Beta Reading Checklist

Status: ❌ CLOSED

This page contains a contract to set expectations between an author and (serious) me.

Under 100kI like psychology, true-crime, anthropology, and history.
For fiction: weird, horrible, and funny.

Please tell me:

  • Your goals.
  • If you want gentle or harsh criticism.

This makes it easier to tailor the language. My default assumption is to compare the manuscript to published works, because I assume you want to be published (see my book reviews for examples, most of them are 3 stars).

Agreement #

  1. If I drop the manuscript, I will mention where and why (I usually read to the end).
  2. I will give feedback on both the positives and negatives.
  3. I will point out where the language over-explains or fails to serve a purpose.
  4. I am a slow reader and it takes me a while to produce meaningful feedback.
  5. My opinions are opinionated. Once I send out a report, they’re final. No amount of arguing or explaining your intentions will change my mind very much.
  6. I have high standards.
  7. Don’t take anything personally.
  8. If it doesn’t work out, better luck next time.

File Format #

Anything. I am savvy and can handle most formats.

On Rewriting #

Since I am a writer, I may provide “rewrites” of sentences. Rewrites are for highlighting a technique or providing an example, not to undermine an author’s agency. The concern is on the backbones of story: setting expectations, payoff of expectations, and pacing emotional moments. My assumption is that it’s fun to see how others perceive and communicate in language.

If you don’t want rewrites, tell me and I won’t.

Report Format #

How my report is structured.

Impressions #

I will answer specific questions from the author. Otherwise, I will follow the “Deep Questionnaire.”

Deep Questionnaire

  1. From what does the work derive its energy: plot, language, structure, or something else? (Can you identify the author’s strengths and weaknesses?)
  2. How does content (what is being told) interact with tone or style (how it is being told)?
  3. Do any images or ideas reoccur? What do they suggest? (symbolism and themes)
  4. What unspoken story is underneath the story? (What is the story really about?)
  5. Where/how does the story surprise or delight?
  6. Where/how is the story predictable?
  7. What is the story’s best sentence, or set of sentences? Why?
  8. When you have finished the story, what feeling is left behind?

Takeaways #

Key takeaways will be listed here.

Ranking System #

🚩 Unacceptable—Strong negative opinions
🤓 Suggestions—Up to artistic license
👍 Good stuff—Keep doing this!

Additional Notes #

Anything that doesn’t fit in the other sections goes here.

If you want to ask me to look over your manuscript, head to my Contact Form and send me your blurb and word count.