You know how NaNoWriMo always has those affiliated promotions that somehow manage to feel like your grandma’s coupon book? Look here, 10% off that thing you’ve never heard of and will never actually use!
That’s how I heard about BetaReader.io. Which is a funny sort of start to this post about, you know, Beta Books. But we’ll get there.
I’d never heard of beta software before, but the idea seemed fucking genius. How many times had I juggled print copies and pdfs that garble comments and Word docs that crash with anything larger than, idk, five pages and google docs that somehow feel like bowing to the corporate overlords while also betraying my first love–Scrivener?
And how many times did I have to squash that nauseating worry that someone’s going to run off with my pdf and somehow become the next NYT Bestselling author with it before I get there? (Irrational fear? Yes. Do we all have it? Also yes. Unless I’m Shea Ernshaw, I think I’m safe *she says, reminding herself for the umpteenth time*, but the thought intrudes anyway).
Almost all writers have alphas, betas, and critique partners. Fresh eyes are the light that shines through the broken cracks in our manuscripts–pointing out what we need to fix, where we need to take more care. And for the longest time, it just felt like the logistical nightmare of sharing pages and compiling feedback across ten different platforms was just part of the trade. A necessary hassle. Like exercising: good for us, but a pain.
When I saw there might be a way to streamline that process with this thing called BetaReader.io, I was all
Thankfully I wasn’t at the beta stage back then (in 2019, I think?) because it would have cost me a lot more than it would now. I was prepared to drop $50 a month on it. It now has a shiny new Spotify premium price point that is far more appealing. But we’ll get to pricing in a sec–I’m the Queen of getting ahead of myself.
When I was finishing up Draft 2 edits for my #witchyhorrorromance, The Moon Tells No Lies, in the fall of 2020, I started to look into BetaReader.io (IO from here on out): their services, their pricing, whether or not they were some sort of scam that was going to run off with my manuscript and become the next NYT Bestselling author with it before could I get there….
October hits, I’m planning on sending Moon out to betas on Halloween. The literal night that I was going to make my account with IO, someone on Instagram mentions Beta Books (BB from here on out), and I have a crisis.
I went back and forth between the two websites, checking out features, pricing, interfaces, reading experiences, and a couple of quirks I found along the way. I saved all that as a story highlight on Instagram if you’re curious.
I’ll cover a lot of the same stuff here (with way better pictures) and also expand on what my experience has been at large: from creating the manuscript to running the beta phase to sorting through feedback after it was cancelled. But to start, let’s take a look at some of the comparisons between IO and BB to help explain why I chose the latter.
Both platforms have a free option where you can upload one book and have three readers (great for alphas and CPs). If that is your cup of tea, I said in my IG stories that IO is your guy. The reasoning? It allows you to do inline comments and questionnaires, whereas you’ll need to pay to do either of those things with BB. (IO has different kinds of question types to embed, too, a la Survey Monkey: multiple choice, Likert scale, open answer, etc. if that’s your jam.) However, chapters and questionnaires are the exact same format on BB. So if you’re committed to their free version, you could type out your questionnaires there and just instruct your readers to reply to them through email.
My suggestion, however: if you want free, just use Google docs. Google won’t ever limit the number of manuscripts you can have, and if you’re looking at a small batch of alphas or CPs, then you don’t need the software features that allow you to compile and sort through a metric fuck-ton of feedback like IO and BB are more apt to do. The free versions of these two websites are all but useless, in my honest opinion. So heed me now: free, Google docs.
After the free tier, IO jumps to pro for $9.99 a month, whereas BB has a mid-tier for $14.99 a month and a pro for $34.99 a month. Five bucks between the two platforms isn’t a huge difference; number of readers, however, is. IO corners the market there: you can get unlimited readers for $9.99, whereas BB’s comparable price ($14.99) caps you at twenty readers. BB does try to sweeten the deal, though, by giving you additional features that IO does not have when you upgrade to Pro.
It’s worth checking out the main home pages for both IO and BB since they are selling slightly different features, particularly when it comes to tracking readers.
