Submission guidelines are very difficult from some writers. It is worth the time to read submission guidelines and have a conversation with the beta reader before deciding that you want to send them pages.
Nothing makes my job harder than an author that can’t follow submission guidelines. It doesn’t seem professional and it doesn’t make me want to continue working with them.
There are reasons that betas write out their submission guidelines the way they do. Or only accept a certain number of pages at a time.
Writers need to remember that betas are doing this because they want to not because they have to.
Here are some of the things that I have noticed during the submission process:
Betas usually have specific procedures in their submission guidelines. If they don’t, they should. For me, all those instructions are there for reasons. If a writer doesn’t follow those procedures from the get-go I will not accept their submissions. I’ve done it a couple times and regret it now.
If directions can’t be followed in the beginning, later on they won’t be followed either. To me, it doesn’t seem professional or respectful of the beta’s time.
If your beta is doing this for free, they will be doing you a favor. Just think about how you would ask for a favor and apply that attitude to the way you approach submitting your work.
Finding a beta that’s the right fit for you is important. Taking your time to talk to the potential beta will help you make this decision.
Do they fit your target audience demographic? Is their process going to be at a speed you’re comfortable with?
Think about the things that you’re looking for in a beta reader and ask them some questions. The writer and the beta will save a lot of time and frustration in the long run if they just talk about what the process will entail first (and any other fun things they may want to know about each other).
Number of Pages
In my guidelines, I only accept a certain number of pages at a time. Usually 2 or 3 chapters. Some betas will only accept one chapter. Some will accept the whole book. Find out what will work for you.
In my case, I accept this number because I like to work with multiple authors and I only have so much time to provide feedback — mostly just on Mondays. Those pages usually add up, on top of being able to give quality feedback. I’ve had weeks where I’ve had to read 250+ pages on top of providing feedback. Trust me, it’s a labor of love.
Betas, if you’re like me and like to read multiple books at a time, I recommend reading radically different stories so you don’t get confused. And keeping notes with the time line and any other areas you need to reference later. In some cases, I’ve had to reread the last chapter from the submission before with two similar stories. Definitely think about how much of a workload you can realistically manage so you don’t torture your writers to death with the waiting.
Writers need to pay attention to this detail too. This beta won’t read more if you send more. If this rule is broken a couple of times, you may well get booted. And definitely won’t get all those pages read anyway. It sends a signal that you aren’t respecting your beta’s process.
Something strange that happens, sometimes a beta will send feedback to a writer and never hear anything from them. As if they have mysteriously disappeared we’re left wondering what’s going on there.
As a rule, I don’t hound writers to send me more chapters. The lack of communication speaks volumes.
The thing that really confuses me is when the writer will disappear for a few weeks. They didn’t let me know they received the feedback. They didn’t tell me the status of our interaction. Nothing… And they just send pages. Like I’m a magic feedback vending machine. This doesn’t work for me. I just drop them. And I let them know.
Same goes for betas. If you receive pages, let your writer know how long it will take for them to get feedback. They will probably be going crazy waiting to know if you like it. If you make a deadline for the day you send feedback, stick to it. If you can’t make the deadline… let them know. When you don’t let a writer know what’s going on it looks unprofessional and will hurt your reputation in the long run.
Reliability is key.
It’s important to communicate with us. We don’t necessarily need to know what you thought of the feedback. Although, I love getting into conversations with writers about their books. It’s one of my favorite parts of the process and it’s what brings me back.
We just need to know what’s going on and whether you want to send more.
This speaks to the overall issue. Writers and betas are both guilty of this. There will always be those that don’t let you know what’s going on with them. But that doesn’t mean that you have to work with them. There are plenty of betas. And betas know, there are TONS of writers out there.
It makes me sad when I have to dump a writer with a story that I really like. Or one that has the potential to be amazing. But I have done it. More times than not, it’s figured out pretty early into the process whether it will work. That helps.
I’m sure that I have missed things and will probably mention them in another post sometime.
The point is find someone that is a good fit for your process. There are a lot of people out there that just don’t work. Putting together a good team of betas is better than having a bunch of terrible ones. Likewise, finding writers that appreciate beta readers get much more quality and love from the good ones.
This is the third installment in my submissions series. If you want to learn more about writing submission guidelines or advice on how many pages to accept, here are some links: