Jason asks:

Mr. Howey,

 

First of all, I’ve read the first four parts of Wool (you got me hooked with the first part, which was free!) and am loving it, it’s been a while since I’ve read a sci-fi novel that had truly original ideas, and I’ve felt compelled to stay up late to read.

 

However, I’m writing you, not to ask you about your specific motivations/inspirations, but hoping that you might be able to answer a few questions for me. I’m not exactly an aspiring author (though I suppose I am one at heart, I don’t have any specific book inside just waiting to get out), I’ve become somewhat disenchanted with the current publishing models that are available for those who are aspiring to write full time.

 

I love the self-publishing model, though, as I’m sure you’re aware, it does tend to lead to the mass-publishing of less than ideal literary works. I don’t necessarily think that there is anything wrong with this as certain gems occasionally achieve public recognition. I do, however, think that if aspiring authors were able to find more affordable and perhaps reliable help in editing, proofreading, illustrating and the like, that perhaps there would be an overall increase in the quality of self-published works and even less reliability on the current publisher model in the literary arena.

 

I was wondering what you consider to be the biggest barriers to the self-publishing of quality works (as someone who has done it himself). 

 

I have been thinking about trying my hand at an online solution specifically for aspiring authors involving an online community of sorts to help, and any advice you have would be much appreciated.

 

I’m not really expecting a reply (I’m sure you’re inundated!) but you miss every shot you don’t take!

 

This is a great question. I’d say the biggest barrier to releasing quality material is probably impatience. You have a work that feels pretty good; you’re exhausted; you want to move on; you might be a bit delusional about how good it really is; so you hit publish. Nobody steps in and tells you to make it better, to do another pass, to get a better cover, to write a better blurb, to hire or trade for some editing, to beg or trade for some beta reading. You simply jump the gun.

What the community of self-published authors needs is readers and reviewers. They can get this by publishing, watching the feedback, and attempting to fix and re-publish their work. If they are smart, they get a loved one or friend to do this before they publish. If they are smarter, they get beta readers. Smartest, they hire an editor.

What might be helpful, as a service, is a process whereby manuscripts are uploaded and read for a fee. A random reader is paid to get as far as they can into a manuscript before they lose interest (hopefully they read to the end). Let’s say the fee is $10. Here’s why it can be so inexpensive: If the reader is enjoying what they’re reading, they’ll want to keep reading! Hey, they are getting paid $10 to read something they like! A book they didn’t pay for!

But let’s say they get to a part they don’t like (this is good; remember we are hoping to make these stories better). It could be they get hung up on the first page. It could be in the second chapter. After this mild stumble, they push on, determined to see it get better. But it doesn’t, not quickly enough. This is where they would abandon the book had they paid $3.99 for it on Amazon. This is where they would throw in the towel. To earn their $10, they write a note to the author explaining that it was just too many typos, this or that sentence was clunky, not enough action, too many unicorns, whatever.

Of course, you’ll get some Hamiltons (that’s what we’ll call these $10 beta readers) who try to collect their $10, say they simply didn’t like it, and move on. They’ll game the system. But what if the author could rate the Hamilton right back? Like how eBay cuts down on scammers and how Amazon lets you rate third-party sellers. You would want to do a good job and give great feedback so you have more authors willing to hire you. You may even take pride in this skill. You may get addicted to the joy of reading indie works, shaping them to make them better, and getting paid in the process.

Let’s call the system The Slush Pile. Monetize it. Make it fun. For the writer, a $50 investment to get five honest opinions is a great deal. And I think writers will do MORE work before they even upload the manuscript, knowing they are paying someone to read it. The works that come out of this system will be vetted; they will have more polish; they will have reader feedback built-in; and they will have interested parties out there, hoping to see the work they helped shape do well.

On the other side, there are a lot of adventurous readers out there looking for the next great thing. Imagine the joy of getting paid to discover those reads (and even helping make them better). Imagine making an extra $30 on the weekend to read a few stories, highlight typos, and suggest that the love triangle look more square-ish. How cool would that be?