IO says they have reading data to see where people put the book down. Generally, you want to ask about that anyway, since pacing is pivotal. Having actual metrics on it from the site itself would have been amazing, though. You wouldn’t have to rely on readers’ self-reporting and potentially faulty memory. You’d have actual, objective data. This is the point where readers run into a brick wall. This is where you might lose an agent. People put your book down here.
BB does have track readers, but all that does is display which readers have opened which chapter. It’s still a valuable feature, particularly if you have readers that are opting not to do either inline comments or questionnaires. However, it’s a far cry from having reading data like IO boasts.
Take that with a grain of salt, though, because I’ve seen and worked with BB’s track readers, but I haven’t done the same for IO–I’m going solely off their main page’s description of it. But I know reading data could matter a lot more to other writers than it did to me, so I wanted to mention that during pricing.
Deciding Between BetaReader.io & Beta Books
Considering these websites essentially do the same thing, they have surprisingly different vibes. The user experience–for both writers and readers–is so sensitive because we’re working with a lot of text. Choices like font size, spacing, and color story really impacted how I felt inside the programs. This is where Beta Books really sold me… which, honestly, was unexpected. When on the main pages, I liked IO better; it had a graphic look I found pleasing, as opposed to BB’s more old-html kind of vibe (the pricing screenshots are a great representation of what I mean).
But once I created free accounts to test out each site, IO went downhill fast. It felt cluttered and dark and again a little like an early-2000s website, whereas BB was clean and straight-forward. This is a super silly comparison, but it oddly reminded me of MySpace vs. Facebook, respectively. I expect my readers would enjoy BB’s larger font, bigger spacing, and centered text, and on my end, I knew I liked the blue and white color story better than IO’s cluttered and dark experience. (And this is coming from a girl who does love the color black). Considering my readers and I would all spend hours on whatever site I chose, BB’s better user experience ended up trumping IO’s reading metrics, varied question types, and better price tag.
Aesthetics are super subjective, though, so go with your gut, not mine! I’m gonna err on the side of overwhelming you with screenshots here so you can see for yourself:
Book Home Pages
Table of Contents (Editor Mode)
Two very different experiences, I’d say! Which do you like better?
Mid-Tier or Pro?
Once I decided on BB, I had to decide if I wanted to cap myself at twenty readers (which, in theory, is PLENTY), or upgrade to unlimited. At the time, I had twenty-two people who had expressed interest in reading, so I would have been making an awkward little cut if I kept with the mid-tier. I would have hated it because of my social anxiety, but cutting two people is not a big deal.
Blame it on the anxiety or the idea that a larger sample size is better science. Or maybe we can just assume I liked the shiny features that came along with unlimited readers (reader sign up link and automatic reading reminders). In the end, I said “screw it, let’s do this” and went Pro. The idea of unlimited books and unlimited readers was hella appealing.
As of writing this, 31 people signed up to read Moon; 30 actually started reading on BB; 18 finished the manuscript by the deadline; and 3 people requested more time, so I sent those three a Google doc version to avoid paying another $35 to keep BB going into March.
Based on those numbers, you’d think I’d have some regrets going Pro–I mean, 18 finished, right? (Hopefully that will become 21, but still).
It didn’t exactly work out that way though. Those twenty-two people had expressed their interest before my official call-for-betas post–they jumped the line, basically, because they knew I was heading into the beta phase soon. Once I did the call-for-betas, the pool got bigger. Because of the line jumping, I couldn’t exactly do first-come-first-serve in good conscience, so my solution would have been to cut people I didn’t know (no shit, right?).
However, some of those unknown people not only gave me some of my favorite and most helpful feedback, but we ended up becoming friends throughout the process!
On top of that, I had a handful of people ask to join when I announced a deadline extension on Instagram. If I’d been capped to twenty people at the mid-tier price point, I would have told those people, no. But because it wasn’t any skin off my back, I said, sure, and again, I got a really fantastic batch of late-comers who gave me fantastic feedback. (Plus more friends!)
It’s inevitable that not everyone’s going to finish. But it’s a lot harder to guess who’s not going to finish. And although I love my book-baby, I’m not a helicopter parent by nature, so I wasn’t really interested in pestering my betas to stick to the deadline. (Plus, GURL. Life and pandemic. LIFE AND PANDEMIC).
