What is Beta Reading?
Usually, when an author finishes a full draft of a narrative work that they expect to publish, they will have one or more people—just regular people, not necessarily editors or publishers—read the manuscript and give him or her feedback on what they liked and didn’t like, what worked for them and what didn’t, if anything needs to be added or removed or rearranged, or any other changes the author might make to improve the manuscript, just from the point of view of an average reader. These people are known as beta readers.
In most cases, beta readers work for free; they are the author’s friends, family, acquaintances, or volunteers recruited through their publishing company. However, these people also have busy lives with other priorities, and sometimes they might be unable to give you the feedback you requested, or give you enough detail for the feedback to be useful. Sometimes it’s difficult for them to be honest with their critique due to not wanting to seem impolite or too negative. And sometimes, especially if your beta readers are volunteers you don’t particularly know or are close to, there might be confidentiality issues.
So, while looking for unpaid beta readers is always a good first step (and encouraged!), there can be many benefits to paying for a beta reading—not the least of which is an assurance of the reliability and usefulness of the feedback, and confidence in them keeping that feedback 100% private. It also helps that beta readers like me, who have worked in the industry, have the advantage of having read manuscripts of all types, so we have a clearer idea of what works and doesn’t work, how to improve it, and what next steps it might need to make it better, particularly when it comes to the editing process.
How It Works
You send me your manuscript, and I read through it with a critical eye. Once I’ve read it, I will write a feedback report (in PDF format, usually between 2-5 pages) detailing my opinion about your work’s readability, main concept, worldbuilding, overall plot and subplots, characters, dialogue, and other important aspects of your narrative that stand out to me. I will point out the positives and negatives, things I really liked and things I think you should fix or change, and what further work your manuscript may need in terms of editing or science review. No changes or comments will be done on the document itself, and for that reason you need not send me a Word file—a PDF will do just fine.
The cost of a beta reading will depend on the length of your manuscript. It is not necessary for your manuscript to have been edited before you submit it for a beta reading, but if if is difficult to read or understand, I will make a note of it in my feedback report. I can refer you to a freelance editor if needed.
A beta reading will cost you $0.0025 USD (0.25 cents) per word, or a base fee of $25 USD if it’s under 10,000 words. For manuscripts over 10,000 words, a $25 USD non-refundable deposit will be charged upon receipt, and the rest upon completion.
I will answer any questions and clarify any doubts within reason via email for no extra fee; if you need more hands-on help, I may refer you to a freelance editor, as that would be beyond the scope of a beta reading.
Work Termination, Returns, and Refunds
Freaking Narnia does not sell or offer material goods; only editorial and consulting services are provided. As such, we do not conduct any business through physical mail. All exchange of data, including manuscripts and any documents generated as a product of science consulting, proofreading, and beta reading, is done electronically, in most cases via email. As such, Freaking Narnia does not offer returns of material goods of any kind, including items physically mailed to us.
Completion dates and deadlines for all projects will be agreed upon with the client before the start of work, also via email. For any email inquiries, we will try our hardest to get back to you within 24 hours, but please afford a maximum of 72 hours for a response. If you have not heard back from us in over 72 hours, feel free to reach out again.
Any payments received are non-refundable. A project may be terminated at any time, and payment will only be required for work already completed up to the date of termination. All work completed prior to termination of service must be paid at the agreed-upon rate. Any completed work shall be delivered upon payment. Deposits are non-refundable.