Anyway, that’s what I think self-publishing needs. And if I wasn’t knee-deep in writing my next book, I would build it myself. :)

76 Responses to “What do Self-Published Authors Need?”

  1. Great idea! You would have to deal with the fear of people ‘stealing’ your idea, however baseless that worry us. Or maybe that just self selects authors willing to take the next step…

    Good article.

    • I never worry about people stealing ideas. No idea can be written the same way twice. :)

    • TJIC says:

      > You would have to deal with the fear of people ‘stealing’ your idea,

      I’ve started two companies and I’ve written two novels, and I find that almost universally, people who WANT to do one or both of these things worry about ideas being stolen, and people who HAVE done either one of these things know the truth: ideas are cheap and competent execution is really really REALLY hard.

      “Young kid comes of age and joins the space military”. Heinlein did it. Haldeman did it. OSC did it. Each did a different amazing take on it.

      …and then ten thousand OTHER people have done it, and they’ve all been forgettable.

      Heinlein could have published his idea on a billboard, waited twenty years for all the “clones” to “rip off his idea”, and still blown everyone out of the water when Starship Trooper was released.

      My two cents.

      • > Ideas are cheap and competent execution is really really REALLY hard.

        Complete agreement. Truer words were never spoken.

      • mk says:

        Ideas are cheap and competent execution is really really REALLY hard.
        Wow. If I ever get a tattoo, it’ll be those words, spouting out of a unicorn horn. Brilliant.

  2. Jeff Carson says:

    Yeah, solid idea for a business there.

    Thanks for sharing your response to Jason’s question. I was wondering if I needed to move on to the next project and never look back to the first and second books I wrote…like 5 times was enough to re-self-edit them.

    Anyways, I guess I feel like I “jumped the gun” like you said, after receiving numerous “Great story, but the author obviously used Dragon Naturally Speaking software” comments (which I didn’t).

    I think there’s a fine line between “poop or get off the pot” and “jumping the gun”. Personally, I’m glad I pooped, and now I have a lot of information to go on. Wait…what are we talking about?

    Great post, great books, and your success is a great inspiration.

    Jeff

  3. Jennifer says:

    This is an excellent idea!!! Thanks to Jason for asking the question, and thanks to Hugh for such a helpful response. I would use a system that was set up like this! It’s a total win-win.

    • Kirk Jolly says:

      I agree. I’ve often wondered why somebody hasn’t set up a pay for play type beta-reader site. Beta readers are important especially for self pubbers. I still think you need editing but betas give you a real feel for what a reader will like or not like.

      The problem with getting your writing buddies to do beta reading for you is that they have the pesky habit of trying to rewrite things for you. It’s like, I’m sorry, is this a collaboration? You can just say a section doesn’t work, maybe offer some ideas on how to fix it, but don’t rewrite my sentences for me. Beta readers don’t generally do that. They say what the like, what they don’t and point out random typos that you and an editor might have missed.

  4. FeliciaB says:

    I wish I could be a beta reader. However, I have a problem criticizing someone else’s work. I know the author needs constructive feedback, I am concerned with how to deliver it without crushing the artist. I’m much better at cheer leading.

  5. Deb Robbins says:

    I am a beta reader, mostly with nothing to do. Last year, Lisa set up a group for beta readers, right here in your forums. I’m sure you’ve seen it. She’s talked about it repeatedly, all over Facebook. There was initial interest from authors, but only 4 or 5 actually followed through. I’m just finishing the second manuscript that Lisa has given me, and only 2 or 3 other people have gotten anything to work on. The forum has plenty of readers that are interested, but it’s gone nowhere. Maybe it would be more interesting to authors if we charged for the service. I can’t say.

    • S. Toman says:

      How does one go about utilizing the services of the beta reader group? I took a gander at the forum and while I saw threads with helpful tips for Beta readers I didn’t see anything detailing how an author would offer up their book to the group.