So even if the numbers still sort of come out to 20 readers (who finished), I would have missed out on great voices if I’d limited myself to the mid-tier. As a result, I have no regrets on spending the extra money on Pro.
Does that mean you’ll have the same experience? Not necessarily. I’m just giving you my two cents, so bank them, spend them, or chuck them as you will!
It is important to note:
You can cancel Beta Books at any time without losing access to your manuscript(s) or your feedback. Canceling just turns off the reader function (i.e. betas can’t access your manuscript or leave feedback once you deactivate). So it’s not like you’re locked into 12 months of $35. That is a HUGE thing to remember when looking at pricing. They have a “get two months free” incentive for annual pricing, which is utter BS in my opinion. But I’ll talk more about canceling later in this post.
Setting Up the Manuscript
Before you let readers in, you have to set up your manuscript. Again, user experience was incredibly important to me, and working with Beta Books was super easy! I think it only took me an evening (and a glass of celebratory wine!) to set up Moon. Everything here also pretty much translates to IO as well if you decided to go in a different direction from me.
Step 1: Title.
Step 2: About the Book (aka a blurb / pitch. Especially important if you’re going to use either site’s pool of beta readers as opposed to finding your own through Instagram or other sites. Beta Books’s blog talks a bit more about how to find beta readers, as does BetaReader.io’s blog, if you want more information there.)
Step 3: Critique Guidance (I’ll address that in more detail in a sec).
Step 4: Table of Contents (aka your manuscript).
To start setting up your table of contents, click on Add a Chapter.
From there, you can either type directly into their rich text editor or just copy and paste from your word processing program. IO claims to have a full manuscript import button, but that ended up being a headache and a half for me because I was using Scrivener–check out my Instagram Stories for the play-by-play, but spoiler alert, I couldn’t get it to work. So I was happy enough to just copy and paste each chapter into BB instead, since that was a broken feature for your not-so-tech-savvy girl.
You can edit as much as you want / need, and I get the feeling that BB is anticipating some of its users might want to revise directly on their website since you can save changes as a separate file. That’s something I won’t be doing, however–Scrivener, as I mentioned, is my bae.
BB has an automatic chapter number feature, which I used at first. (Just an easy clickable box in your table of contents). Annoyingly, however, they included questionnaires in their numbering, since they’re the same blog-style format as chapters. So in this screenshot, you’ll see that I included my own numbers to preserve the original chronology, and then I just left that box unchecked.
A note on the rich text editor.
I didn’t notice until readers got involved, but every now and again, there’d be issues with formatting. Occasionally, BB wouldn’t process a space between words, and when I switched back and forth a lot between italics and regular text, sometimes it would glitch and present regular text as italicized with underscores before and after the passage. It wasn’t often, but I did get typo comments from betas thinking it was an error on my end when in fact it was an error in the software. My ego wasn’t bruised about it or anything, so it wasn’t a big deal for me.
Putting in my six questionnaires (five manuscript related, one meta about how people liked BB–I’ll share those responses in a sec) was equally easy since all I did was type them out. Yes, I was slightly annoyed that they didn’t have different question types, but if I really wanted a Likert scale, I could have just written one in. In the end, I tried to keep it to five questions each (and ten for the end) since they were all open ended. I included survey screenshots in the Deciding Between BetaReader.io & Beta Books header of this post if you want to see those now.
Pro allows you to turn off inline comments if you want to steer your readers solely in the direction of questionnaires, but I liked having both, so I didn’t bother.
Pro also has reading reminders, which are customizable. I set the program to email a reminder to betas if they had been inactive for 14 days, which was a nice “set it and forget it” kind of thing–which allowed me to appear Type A when I’m really chill AF.
Okay, about Critique Guidance
There are no explicit directions from Beta Books to readers about how to navigate the site or leave feedback, but they do give you the option to provide critique guidance. At first, I just included a general “be you!” sentiment, but when I logged in as a reader to test my manuscript, I realized pretty quickly that people might feel a lost without instructions. Below is what I landed on for critique guidance:
Feel free to copy that language if you’d like. Aaaaannnnd I’m just now realizing there are typos. Dope. *facepalm*
In any case.
Next time I use Beta Books, I’m going to add on an extra tidbit about inline commenting.
