Beta Reading

First drafts aren’t perfect, and they don’t have to be! Writers rely on professional beta readers to give them high-level, helpful feedback on characters, plot, pacing and reader engagement. Move onto the next phase of editing with a little bit of insight from an old-school beta.

Professional Beta Reading Services

Timeframe: 30-day minimums, 3-5 business days for first response

What’s expected: Minimum of 2 pages of feedback and comments (contact me to see the rubric)

What this service does NOT entail: Copy edits, line edits, formatting, sensitivity reading

Projects not suited for me: children’s fiction, MG fiction, nonfiction, violent horror

Projects I love: dark fantasy and literary, adventure, LGBTQ fiction, humor, YA

First 60 pages$35
Full manuscript (<120k)$75
Second pass$50
Short fiction (<10k)$35
Long fiction (>120k)varies
Beta Reading Pricing

My Experience


A good draft doesn’t happen on the first try, and good feedback doesn’t come from inexperience.

  • 10+ years of experience providing feedback to writing creatives, from screenwriters to poets
  • Consistent, honest, constructive feedback for numerous novels (including ones that are destined to be published soon)
  • Membership of several writing communities
  • Workshop and collegiate training
  • A measurably limited attention span (Why is that good?! Well, I can give detailed notes on when I am disengaged, which is a powerful tool when controlling your story’s pacing.)
  • Professional experience in multiple writing industries

Testimonials

“Steph’s critiques include deep analysis of plot beats, pacing, and theme along with thoughtful insights on characters and their motivation. Steph combines her professional knowledge of good writing and storytelling with a good sense of humor. Her feedback is thorough, helpful, and encouraging!”

Ally Dahlin

FAQs


Read more about my beta reading services:

Q: Does this mean you won’t beta read for free?

A: I’m happy to give a “friend-discount” and I do sometimes beta-read for free; however, this is usually a quid pro quo. In situations I read for free, typically the expectation is that you would beta-read for me for free, and I am not always in the need for new beta readers. If you want to swap projects, contact me, as I may be in need for new readers myself. I don’t bite!

Q: How harsh are you?

A: Make no mistake, I am a “vicious reader.” I tend to be very direct with my feedback. On a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the most blunt, I tend to lean toward an 8. Note that I’m zeroed-in on constructive criticism ONLY; being mean for the sake of being mean is trashy feedback that you should not accept from anyone!

Are you a new writer? Are you scared of harsh criticism of your work? I might not be the best beta for you, and that’s okay!

I’m only interested in supporting creatives who want support and want to improve. My goal is to work with you to make the best book possible.

Q: What can I expect as far as feedback/notes?

A: I have a long rubric that I use as a jumping off point for my notes, including the following:

  • Characterization
  • Plot and pacing
  • Suspension of disbelief
  • Prose quality
  • Tone
  • Overall impressions

You can read my rubric before paying for services; get in touch with me for details.

You should NOT expect line edits, copy edits, grammar edits, in-depth developmental recommendations, Amazon reviews, cover recommendations nor sensitivity reading.

Q: Are you LGBTQ+ friendly?

A: Yes, I am a safe space for LGBTQ+, POC and diverse creators.

That being said, as a white bi creator, I might not be able to give much input on some diversity concerns of your story, such as whether or not something is #ownvoices enough, issues of offense, or authenticity concerns for groups I’m not a part of. Those are concerns you should bring to a sensitivity reader of the group in question, which I am not. I may recommend those services, but I will not be providing them at this time in my beta reading service, even for groups I am a part of.

Q: What sort of projects do you prefer?

A: My specialty is light fantasy, LGBTQ+ fiction and YA but I am open to all genres save for some brands of violent horror.

Q: What sort of projects do you turn away?

A: I will likely not be interested in these projects:

  • Unfinished books (This is bad for you AND me.)
  • Books with “on camera” severe violence, torture or rape scenes (My imagination is overactive and I will have nightmares. A lot.)
  • Nonfiction or memoirs (I am not the best at this.)
  • Anything that messes with my personal triggers, which is why I ask for them (See the getting started section.)
  • Children’s fiction and MG (See below.)

The reason I might turn away a middle-grade piece is that I am not a reader of that genre enough to know its conventions/considerations (such as vocabulary or maturity level). But I’m happy to read as an adult with the understanding that it’s an adult reader who isn’t a teacher and doesn’t have kids!

Note that I won’t necessarily turn away those looking for readers of their poetry chapbooks or screenplays, as I have some professional experience with both mediums. That being said, my limited experience might not necessarily help you out of the dreaded “slush pile” and you will likely want other eyes besides mine who work actively in those industries.

Q: Why are your timeframes so long?

A: I cannot escape that 9-to-5. What a way to make a living!

Q: Why do you have those prices?

A: They’re comparable to what’s currently on sites like Fiverr. They’re also comparable to the price of a really fancy hoodie.

Q: What about refunds?

A: Refunds are only applicable to breaches of contract, such as going over deadlines.

Q: What’s a “second pass”?

A: I provided feedback, you did substantial edits (more than 1/3rd of the book has changed), and you want another round of beta reading. Think of it as a discounted rate for projects I’ve already worked on.

Q: How do I get started?

A: Contact me at steph dot L dot nolan at gmail dot com with an email that says BETA in the subject line. In the content of the email (not in an attachment), please provide the following:

  • Title
  • Genre(s)
  • Wordcount
  • Comparable books (if you don’t have these, say so)
  • A one-to-two paragraph description of the project (such as a log line, query letter or short summary)
  • A list of trigger warnings for the book (ex. suicidal ideation, binge eating, etc.)
  • The first page

Please allow me 3-5 business days to get back to you on my interest.

(If I do not get back to you within that timeframe, I may not be interested or may be busy with other projects. Or I might be dead. Or on Mars. Or dead on Mars. Because I’m normally pretty good at getting back to people and it would be weird if I didn’t. So if I don’t respond, assume I’m dead on Mars.)

Other Details

The next step of the process will be to agree on timeframe, sign paperwork, go over the rubric, submit payment, and cover any questions you may have. I am available for one 30-minute meeting on discord and zoom after 6pm EST if you’d like a formal discussion before the beta read.

I recommend sending a .doc, .odt, or Google doc file rather than a .pdf, because I’d prefer to leave comments as I work. (I would NOT recommend checking these comments on Google docs as I read, as they might not make sense to you.)

Typically, expect a 30-day turnaround for 60 pages, with a two-month turnaround for a full MS, but these timeframes will need to be discussed in the earlier sign-off phase.

At the end of the read, you should expect the completed rubric, my overall impressions, finalized comments on your MS and answers to questions you may have had in the initial phase. I will be available for one 30-minute meeting on discord and zoom after 6pm EST if you’d like a face-to-face discussion.

Sharing can be the hardest thing in the world. I am honored to be considered one of the beta readers of your work.