      • Deb Robbins says:

        In Hugh’s forums, find “Beta Readers Unite” and then see the thread “Beta reader applications..” The original post is by Lisa, who is an editor and an admin for the forums. You can click on her name to get to her profile, then send her a PM to talk to her. She is the organizer for the group.

  6. D.L. Shutter says:

    Deb

    Are you interested in doing more beta reading? I’m having the hardest time finding people interested. Everyone’s always too busy working on their own stuff it seems.

    Dave

  7. Great article, and so right about the patience thing. Probably the toughest thing is finding good honest criticism. I found some at a children’s conference a few years ago, an editor from Penguin gave me some great feedback and really helped shape my children’s novel. Also, I sat in a room with 10 other aspiring writers, to hear our first pages read and critiqued by a panel of editors from major houses in NYC. Talk about heart pounding when yours is being read. 6 or 7 went before mine and were torn apart, so when they got to mine I was nervous, but I received tremendous feedback and one editor said she really wanted to turn the page. I think conferences and critiques can be invaluable. I’ve gotten a lot out of them and met some incredible authors and illustrators along the way. Then, I hired not one, but 2 freelance editors. One was a well-published author and the other from a well-known company. I even hired a second artist after not being too thrilled with artist #1. I’m just about done, just trying to make a final decision on my title!!!

  8. I’ll read anyone’s novel for $10 and write a full page review on it. Having someone that doesn’t know you review it is much much better. People attach your personality to your writing and it typically messes the whole process up.

    If you click on my name it will take you to my site. (I own a design business) Go to the contact page and message me. Or reply to me here in the comments. My site has a blog with my writing in it if you care to see that I’m at least half literate.

    (Hope that didn’t come across as spam. I don’t have ads on my site.)

  9. Dustin says:

    This is a great idea. Reminds me a lot of UserTesting.com (http://www.usertesting.com/) but for reading.

  10. That is a totally great idea! Great question from Jason and I appreciate you taking the time to answer it Hugh. I think it’s something that many authors have been wondering.

    Also Deb, that’s a great idea too. I had no idea there was folks out there looking to help out with beta reading. I use my family and anyone else I can get to help me with a read through. Not always as many readers as you’d hope…

    Thanks again Hugh!

  11. Gary Ponzo says:

    I’d have to say this is the one great dilemma for Indies. When to publish. It’s like being the master of your posse and they’re all there to support you, but no one’s there to stop you from snorting coke off a stripper’s stomach at a bachelor party. Your posse is cheering you on. What you need is a good friend to tell you how stupid you are. That’s what a solid group of beta readers will do for a an Indie. Your family members are the posse telling you how terrific a writer you are, but the beta readers will set you straight. Then after you’ve made the appropriate changes, make sure an copy editor sees it too. Does it take time. Yes. Is it worth it? You bet.

  12. Annelie says:

    Paying beta-readers isn’t a bad idea, online peer-reviewing communities are good for a start, too.
    Yet, here comes my BUT:

    Beta-readers (if they are not authors themselves) often do not give you a brutally honest reply. If something reads shitty, they might not dare to tell you. Or, if they got paid for beta-reading, they might think “Oh shit, I got money for it and I find it so crappy, maybe I should try to find something nice about the book”.
    I tried several beta readers and got mixed response (which was expected). A friend whose honesty I value greatly, told me, my first draft as worse than Twilight (ouch).
    With my second book, I actually got fans to beta read. The feedback was not always helpful, but maybe I expected too much and they did too? A beta-reader is still a reader and will expect a finished story, despite the fact that it ISN’T finished and that’s what an author needs a beta-reader in the first place. No easy fix, but I’m finding my crowd gradually.

    Online peer-reviewing communities: GREAT to learn how to write and how not to. Not very helpful when it comes to plot and character development, because most often, only one chapter at a time is reviewed. Before people get to read the next of your chapters, they read several other chapters from other authors and will loose overview of what actually happen in the previous chapters.

    Editor: Great idea, but it’s only ONE person.

