My Experience as a Beta Reviewer

Sometime back, I wrote a couple of blog posts about how I approached beta readers and their feedback on my manuscript.  That was for a work-in-progress version for Now, Returned to India; before my editor began her work on refining the manuscript and making it more palatable for the readers’ eyes. I enjoyed the experience, and have tried to give back to the author community. One of the first books that I beta reviewed was Simon Whistler’s book on audiobooks. This was also a WIP (work in Progress) version, though I learnt a lot from the process myself, both as a writer and a reviewer.

Earlier this week, author Rasana Atreya requested beta readers and reviewers for her ‘novelette’ (as she refers to it)-  The Temple is Not My Father . This book is already available on Amazon, and has been edited, formatted and is ready for prime time. But I was more than happy to read ti and give my feedback to Rasana. I am sharing my experiences from the whole process.

Rasana announced in the Facebook Wrimo India Group, of which I am a member, that she was looking for beta readers/ reviewers for her book. She offered to reduce the price to zero rupees for a day so that the reviewers could download. At present her novelette is available as a Kindle e-book only. The price was not really a trigger for me to sign up, though it helped me act faster.

  1. The plot itself is very touching and the language is simple and easy to read. There were no issues with grammar that I could notice, except for one instance. I am not an expert in grammar and I will leave it to the author and her editor to take a call on it.
  2. I used the Kindle app for ipad to read and made my notes on the mobi file- another first for me. That is a steep transition for me, because I am a paper and pen guy. I figure out how to share those comments with Rasana, I will have learnt something new.
  3. Rasana responded to my comments and feedback very quickly. We had a bit of a back and forth on a few minor formatting issues- some word spacing, etc. was showing up differently on the ipad app. And then I asked her a question on the title of the book which was blunt, and Rasana responded to my satisfaction.

Now you may feel what I have described above is a simple, straightforward matter. And you might wonder “does this deserve to be blogged about?” But there a few reasons why I believe that this is worth sharing, which are listed below:

  1. Be sure to respond to reviewers’ queries and comments as soon as you can:
    As an author who has just released a book, there must be a lot of things on the plate: implementing the marketing plan, lining up reviewers, requesting readers to leave feedback, and the likes. And of course, in the middle of this all is something we all have to tackle – family, kids… In spite of that, Rasana responded to each and every query or feedback of mine. I really appreciated that, and hope to emulate and embed this practise myself.
  2. Help fellow authors out:
    Sharing references of say a cover designer, or an editor, or matters such as copyright registration, formatting, etc. Since the book was released, should the author’s focus have been only on the sales figures? The answer is no, and I experienced it first hand.
  3. Be prepared to tough and maybe unpleasant questions politely:
    Without getting into the specifics, this was my biggest surprise and takeaway. I am not sure how I would have responded to such a question, and I think that’s where experience helps.

Coming back to the formatting issues: my experience with the whole process was so positive, that I re-read the book on a Kindle device, and this time there were no issues with the formatting…maybe it was device specific. Call me picky, but the two or three instances where the spacing between the words was too wide was probably alarming me. What is my book had formatting issues that were much worse than what I was encountering? Fortunately, there was no anxiety or a panic attack.

Overall, I had a lot of fun in the entire process. Considering that the book deals with a serious, sensitive issue, maybe I should not use the word “fun”. But this post is about the review process, and to me, it was a lot of fun. I would encourage others to try beta reading/ reviewing a book. And if the author responds to you in less than a day’s time, it makes the process even more enjoyable.

 

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