Beta Reader Speed Dating
Pitch your story to prospective beta readers and seek out books you'd like to beta-read. The event
takes took place on March 4th at 12pm (US Central Time).
Why speed dating?
Finding a beta reader can be difficult. You can, of course, ask friends to give you impressions, but friends may be more concerned about you than your book and may not give you an unbiased assessment. So it’s a good idea to get some beta impressions from relative strangers, people who will engage with the work itself, knowing very little about the creator of said work.
But how do you find such strangers? Well, you can search online; there are plenty of places where people will propose trades. But if you’ve had trouble finding such sites or they’ve scared you off because everything is just too anonymous or you feel you want to have a least a little sense of who this person is who might be spending time with your passion project, then this speed dating experiment might be worth trying.
How does it work?
We all gather in a Zoom meeting. As host, I cycle you through one-on-one breakout rooms with other writers looking for beta readers. You meet with each person for just six minutes. Talk about your project, get a feel for the other writer’s, and then get shuffled off to another meeting and repeat the process.
A lot will depend on the numbers that turn up, but I envision cycling through six people, taking a little breather, and then cycling through 5-6 more. So you’ll talk quickly with 11-12 people.
Enroll in the event on this page. You'll create an account through my site, but my newsletter is optional .
Submit Your Sentence
Once you're enrolled, you'll submit a one-sentence synopsis of your story and your contact information.
Attend the speed dating
On March 4th, we'll get together for approximately an hour and a half via Zoom to meet other writers and learn about their books. (The session will not be recorded.)
Select books to read
After the speed dating event, I’ll send out a list of the writers and their one-sentence synopses, and ask you which you'd like to read.
Get your list of readers
I’ll send each writer a list of their potential readers. No guarantees about how many that will be. You may get ten; you may get none.
It will be up to the writers to contact those readers and arrange to send manuscripts. You can consider following the guidance I've put together here, but you may proceed however you'd like to.
Is this an exchange? No
In this iteration of the speed dating, this is not an exchange of manuscripts. Why not? Well, let’s say one writer—we’ll call him Shane—has written a fantasy novel. Shane enjoys reading fantasy but also loves historical fiction and memoir. And let’s say another writer—we’ll call her Lulu—has written a memoir and mostly reads memoir. Shane, who reads several memoirs every year, may be a good beta reader for Lulu; but Lulu, who never reads fantasy, may not be the best beta reader for Shane.
I think we want beta readers who hear about a book and get excited to read it since that’s how book purchasing happens in the real world.
This whole thing doubles as practice pitching, since you’ll have to get good at talking about your book, distilling it down to its essence, but also trying to draw readers in. You’ll have approximately three minutes to tell someone else about your book, so be sure to prepare.
The Karma Caveat
An understood ethos of writers involved in beta reading is that you try to give back what you receive. So even though you could come out of this speed dating with five beta readers for your work but with no books to read yourself, I’d urge you to give back in some way to the overall writing community. Pay it forward to someone else at some point.
Is it for you?
If you have a completed book that you’re ready to get feedback on, then yes. We’re not looking for works-in-progress. For that, you might want a critique partner, but not a beta reader. Beta readers are reading the “beta” version of your story. So usually it’s a second draft of the full manuscript.
If you’d like to give this a try and if it fits in your schedule,
you can sign up below. It takes took place on March 4th at 12pm US Central time. Convert to your time zone here. Since this is the pilot version of the speed-dating, you get the guinea pig price of just $5. Questions? Email me: [email protected]