    I found the combination of all the above best. I have a small group of author buddies and we ping-pong idea, chapters, drafts. I have two non-professional editors who work for a small fee and finally an editor-in-chief of a German publisher (I sold the German rights to them and they are happy to read/edit my final drafts).

    I guess indies are much more flexible and are certainly the drivers of the publishing revolution. Traditional publishers start to listen to us and that is quite unbelievably cool :-)

    OK, sorry, must have coffe now.

    Cheers
    Annelie

  13. Benoit says:

    Great idea! I took the liberty of posting a link on hacker news (a tech news site) to see if there are any takers. Lots of people there could build a service like you describe.

    https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5891921

    • Benoit says:

      “Amazon beta”?

      • Jason says:

        I was certainly thinking of something along those lines. I actually have something in the works, and the advice from Mr. Howey will most definitely be included. I’m glad to see that there are so many people interested in such a model.

        • Mark Oetjens says:

          Jason, PLEASE keep us posted about your service/site! As indie authors we really need somewhere we can go for quality control.

        • Etta Reyes says:

          I agree- this would be a great thing. On the flip side, if I pay for a read through and comments, I hope there might be some way to vet the readers too. Maybe if they had to apply to be beta readers somehow? Or someway to show they really wanted to read and help us out, not that it was a money-making scam…
          (and of course I hope it would include a way to match genres with the reader’s interest)
          But very interesting idea.

  14. Shelagh says:

    Hi Hugh,

    You don’t need to pay for honest feedback. You can join http://www.youwriteon.com and receive blind reviews (you have to review in return on the same basis). YouWriteOn’s premise is simple: members upload opening chapters or short stories and the YouWriteOn system randomly assigns these to another member to review. You then review another member’s story excerpt — assigned to you at random — each time you want to receive a new review back in return. After 8 reviews a story enters the chart system and the highest rated writers receive free feedback each month from editors for leading publishers Orion and Random House.

    • I should have mentioned these online workshops. I have participated in some (and in live-meeting writing groups), and I love them. I think they are a fine addition to the process. One thing I’ll note, however, is that feedback from other writers is helpful when writing, but feedback from non-writers seems to help me the most when publishing. And most “for trade” beta processes naturally involve writers looking at works from a writer’s perspective.

    • ABE says:

      Some of us would far rather pay a fee to a beta reader, especially one who is a writer, than have to critique back.

      It is a matter of energy (pun intended): providing feedback on another’s writing is a lot of work, and keeping someone else’s story in my head is impossible for me (CFS brain fog).

      I love this idea of Hugh’s. I would add that it would be good to have the reader’s basic qualifications known: gender, age range, what they generally read for pleasure, and whether they are a writer (beginner, published a few, long-term) or not.

      I doubt many long-term writers would have the time for this, but feedback comes from a context of the reader’s life – even though I know perfectly well that most individuals have many outliers from their stereotypes.

      Sign me up!

  15. That’s actually a pretty cool idea. Nothing ground-brakingly new, but then… why doesn’t anyone put it into practice?

  16. What a fantastic idea.
    Anyone interested in reviewing horror contact me via facebook https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCarolineGebbie

  17. M. L. Doyle says:

    You are so right! I cringe when I read the facebook posts from authors who say…”I just finished my first draft!” A couple days later, they say, “I just hit PUBLISH.” And then the ones who complain that they are getting one star reviews for too many typos. “So what if I have a problem with spelling!” Really?

    I’ve been in writing workshops for years. I workshop every page, then when the first draft is finished, I use beta readers and rewrite and rewrite, then pay an editor to comment and check all my line edits. Maybe it’s because my first published book was published by a big NY house and I know how flawless the work was when released. I’ll be indie publishing my first novel in August, and I want it to have the same exacting standards. Indie shouldn’t mean sloppy.

  18. EW Greenlee says:

    This was a great post. I incorporated a beta reader group for my mythological trilogy. I received excellent commentary which changed some the final narrative. IMHO, it is about satisfying readers and not those in the publishing industry.

