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Beta Reader's Forum

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Beta Reader's Forum

Postby Tim the Corsair » Wed Jan 18, 2012 4:56 am

Hello all,

So this is an idea that has been percolating at the back of my noodle for about a year or so, and I am currently at work trying very hard not to do anything related to my job...a perfect time for posting!

The idea:

We currently have a subset of membership on these forums who are all aspiring writers for the Black Library (and in general, of course). The feedback offered on fan fiction pieces here has always been of fantastic quality, but that doesn't help in anything but general growth as a writer. There have been various discussions about the exchange of submissions to the BL between some members here, which would naturally be rather useful.

What I propose is that we take this concept a step further and create a forum here for this purpose, with several caveats:
-Hidden from public view
-Access must be applied for and is not just granted to all members
-Members would be carefully screened and vetted to ensure they weren't thieves (I am aware that the above could hilariously lead to me not being accepted in this circumstance, as I lurk and don't post a huge amount of work here lately), but I'd take the risk.
-Only work intended to be published commercially would be posted
-Everyone offers me 10% commission on all stories sold thanks to my great idea (negotiable)

Obviously security would be paramount here, as a bad egg could potentially steal or ruin the publishing opportunities for the stories put up. I also understand why the head honchos might not want to deal with the potential headaches.

So Boltholers, I put it to you: Is it a good idea? Would you take advantage? Is it too risky?

I'm not super attached to the idea, but I think it does have merit in terms of making us all have stronger submissions for publication by BL.

Thoughts?
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Re: Beta Reader's Forum

Postby shadowhawk2008 » Wed Jan 18, 2012 8:05 am

Off thetop of my head, some concerns.

A. How do we screen and vet people? What are the criteria going to be?
B. Is there really a strong call for something like this? Isn't exchanging emails and conversing off the forum just all that easier?
C. Should such a forum really be that restricted?
D. I assume the commission thing is just meant as a joke.
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Re: Beta Reader's Forum

Postby Tim the Corsair » Wed Jan 18, 2012 8:33 am

shadowhawk2008 wrote:Off thetop of my head, some concerns.

A. How do we screen and vet people? What are the criteria going to be?
B. Is there really a strong call for something like this? Isn't exchanging emails and conversing off the forum just all that easier?
C. Should such a forum really be that restricted?
D. I assume the commission thing is just meant as a joke.


Ah excellent, replies below:

A. Someone (or multiple someones) responsible in a position of power and/or respect would accept applications from members and judge them based upon how well known they are in the community, whether they post fiction here, or how much they enjoy spelunking; obviously that would have to be considered in more depth. It could turn out that a set group of existing members only would be the best idea.

B. Email and conversing off-forum is fine provided you are at a level of relationship with your fellow boltholer that this more personal setting is comfortable; further more, it's also assuming that you have that relationship with enough people to achieve an online writers group of like-minded individuals compared to the ease of a forum setting.

Regarding demand: I have no idea.

C. If such a forum weren't that restricted, you would be risking theft of your work, as well as potentially breaching the whole "no prior publication" deal.

D. Yes, that was said in jest.
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Re: Beta Reader's Forum

Postby shadowhawk2008 » Wed Jan 18, 2012 9:18 am

Doesn't that automatically cancel out the vast majority of the members?

To use some examples, say myself, LL, colonel mustard and erunanion are chosen to be the ''mods'' for this new forum.

How do we actually screen people? Should angelous, a new member who wants to get published, be denied entry into the forum? I have met Bod and Paulus in person so should that be the criteria for lettimg them enter? I've had good interactions with all three.

Should I myself be even considered as a ''mod' for the new forum? My only fanfic has been speculative 60k but I have helped a few people here previously with their submissions and I am also a forum mod. Isn't there a bias here?

We have also had two abortive attempts at creating a group of beta readers on the forum itself. It hasn't really worked out has it? Keeping that in mind, I repeat my question: is there really such a strong demand for this that a new forum be created?

On the level of relationships. I was a rookie when I joined in march last year. Based on some random conversations in the shoutbox and a few posts on the forum, by the time submissions rolled in, I was exchanging emails with quite a few people here, asking for critiques and giving them as well. None of them knew me before but we all took that initiative and made it work. Now I have an off forum circle of friends with whom I can discuss my work and theirs.

