. It involves hours and hours' worth of work and thought on top of existing commitments. It involves spending time distilling pages' worth of notes into a lengthy feedback email or for major works, 2-3 hours on the phone. And it draws on everything I've learned over years of teaching myself the writing craft.

I often try to dial it back to something a bit more chill. It hasn't worked. I don't seem to have a setting for "chill".

As I've met more budding authors, grown in my own craft, and gained more of a community online, the demands on my time through beta reading have become more frequent and the quality of my feedback has become much higher. Meanwhile other financially profitable avenues have been opening up to me through my writing. My time is becoming more valuable and more rare. Taking these considerations and advice from my parents into account, I have decided that I need to start calling what I do by its real name - manuscript critique - and charging a fee for it.

From now on, if you'd like me to critique your story, it's going to cost you AU$5 per 1,000 words. This is below what a professional would charge you. If it's a chilled-out, friendly beta read you're after, then there are dozens of people you know personally who can give you that. I can't give you that, but I can give you something a lot more challenging and a lot more informative. I'm sorry I'm having to start charging for it, but I know that if I do, I'll have the opportunity to go on doing it.

If you have any questions about this, please don't hesitate to shoot me an email. In the meantime, happy New Year! I'm looking forward to a busy and productive 2018 and will be back next week with another review!


Hamlette (Rachel) said...


I will do my best to remember this, and send people your way when opportunities present themselves. Because I know a lot of writers who can't afford a "pro" editing job, but desperately need more than just a friendly beta. I think you could do well with this.

Suzannah said...

Thanks, Rachel :) I'll still be limiting the amount of time I spend critiquing just because it's not the main thing I do with myself, but feel free to refer folks who might need something of the sort.

Sophia White said...

I know you've never beta-read anything of mine, but I think the way you do it is actually really good. It's the kind of thing that will make a writer squee to see that "someone else is taking my story seriously!" and then brace for a lot of comments that will cut to the heart of the story and make room for some painful but good growth. So don't worry about not having a "chill" setting. I appreciate getting that kind of critique, and would like to someday be able to give it myself.

Suzannah said...

Thanks, Sophia :)

Kimia Wood said...

It can be hard to know how to best follow your own calling, while trying to help those around you as well.
Knowing and respecting the value of your own time is important. Good luck with your new venture! :)

Suzannah said...

Thanks, Kimia!

Jillian said...

* I don't seem to have a setting for "chill". *

Uh, this is me. Good call, the above.

Suzannah said...

Heh! Thanks, Jillian. :)


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