  19. Couldn’t agree more Hugh! If I was at all tech savvy I’d take a crack at it. That aside, knowing when to hit the publish button is one of the biggest challenges facing self-published authors. If one is lucky enough to have fans clamoring for your work, it can be tempting to give them what they want and whip it out of the oven too soon.

  20. RrustyDawg says:

    This service would be a natural fit for Amazon to spin up. And to make the win-win equation better, the rewards should be book based rather than cold hard cash…meaning Amazon issues the beta a free book credit redeemable for any e-book priced $10 or less. The reward nature pretty much assures the authors that the betas are enthusiastic readers and not just a group of frat boys looking for extra beer money.

    Amazon could charge for the service by lowering the writer sales percentage a few points for the first 3-6 months and requiring the e-books be Amazon-exclusive during that same time frame. The accumulated commission charge would have a maximum cap, so the author wouldn’t fear paying too much if they write the next “Wool”.

    As an added incentive for new self-publishers to use this service, Amazon could offer some minor benefit that would aid the book. Maybe just a digital badge that could be displayed on the book listing saying “Amazon-beta approved”. To keep the playing field level, the designation would be limited to first-time self publishing authors.

    Amazon helps improve the quality of the books they offer, writers get access to decent feedback, betas get free books, readers get a system that helps find quality freshman writers. It has win-win-win-win written all over it.

    • RrustyDawg says:

      Man….after reading the brilliance of my take on this idea, I hope Hugh forwards it to Jeff Bezos himself! (God knows they have each other on speed dial) All I ask is J.B. to buy me a beer sometime and remember me fondly in his will. ;-)

  21. Great idea, as everyone has said. And, as one person above noted, Amazon (via KDP) would be a natural site for such a service to start, as a reader-driven forum.

    One tweak I might add to this fine idea is to suggest that beta readers “register” as genre-specific. I think that it’s most helpful to get feedback from literate people who are also knowledgeable about specific genre conventions and the expectations of readers of particular kinds of books.

    Another possible tweak is that authors who are assisted give their beta readers ratings and reviews, just as books get from readers. Sort of an “Angie’s List” arrangement for beta readers. This would put the betas’ reputations on the line…if they cared to “register” openly, by name. If they did not — if they chose to remain anonymous — they could be issued a fake name or unique identifier. Then, authors would know in advance how useful the help would likely be for them.

    Finally, betas with the highest rankings could perhaps even set their own higher prices for their feedback services. Why not? Why should they be inundated with manuscripts and offered only a fixed $10 rate, when their advice might be far more useful than that from other betas? Let the marketplace decide, I say.

    But however this occurs, I think the idea has great merit. All it will take is someone with an entrepreneurial bent to set it up.

    • Jason says:

      This is more along the lines of what I was thinking. I love the idea of letting the free market determine the worth of people’s work/ideas, and the more democratic the process, the better!

      I’ll have a domain and will be accepting suggestions on the site later this week.

    • Roshawn says:

      What Robert (and RrustyDawg) said.

  22. […] he’s asked by a reader in What do Self-Published Authors Need? what the biggest barrier to quality self-publishing is, Howey shows the compassion that comes with […]

  23. Sheila C. says:

    I love this idea so so much. But I think the true readers who read because they love to, because its ingrained in their DNA…would do it for free. I know I would.

    • Charla.Arabie says:

      You are correct. We do it for free for reasons that Hugh mentions in his answer to Jason’s email.
      For me it is a thrill to read something new and, as yet, unpublished. It is a chance for me to use strengths that I possess to help someone else make their story better. It is humbling and self fulfilling to have someone trust me with something that they care about deeply — their story, their work, their baby.
      All that being said, it is hard work if you take it seriously. Each beta reader brings their own unique strengths to the table. I have worked with incredibly creative people in this process, and that is exciting.
      Like Hugh states above, beta readers serve a different purpose than those writers who critique someone else’s work. I am not a writer, I am a reader who can analyze and give feedback. Sometimes it’s not easy, but the end goal must always be to be helpful in making a better book. All readers deserve that.