And back to restriction: you cannot have a tight set of rules governing this public forum because that goes against the idea of it in the first place. Not to mention that people don't like putting their professional work out there like this either.

And what are we going to be discussing in the forum any way? Short story pitches? Novel pitches?

''hey guys, I have this idea for a short story, how do I work it into a pitch?'' ''is this situation am accurate portrayal of so so? I know so and so does it like this but i want my own spin on it so what do you think?''

would people discuss their entire plot? What characters they are including?

And on and on.
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Re: Beta Reader's Forum

Postby Tim the Corsair » Wed Jan 18, 2012 10:37 am

I don't see how it would cancel out a majority at all - it would depend entirely on the vetting process. The only thing that would need to be determined would be the level of trust in the member in question, and whether users were comfortable with the members and the risks and posted anyway.

Would you be a mod? I wouldn't have a clue.

I would argue that one of the factors that makes attempting to organise beta readers in the same way as in the past is the lack of an easily accessible, central location that is less dependant upon time commitments from individuals.

My example scenario where this would be useful:

"Hey gang, I've been working on this pitch for a story of a massive pitched battle between the Space Wolves and the Thunder Cats called 'Reigning Cats and Dogs'.

Here's my thousand word sample, summary , and synopsis. What do you guys think? I'd appreciate feedback on the writing and the idea itself. Very much appreciated"

Of course, it could be any of the stuff you mentioned, or a full story - hell a full novel, if (like me) you've worked on a sub well beyond the basic requirement because you loved the story). Any of it would be of benefit, as external opinion always makes work stronger (even by you saying you disagree and not acting upon it, it at least creates confidence in the work).

Finally, not everyone here has the time (both due to timezones and commitments, in my case) to hang out on the chat box and make friends, as much as we may want too. I've developed a couple of nice reciprocal relationships with a couple of guys here, but that wouldn't be necessary in this case - in fact, I'd argue NOT being close to at least some of the people critiquing your work coud only be a plus.

Also, plenty of public forums have private, members only areas (this one included), so I don't really see that as overly relevant an argument, at least when compared to issues of privacy/sanctity of the work and levels of interest.

I appreciate you taking the time to reply to this though - as I said, merely an idea I think has merit, but one with its own perils as well.
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Re: Beta Reader's Forum

Postby Erunanion » Wed Jan 18, 2012 10:56 am

I think the problems with this idea (though I recognise the good in its intent - a place for beta reading and debate is definitely a good thing) are twofold.

Firstly (and foremostly), publishers aren't going to publish anything that is available on the web for free. Now, while I recognise that this beta forum being closed off it meant to circumvent this, and in all honesty its unlikely (but not out of the question) that publishers will go scouring the internet for versions of the story you are selling to them.

Secondly, and more importantly, such a forum would be somewhat redundant, I think. This is, by and large, a forum of writers, and there is significant critique and criticism already going on. For our fan-fiction we can happily create a thread and have people comment, and work for which we are seeking publication can be PM'd/emailed to those people on the Bolthole whom we trust and whom have offered to beta-read our work for us. LL created the beta-reader request thread (http://www.thebolthole.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=1380) for that very purpose; creating a sub-forum with levels of access and screening etc is made redundant by this much simpler means of requesting beta-readers through a thread and engaging one-to-one via PM and email.
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Re: Beta Reader's Forum

Postby shadowhawk2008 » Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:05 am

There is also the fact that there are no guarantees that such a subforum would even take off. The fanfic forums are an excellent case in point. If on an open forum there is little diversity in posters and little diversity of readers and commenters, then what do we expect from an exclusive forum that is extremely specific?

It didn't work out with the debater's lounge that way and that was a case when it was requested.

An exclusive subforum is going to suffer from all of the above, no less due to the fact that it is so exclusive in the first place.
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Re: Beta Reader's Forum

Postby kurisawa » Fri May 25, 2012 5:53 am

Tim,

As someone who really wishes for more beta-readers, I see the goodness in your idea. However, I think the potential headaches touched upon are heavier than the benefits - How do we screen members to absolutely enforce the "no prior publication" clause? That's the ultimate question that looms over all others.

We do have a PM function, though, so... if you're up for it, I'd love to read over and give any suggestions for anything you want to submit.

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