Beta Reading Info
I can beta read most anything, and I have a high tolerance for horrific scenes, sex, and other dark or questionable things. I might want a heads up with anything involving child abuse or child rape, but I rarely have issues reading (or writing) such things. Please also warn me if your book is aimed at young adults or children, as my suggestions will differ from books aimed at adults. I also happily edit crossover materials--fantasy/romance, horror/fantasy, science fantasy, or whatever you come up with.
I will also need it noted if English is your second language--please trust me, I will not pick up on you not being a native speaker on my own. I edit grammar and spelling differently for non-native speakers, though, so please do mention it.
What You Get:
I generally edit using the following criteria. If asked, I will concentrate only on the criteria you specify; otherwise I will give a general overview using the color coded criteria below. I always edit as if I were a reader reading it for the first time, so most things I comment on are things that pull me out of the story. I try to color code things when a system allows me, otherwise I just try to have very specific comments.
Yellow – Story flow, characterization, plot holes, etc. This is anything that strikes me as out of place—a loose thread, unanswered questions, etc.—or just yanks me out of the story flow. Keep in mind, some of these questions are answered later in a manuscript, so just because I mention a thing doesn't mean it's a problem. In fact, you may find me asking exactly the questions you wanted your readers to ask.
Green – Grammar and sentence structure. I am neither an English guru nor an editor, nor do I claim to always be right. I do this more for thoroughness than for any other reason. I fully realize most people have alternative means for thorough grammatical editing and that most awkward sentences are corrected in the second draft, so I really only point out anything that, again, yanked me from the story flow. Feel free to ignore if you like.
Gray – Totally personal and subjective opinions. This can include tips, comments, hints, suggestions, compliments, and so on.
Red – Spell check, just like in high school. I really only point out things that spell check won’t catch, like a correctly spelled word used in the wrong place (they're/their, loose/lose, etc.).
Purple – Repeated words. Any word that continually pop up in short succession, or any overused word in the manuscript itself.
Blue – Paragraph starting suggestions. Anywhere I feel a paragraph needs to start. This is only a suggestion, and I may have 2 or 3 places marked in larger bodies of text just as a tentative idea of places it seems natural to break it up. How you do so is totally up to you.
When a system allows me (Word does, Google Docs not so much) I try to finish any critique with some final thoughts. This is an overview of how I felt about the piece. This can be overwhelming thoughts (work on dialogue, watch the run-on sentences, absolutely loved the scene with the talking platypus, etc.), specifics that were not addressed elsewhere but I felt needed to be stated, and so on. Sometimes this is the most important part of the critique, and sometimes it’s just a restatement of my other comments. Keep a sharp eye here, though, as I always try to give my best critiques and compliments in this summation.
In the case of a system that will not allow an area for final thoughts, I just try to give very specific comments. Be warned, this can make my comments long.