      • Sheila C. says:

        Insightful response Charla, thank you! I would love to be a beta reader…I just devour books…god ones that is. I can imagine it would be very satisfying.

        • Charla Arabie says:

          Message me on Facebook, and I can set you up with a couple of short stories. This way, it’s not an entire book, and you can try it to see if it suits you. :)

  24. tmso says:

    While I agree this is a good idea, the thing is…don’t online critique groups (most of them free) already serve this function? (I’m thinking sites like Critters.org.)

  25. […] it, and then write something else and immediately publish that, too. (In fairness to him, certain other posts make clear that he’s not actually advocating this, but I’d like to address the […]

  26. Caleb Blake says:

    One of the reasons I got involved in reviewing indie works on my site is that I wanted to be a small part of the framework that supports a publishing model that I still believe has more potential to benefit me as a reader than the current/previous model.

    I too thought about collectives and various support services for independent authors to get some measure of the quality control they could expect from traditional publishers without having to limit ideas to a narrow range of subjects that are considered saleable.

    Unfortunately, I had to face the reality that unless I was going to do something drastically different with my money and time, such an endeavour was not going to get off the ground. I’ve tried to learn not to kid myself on these things.

    I would have liked to see a small pool of editors/specialised readers, cover artists and ebook producers focusing attention on indie authors with the goal of raising the bar on the quality of independent fiction. It certainly wouldn’t be free, but given the number of independent authors, I was thinking increased volume of requests might lead to slightly lower rates.

    It’s a pipe dream really, a bit like creating everything about traditional publishers that I like without the aspects I don’t like. So while I daydream I suppose I should start writing that next review.

  27. […] this interesting blog post on Hugh Howey’s site (if you don’t know who that is, he wrote the bestselling Wool series – read it, read it […]

  28. […] he’s asked by a reader in What do Self-Published Authors Need? what the biggest bar­rier to qual­ity self-publishing is, Hugh Howey shows the com­pas­sion […]

  29. […] PP piece is actually an analysis of a recent blog post by predominantly self-published author Hugh Howey. He’s worked with publishers, both big and […]

  30. I’m currently looking for beta readers for a science fiction novel I’m writing “Perfectible Animals”. I’ll happily pay people $10 for their feedback (via paypal).

    If you’re interested, here’s the log line:

    A geneticist struggling to save his wife from a deadly virus is recruited by a secret organisation to engineer a new version of homo-sapiens, but is arrested for bio-terrorism.

    To contact me, click on my name and contact me via my website.

  31. I find this idea really thrilling, and at the same time, a little bit terrifying.

    I don’t want someone to tell me how to write.

    I don’t want someone to tell me when to rewrite a story. It doesn’t work for me. I have to know and believe in my story; I can’t just let someone tell me what to do.

    Yes, I might get slammed occasionally in reviews.

    Yes, I need to do the best editing I can! I’m working hard to improve there, believe me.

    Paying for opinions is a great idea, getting readers’ feedback is a great idea. BUT, following slavishly anyone who tells you what to do with your writing is NOT a good idea–at least for me! :)

    It just doesn’t work for me. It would have to be a “given” that authors are NOT required in any way shape or form to follow what betas tell them to do–and most likely, the betas would have to remain uncredited and not given either credit or blame for what the author ultimately does or doesn’t do. Otherwise, the money becomes secondary to the ‘favor’ aspect of betaing, which is exactly what the people who pay for a beta read mostly likely don’t want. Just…an opinion, and then to make up their own minds.

    Also I’d like to add, as someone who writes a slightly controversial and somewhat niche genre, that I would only want beta readers who actually read and LIKE what I write! :)

    • Charla Arabie says:

      It is and should not be a beta reader’s goal to tell you how and what to write. The goal should always be to help you make your story better. As avid readers, betas can usually sense when something doesn’t feel or sound right. We call these areas to the attention of the author for their consideration. If your mind is closed to having someone assist you in creating a better story, then you’re dead in the water, and your potential to grow as an effective author may be delayed.

