Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Critique and Beta Exchange

Since we've had previous interest in full critique exchanges, and someone just recently posted a comment about a 255-first-pages contest, I'm going to put up this page as an anchor for anyone who is interested to post comments about what they are looking for in critique partners, alpha, or beta readers.

To make it useful, I won't limit it to workshop participants. Anyone can join in, and welcome!

To help make sense of the terminology and make sure everyone is on the same page, here are some brief definitions:

Alpha Reads: Quick assessments of a whole manuscript. Evaluate for structure, pacing, characterization, story, theme--strictly big picture. Likely occur after a first or second draft, or perhaps even after an outline. Turned around in one to two weeks.

Critiques: In-depth assessments of individual chapters or an entire manuscript. Assess everything, from structure to syntax, including line edits. Turned around according to agreed on timeframe.

Beta reads: For finished stories that should really need little more than polishing. Point out anything and everything that pulls a reader out of the story world, from simple typos, spelling and grammar, to characterization, plot, or pacing issues. Generally do not include line edits, and they don't usually point out solutions. Turned around as quickly as possible.

If you would like to participate in a manuscript exchange or are looking for a critique partner, please post the following information:

  • Your genre, length, and status of your manuscript
  • What you want to exchange, i.e. -- alpha, beta, or critique
  • Timeframe and what you are looking for in terms of page count
  • If you've participated in the one of the First Five Pages Workshops
  • Any other information you'd like to share
  • Please make sure you can be reached through your blogger profile, or make sure people can reach you in some other way

Happy writing!



  1. *My genre is General Fiction/ contemporary. It is 85,000 words and it is finished
    *I'd like a Beta Read
    *I'm flexible with time but would like it within a month maybe two
    *I have participated in the first five pages
    *I can be reached at connieannmichael@gmail.com or on my blog Loco for Libros

  2. Genre: I'm sorta not sure, as dumb as that sounds! That's one of the reasons I'd like a reader, to help me figure it out. I've been calling it speculative YA thriller, but there's a love story and a mystery, and the speculative element is sorta sci-fi, and one agent has called it dystopian...

    Length: 74k, finished

    Exchange: alpha or beta would be fine (no line edits needed, just big picture stuff)

    Timeframe: I'm querying this manuscript now and have a baby due in 2 months, so I'd like it within a few weeks if possible, so that I have time to edit and requery before baby comes and strikes me out for a few months :)

    I have participated in the First Five Pages workshop, am in the midst of it right now actually. (Connie, maybe we'd be a good match!)

    I can be reached at tiffanytjohnson@gmail.com or through my blog, Fictiffous.

  3. Hi!

    I've just come across this site from Vivian Mahoney's tweets about the five-day workshop. I had never heard of it, consequently have not participated, but I found the comments on her work to be insightful. I would like to engage in a similar exercise for my current WIP (about 1/4 complete).

    - Genre of my WIP is YA Paranormal/Sci-fi.

    - I am requesting an exchange of critique of the first chapter (1.5K words)

    - Timeframe, maybe a week or so, as the sample isn't very long?

    - My email address is anthony@ambjr.com

    Looking forward to hearing from you and getting involved.