Beta/ARC Reader Do's and Don'ts
First, I want to thank all the readers who participated in my review-copy giveaway on YABS. Having your support means the world! While I've had the amazing experience of receiving amazing feedback from beta, ARC, and review-copy readers, there are some behavioral trends that I wanted to go over in this week's blog post. Whether you're a reader or author, here are some practices to be aware of.
Beta, ARC, Review-copy reader? What's The Difference?
To clarify any confusion before exploring this post further, here are some terms to know:
1) Beta Reader: This is a reader who checks the content and/or grammar of the piece before it's published. Betas should check for any annoying character flaws, plot holes, repetitive phrasing, other grammar issues, or other details the author may have missed.
*Authors: Make sure your selection of beta readers has the comment feature in Word available. This way if they see something amiss, they can insert a comma without you having to navigate through the document.
2) ARC Readers: Also known as Advance Reader Copy readers, this group is responsible for reading the novel prior to the book's release date and posting reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites to tell potential customers "hey, I really loved this novel!"
*Authors: Make sure your ARC readers get their reviews done at least 1-2 days prior to release in case of late postings.
3) Review-Copy Reader: These readers have simply received a copy of the novel through a giveaway or as a prize. In this case, the author is seeking reviews after the novel is published and potentially looking to expand their mailing list.
*Authors: Netgalley is way too expensive! Use YABS instead for greater results. Make sure to keep a detailed list of how many copies you plan on distributing, the title of the novel, expected finish date, and the names/emails of your readers. Have pre-set messages for each copy emailed to notify about copyright, no distribution, and your expectations.
Beta/ARC Reviews: Do's and Don'ts:
If you are a beta or ARC reviewer, incorporate these practices into your reviews.
1)DO make sure you can meet the author's time expectations.
Authors rely on reader's like you for great book reviews! Sadly, life always throws unexpected punches that make it difficult for us to read. While you don't have to reveal your personal situation to the author, it's best to be honest if you cannot meet the review deadline. Make sure to let the author know at a considerable time, at least 2 weeks prior to the due date. This ensures the author can find a replacement. Communication is key!
DON'T ghost authors.
"Ghosting" is a social media term referring to an online contact magically disappearing. Did they get abducted by aliens? Discover Atlantis? Who knows, but an author will be upset and disappointed if you don't tell them what's going on. When an author gives you a novel, treat it with respect. This work most likely took them 6 months to a year, and it's their baby. If you aren't willing to read it or don't find it interesting, don't waste their time asking for a copy and never responding back.
2)DO write a considerable amount in the review.
The most annoying aspect about sending out copies is seeing two sentences in the review saying, "It was great. Read this." As I previously mentioned, the novel is an author's baby, and they most likely put their heart and soul into every word and idea. In your reviews, include specific aspects about the novel you enjoyed or didn't, including: characters, setting, theme, plot, and relationships. Trust me: authors will appreciate your words of encouragement or thoughts on improving!
DON'T summarize or be overly critical.
Goodreads reviewers always amaze me. Sometimes reviews are so nasty that it borders on online bullying. Even if you don't enjoy a novel, again, be respectful. The work an author puts into a novel is daunting and challenging. Do not crap on their hard work by saying it's sh--t, a copy cat, could've been better or other insulting words. It's okay to be honest, but don't push the author into never wanting to write again. If you wouldn't want it said about your work, don't include it in your review!
Sadly, as our society becomes more sensitive, this is happening with a lot of authors.
In addition, a summary of the entire plot (including spoilers... grr!) is not needed in a review. That's listed at the top for the reader's to check out. A summary is a discussion of the entire plot. A review is an opinionated piece that covers various literary themes. Understanding this difference is key to writing reviews.
3) DO sign up for the author's mailing list!
If you loved your assigned novel, make sure to sign up for the author's mailing list. This allows you to get first notices on contests, other giveaways, sneak peeks, and future beta opportunities! Or, you can show your support for the author by sharing your love of the novel with your friends, family, or co workers on social media. Every small act of kindness helps an author flourish.
DON'T ignore the mailing list opportunity!
I know. You already have enough email, but an author's mailing list gives you a glimpse of what they're working on before anyone else. Think of it as the VIP Reader's List. Who doesn't want to be included in that? Plus, when you sign up for a mailing list, most authors will offer freebies such as short stories or five chapters of a novel.
Whenever you are offered a free novel, remember to treat it with respect, post a review in the expected time frame, and communicate any issues prior to the due date. The author worked hard on their craft, and it's important to follow these simple rules.
Authors or readers: what are your do's and don'ts? Share in the comments below!