      You are absolutely correct in asserting that you as the author have the final say. What gave you the idea that you are REQUIRED to follow the recommendations of betas? You don’t, but imagine the time that the beta has put in on the behalf of you and your book. To not consider their suggestions is wasteful. If you are not open to constructive criticism, then it’s your story and readers that lose out.

      “It just doesn’t work for me. It would have to be a “given” that authors are NOT required in any way shape or form to follow what betas tell them to do–and most likely, the betas would have to remain uncredited and not given either credit or blame for what the author ultimately does or doesn’t do.”

      This honestly just pisses me off! Sorry for the lack of tact and professionalism. Emotions have come into play at this point. Do you have any idea of how long it takes to effectively beta read a full manuscript? I don’t mean just skimming it and giving a superficial thumbs up or thumbs down. I am talking about reading, analyzing, taking notes, comparing parts of the story that don’t fit, asking questions, including comments, correcting errors in grammar, sentence structure, punctuation, etc. Maybe I do too much as a beta. I’ve been told several times that what I do falls into the category of editing. I don’t ask for anything but time and patience on the part of the author, yet you suggest that betas don’t even get an official acknowledgement. I find that offensive. I don’t ask to be recognized, but when an author sees fit to publicly thank me in the book, it means a lot. If someone reads a book that I’ve helped with and doesn’t like its quality, they won’t seek me out—simple as that. When they do seek me out, and they have, it validates that I’ve done a good job in working in conjunction with that author.

      Money is irrelevant. Paying me isn’t going to make me to a better job.

      “Also I’d like to add, as someone who writes a slightly controversial and somewhat niche genre, that I would only want beta readers who actually read and LIKE what I write!”

      Good writing is good writing; a good story is a good story. The opposite is also true. If someone is offended by m/m romance, I would agree that they would not make good beta readers for you, but to limit yourself to readers who only like what you write defeats the whole purpose.

      If you find any mistakes within this reply, it’s because we are our own worst proofreaders, and I didn’t ask anyone to beta.

      • Charla Arabie says:

        See. A mistake in the first sentence. It should read: It should not be a beta reader’s goal to tell you how and what to write.

  32. […] Hugh Howie–What Self-Pub’d Authors Need now THIS is an insightful idea (who will run with it???) […]

  33. […] What do Self-Published Authors Need? | Hugh Howey […]

  34. wordwan says:

    Oh my god. Now you know why such a simple idea has never materialized. So many of the commenters above add these elaborate contexts to this; as if we need to solve all the problems of the universe for ten dollars worth of feedback!

    Ask five people, willing to do so, to read your book til they stop. “Read Til You Stop” reviews. That’s: $50 and five bits of wordage you can put ANYwhere you want. No website exclusivity. No one owns or owes anyone.

    And no, I don’t want Amazon doing this, they’ll twist it into something profitable for them. I’ll end up having to pay their lawyers for something, I’m sure. *grin*

    I think I understand the context here. Offer a reader ten dollars to read your ebook until he can’t read it anymore. Then that reader must give his feedback on that book.

    Do you pay that little for marketing? Bet you don’t. And ten dollars makes the deal more…concrete.

    It’s that simple.

    Let me know when someone builds something THAT simple. Not all the other stuff I’ve read above.

    A reviews-traded website is filled with JUST writers reading people’s work anxiously so they get a review back. I don’t think that feeds the simple concept of someone reading your work and giving you WHATEVER feedback they are able. There are no credentials require to read a book. Don’t complicate it.

    Thanks.

    Hello, Hugh, I’m Heather. Have fun with what you do.

    Heather
    wordwan

  35. […] What Do Self-Published Authors Need by Hugh Howey at Hugh Howey.com […]

  36. This. Is. Brilliant.

    Race you to the patent office…

  37. […] What Do Self-Published Authors Need by Hugh Howey (@HughHowey) […]

  38. […] as a reader, I love this idea of Hugh Howey’s “What do Self-Published Authors Need?“. Who wouldn’t love to get paid to read someone’s book? I whine about what I […]

  39. […] PP piece is actually an analysis of a recent blog post by predominantly self-published author Hugh Howey. He’s worked with publishers, both big and […]

  40. roguemutt says:

    The solution always seems to involve self-publishing authors ponying up more dough that they’re probably never going to see again.

