Sunday, May 10, 2015

Hardcover Lover Confessions (8)

Welcome back to Hardcover Lover Confessions, everyone! I know, I know... it's been a while since my last HCL Confessions post, but remember I said I'd only post them when the occasion felt right? Well, that's kind of how this post came to be - I felt like I needed to address this issue.

I'm sure you're all familiar with how these confessionals/discussion posts work. I get an idea. I write a post with my thoughts or confessions, and then you (like everybody and anybody) can join in and discuss your thoughts with me and the other commenters and bloggers.

I'm encouraging all of my followers to join in and discuss your thoughts on each topic with me and with the other bloggers/people who leave comments. Don't be afraid to reply to a comment made by someone you've never spoken to before! Don't be afraid to leave a comment at all, even if you've never commented on any of my posts before. I can promise you that all of my followers are kind and outgoing, and that you might even make a new friend after commenting.

HCL Confession on Beta Reading

This post has been brewing for a while now, and it's just now coming to fruition for me. So please forgive me if this post is a little rough. You might know by now that when I get fired up, I get really fired up. I'm just passionate about things, and I guess this is one of those things.

A few weeks ago, I saw something online about readers charging authors for beta reading services. The lovely people of the book blogging community voiced their concerns, and it looked like it was dying off. I think I even retweeted a few of the Tweets about it, me taking the side of not charging. But then I started noticing links being posted everywhere on Twitter and on blogs about the very same thing. Uh oh...

So I guess that I charging authors for beta reading services has become a thing. Um, no! Like hell no! That is just wrong!  I can't even believe that this is happening. I'm very against this idea of amateur bloggers charging authors to read a draft. Beta readers should not be paid because they aren't typically professionals. In my opinion (and a quick internet search shows that a lot of people agree with me on this one), beta reading should be a free service provided to an author by peers and/or friends. Up until recently, I really thought that the established definition of beta reading was free service done by peers. (Correct me if I'm wrong on that.)

Simply put: Beta readers are "typically unpaid" for their services.

Why, Erin? Well... because it's the right thing to do! Would you charge your friend to read over a draft of their final paper? No. You would read it and give suggestions and feedback for free because you know that your friend would most likely do the same thing for you. (Hello... that's why you often see blurbs on book covers from other authors - peer reading. ) Keep in mind, most beta readers are not professional editors who have gone to school and studied the ins and outs of grammar and publishing. A beta is getting a first look at a rough to slightly edited and revised piece of literature and is giving feedback based on what's been written.

Have you beta read, Erin? The answer to that is yes, but I don't do it often. When I first started blogging, a college friend of mine sent me an ARC of one of his books. I read it, and reviewed it. A few months later, he contacted me again to beta read a short story that he will be publishing in the future. Even though I had never beta read anything before, I knew that my reading of something could help my friend in the long run. I kindly read his story and gave him feedback as to what I liked and didn't like and how I felt it matched up with the book it would be a companion to. That's it. End of story. Short and sweet.

So do I think it's wrong that bloggers and reviewers are charging for beta reading services? Yes. A million times yes, especially if you aren't a professional editor. It's not often that I think I should tell people what to do, but in this case, I just can't even deal with the fact that I'm seeing bloggers and reviewers trying to charge authors to beta read. Leave it to the pros. If you're interested in beta reading, please do it the right way; don't charge.

What Do You Think?

I want to hear from you! Did  you know about beta reading and beta readers before reading this post? Have you ever beta read something? Do you agree with me that beta reading is a free service or have you charged an author to beta read their work?

Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions with me and everyone else, but please be courteous to everyone. Any and all rude or harassing comments will be deleted.


  1. I beta read every once in a while for a very select group of authors, and I also have a writing buddy with whom I exchange stuff. I wouldn't even think about charging for that. They allow you to read their book -- you pay them in time, they pay you in words/enjoyment. No, I don't have any qualifications, but I've read over 400 books, so I have an idea of what I'm talking about. My sole purpose is to provide honest feedback to help the author out, and like you said -- I know they'd do the same for me. And they have! It's just people helping each other out, and for me, it should stay that way :)

  2. As great as getting paid to read sounds, I think it is wrong to charge for beta reading. It is just like market surveys that countless companies use to test a crowd's reaction to their product. You get a free sample and you review it, no payment except for the sample. It almost sounds like bloggers getting paid to review books, which I have also heard a lot about. Bloggers are given a free copy of a book, which is enough payment for me. Personally, I think that if reading the book is not enough payment, then you obviously do not enjoy reading, so why are you even beta reading? I love to read. I also love to help authors, so I would be more than willing to beta read. I would try my best to help the author, even if I am not paid, because I love to read and want to share my passion with others.
    Great discussion, Erin!

