If you are considering recruiting beta readers, then you might be worried about plagiarism. I have a method for sending chapters that might not only help ease your worries, but that is also beneficial to your beta readers.
First of all, everyone has their own method. This post is based on my experiences as well as reading about other writers’ experiences, and why I think sending a few chapters at a time is best. It might not necessarily be right for you.
Here’s why you should send one chapter or a few chapters at a time…
1. It Can Ease Some of Your Anxiety
A lot of writers are terrified of sending their work to someone and part of the reason is fear of plagiarism. It’s not likely to happen but it still can. If you are worried about sharing your whole manuscript with someone, try sending 1 to a few chapters at a time.
This gives you a chance to evaluate your beta reader’s feedback and see if they are worth keeping as a beta. Whereas if you send your entire manuscript, you don’t know how their feedback will be right away.
If they don’t get back to you, oh well. You only sent them a few chapters. It’s better than sending the entire thing and biting your nails, wondering why they never returned a message.
2. It Gives You a Chance to Evaluate Beta Feedback
As I had mentioned in number 1, if you send chapter by chapter you can check your beta reader’s feedback to see if it’s what you are looking for. Is it detailed enough and does it seem honest? These are things you can look out for when you send smaller sections.
If the beta is not providing the feedback you want, you can politely ask them to give a few more details. It doesn’t hurt to ask. If they still aren’t for you, then you can always drop them. Nicely of course.
3. It Gives Betas a Chance to Choose
Sending small portions of your work can give readers the option to choose if they want to keep reading your manuscript. You do not want a beta who hates your book.
Readers are less likely to give detailed and constructive feedback when they are reading something they don’t enjoy. That isn’t fair to you or your book. It’s not to say your betas should give loads of praise. That’s far from what you need.
You need betas who are interested in your book and ones who give constructive criticism.
4. It Doesn’t Overwhelm the Reader
Sending a 70k book to someone isn’t so bad, if they are reading it purely for enjoyment. Now imagine receiving that same book, but you have to answer questions for each chapter.
Think of it this way: As a writer you probably looked over your outline or ideas and went fuck. This is going to require a lot of writing to complete this book. You don’t feel as motivated now do you? Rather then viewing your book as a whole, it’s better to focus on smaller portions. Write chapter by chapter, word count by word count. You get the idea.
The same goes for beta readers. It’s less daunting on them if you send your book in sections. They will be more adamant about finishing it.
5. Your Book Will be Easier to Remember
Sometimes you might have a question about the feedback your beta sent. If you sent smaller portions, your beta readers will be more likely to remember the chapter you’re asking about.
With an entire book they might have to return back to that section. This takes more time on their part. They also might not be able to answer your questions as thoroughly if they had remembered it better.
You don’t have to accept everyone who volunteers to beta read your book. If you feel that your beta readers aren’t a good fit, don’t be afraid to thank them, and let them off easy.