  41. Ida Smith says:

    What a great idea. This underscores the value of writer’s groups, though they can’t sit down and read your work in one sitting and tend to get focused on how to make it better verses on where they lose interest. If anyone starts a business like this and you find out, please let us know.

  42. Heya we’re in my ballet shoes below. I stumbled upon this particular board and I to find Advertised . helpful & this helped me to away very much. I hope offer something once more as well as assist other individuals just like you made it simpler for me personally.

  43. Profile photo of Roger Huder Roger Huder says:

    I just released my 2nd novel in May. I had it “edited” by a “professional” prior to the release. Sound good right. Well I am lousy at editing my manuscript and my writing skills are shall we say limited but I can tell a story. The novel took off I was doing very well then the reviews started coming in. I had not hired the right editor and the constant barrage of bad reviews based on the bad editing took it toll. So I am in the process of re-editing my book. If I had thought of paying for reads prior to publishing I would have avoided all of the bad reviews and lost money. So the idea to pay for beta readers is a great one. Thanks for the tip.

  44. Profile photo of Roger Huder Roger Huder says:

    How do you find Beta readers for your manuscript?

  45. Bonnie says:

    I think the beta reader idea is very important to any author’s process! I read ** a lot ** of first time and indie authors and have gotten frustrated at times with the lack of basic editing (typos, sentence structure, punctuation, etc). Most of the stories I read are really good however. I have enjoyed many of these stories immensely. I’m thrilled with KDP and all it’s done for indie authors. The last few books that I have deleted before passing the sample reading were all 3 published by MAJOR publishers and were horrible! But that was just my opinion. It’s my money and I chose not to spend it with them and spent it on others instead. Of course anything can be better and books that go through editing and beta reads can usually only be improved.

    I think Amazon is a really great idea, but mostly because to be a good beta reader I do think you should have read at least a few books in that genre and amazon will have that info on file. This should not exclude others (who download their books off other forums) but at least the author can know in the bio whether or not they’ve read books in the genre. I would love to beta read for credits on other books myself! I do it anyway as I read naturally, and I’ve long wanted a way to highlight typos and things so authors can fix them. I’ve suggested that to Amazon myself before.

    If I had been a beta reader for Wool, I would have said that I disliked the name and the original book cover art, but once I read the book I understood the name, even if it didn’t hook me initially. But that’s just one person’s opinion and that’s what authors have to keep in mind – it’s just one person’s opinion. But if a number of people raise the same issue, then it might be something to consider adjusting. However, the story Wool itself was amazing! (I’m reading Dust now). Also, Wool is the only book I’ve read so far that I’ve only found 1 typo and it was an extra space! Now that is good editing. I had to comment on it to coworkers because it’s a close to perfect as I’ve ever found. Plus I have learned a few new words for my vocabulary as well. Thanks Hugh!

    I have a son who is a professional editor and I used the first few paragraphs of Wool to show him an example of someone who is doing it so right. The paragraphs are like butter! We both commented that anyone who uses a semicolon in their first paragraph (may have even been the first sentence of Wool) was someone that we both respected immensely.

    I’m a newly minted first time author myself and would gladly pay someone $10 to be a beta reader who has read books in my genre. I’m currently looking for beta’s in the erotic book genre (m/f). My book is currently in editing with a professional editor and I’m working on some rewrites. But after that, I need betas. But I do not want to be your first book in this genre! Let me know if you are interested: bonnieblueauthor (at) gmail.com)

    Also I recently came across this website – GetBetaReaders.com – that is in Beta (pun intended): http://lnc.hr/8r4Fw I’m hoping they will be ready to accept books when I’m at the point of needing beta readers.

    Hugh, thanks for the good ideas, I appreciate the time you took to help get the conversation started.

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