  3. That's how I see it too - that just reading it ahead of time and allowing yourself to help is payment enough. It's good enough payment to know that you had a part in something that's been published. Plus sometimes, the authors will even give a shout out to you in the acknowledgements.

    That's what the great thing about being a beta-reader - you don't need to be qualified, just literate. Like when I beta read, the author only asked that I look over the plot and connections to the novel. I probably could edit with my degree, but I don't want to - at least not now.

    I'm so glad that you see it my way. I really thought that maybe I was one of the few who thought of it as a fun thing to do to help authors and even emerging authors.

  4. That's how I see it because eventually, that book is going to cost somewhere between $10 and $30, so the free book is equivalent to a payment.

    Charging authors to review anything, in my opinion, is just wrong and tasteless. For me, and many of the great bloggers and reviewers, you can tell it's all about the love of reading. Start bringing money into it, and it literally becomes a job. Not cool.

    Thanks, Tessa! And thanks for dropping by and sharing your thoughts! :)

  5. I definitely agree and if we're being honest, it's similar to reviewers receiving ARcs. Yeah, the two are completely different, but a reviewer receives an ARC or a copy of a book in exchange for a review. They don't get paid to do this. So, a beta reader receives a beta (draft) copy in exchange for feedback. See the similarity? I really think that the reader is really 'being paid' by being able to read this book and have the author listen to their feedback, not everyone gets to do that. The pleasure of reading is how you get paid, just like reviewers.

  6. I see it that way too, except for that the manuscript will change a lot by the time it gets to ARC reviewers. But there is no need to charge someone. Like I can't even imagine how authors feel when they think they've found a beta reader, and then the reader tries to charged him/her. It's nuts.

    I know of one reviewer who got to beta read and then read an ARC of the same book, and it was so interesting to see her comments on how it changed.

  7. I've heard the term beta reading before but I did not anything about it until now so thanks for the information. I just found a blogger who charges her beta reading services and I think it's unfair to the authors.

  8. I think it's unfair too. It already costs a lot to publish a book, and when you consider that the money doesn't really come in until the book is in production, it's just upsetting to see people take advantage of authors that way.

  9. I've never done beta reading but if I did I wouldn't charge. I consider it an privilege to just be able to read their work, why would I charge? I think it is totally unfair.

    I have been asked if I charge for reviews and such because other bloggers had charge them. I found that ridiculous because you get a free book in exchange for review.

  10. That's how I think too - reading anything ahead of the public is a privilege that so many will never get, so it just seems so unfair to ask an author to pay you for it.

    I co-mod All About YA on Goodreads, and the first time an author told me that one of our members asked her to pay her for her review, I was shocked. We had her book in the R2R program, and never would I have imagined that someone would do that. It's just ludicrous to ask for monetary compensation when you're already getting a free book.

  11. Thank you for writing this post at this moment as I have just signed up as one of the beta readers of a debut author in my country (Malaysia). As stated in the agreement, we will not receive any payment from the author but we will have our names printed at the "Acknowledgement" pages and we will receive the signed copy of the book once it is published. To me, receiving a copy of the book is already very rewarding.

    I guess as an amateur book reviewer, I don't think receiving payments to read drafts is right. Simply because I'm not professional and I don't do this for living. Similar to receiving ARCs, we don't charge authors/publishers a fee to review their books right? It's just so sad for me to know that we have these bunch of readers who are money-minded.

  12. You're welcome, Regina. I just got so angry and fired up, so I'm actually surprised that it came out level-headed.

    That's so cool that your name will be in the acknowledgements. To me, that's more than enough payment because it's such a special honor. And it's so cool that the author will be sending you a signed copy! That's so sweet. :)

    I don't think amateur reviewers should be paid at all. The books and the chance to read them before others is more than worth it. I know I'd never consider charging to beta read. Editing... yes, but not beta reading or reviewing.

  13. To me, it depends on what you mean by beta reading. If you just mean reading an ARC, I don't think it's necessary to charge for that. I did learn recently that book blogging in one of the only blogging niches where reviewers aren't paid for their efforts though, so that changed my perspective a lot. However, I'm still completely willing to read a book just for the love of reading. But if by beta reading you mean offering in depth advice on improving a book or editing services, heck yes, bloggers should be paid for that. That's work, while just reading is fun.


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