I found a bit of a quirk on the back end of things.
When you, the writer, are viewing feedback, the software is designed so that you can click on a person’s comment and it will go to that place in the chapter. However, as I’ve been filtering through my feedback, I’ve noticed it only works about 50% of the time. I don’t know if it’s just a glitch at large or if it’s because I have a higher number of betas (it has an easier time if the comment comes from a less-highlighted passage). My workaround has been to do a ctrl + F search for the phrases people highlighted. But some people didn’t highlight phrases I can search–sometimes they just highlighted the period at the end of the sentence so as not to clog up the manuscript with multi-colored underlines. In theory, that’s super appreciated (since, by the end, pretty much the entire thing is highlighted), but because the tech glitches and doesn’t allow me to click and see where the comment comes from, it usually means I have to either guess what they mean or just move on and ignore that comment.
For instance, in this screencast (above), clicking on the first couple of comments brings me to the correct passage, but when I click on the last one, it doesn’t work. Instead, it brings me to the top of the chapter, and if you look really closely at the top left corner, you can see that BB is signaling that her comment is coming from somewhere outside of the text up there. If Alyssa had only highlighted a piece of punctuation, I wouldn’t have been able to search for the moment she was talking about, so I would have had to guess what she thought was spooky in this scene!
In the end, what a person highlighted when they left feedback became really important to me. In the screenshot below, we see one reader who highlighted very little and one reader who highlighted a good amount. Unfortunately, the top reader’s feedback has a high number of broken hyperlinks, so I don’t know what passages they’re referencing. The bottom reader, by contrast, gave me more to work with, so I was able to search for the sections that didn’t come up.
Take that into consideration as you’re setting up your own critique guidance for betas.
Running the Beta Phase
Once the manuscript was set up on my end, it was time to launch the beta phase! I did a call-for-betas on Instagram and an entrance survey through Survey Monkey (contact info, triggering content, genres people read, qualifications, and a little blurb about intellectual property).
[ Since I’ve made so many jokes about it, I should actually assuage some fears on the latter’s front. United States intellectual property law pretty heftily protects content creators (to the point, actually, were international creative companies actually will sue in the US in order to be more fully protected). The second our art exists, we have a claim to it. If someone were to steal your work, you’d just have to provide proof that you are its creator (Scrivener time stamps, Instagram posts, etc.) So don’t go copyrighting anything until you’re ready for that to be your final product–and even then, only do it if you’re self publishing. Traditional publishing handles copyright for you. ]
Dope. Beta readers chosen. Then all I had to do was send them the sign up link Beta Books provides, which prompts them to make a free account and then links them directly to my manuscript.
And then they’re ready to read!
There are two different types of feedback:
To add inline comments, readers highlight a passage and then a toolbar will pop up with quick reactions and the option to comment. At least one beta asked me if there was a way to add different emojis to this toolbar (similiarly to how messenger / DM now works for Instagram); I don’t think that it’s possible, unless you want to read on your phone and comment an emoji instead of clicking one of the preset options (like, surprised, mad, funn, sad, skeptical, typo).
I’m especially grateful for the quick reactions because 90% or so of my praise came from people “liking” a sentence.
Because BB does provide you, the writer, with the option to edit on their platform, you can also leave inline comments on your own work. This screenshot below is one I took of my own manuscript. I can emoji-react and comment, and it will record it. You could opt for the free version of Beta Books as a space to conduct your own self-editing phase. I, personally, like to do what I call the “penning” phase (or red-penning), where I print off my manuscript through a local printer or a chain like Office Depot and then do a read through with a selection of colored pens. Beta Books could be a greener alternative to that, if you’re so inclined!
To view inline comments, you (the writer) have to log onto BB. From there, you have three major options to view feedback:
1: Feedback Tab (on the right beside Contents, Settings, Invitations, and Track Readers)
2: View Chapter, select ~feedback~ at the top right corner (the option I use the most).
3: View Chapter, hover cursor over the highlighted / underlined passages (this works well at first, but if you have more than one person comment on the same passage, it usually only shows you the last person’s feedback).
Option 1, Feedback Proper (for lack of a better term), seems to be the main hub, and as such, it allows you some freedom with how you sort through things: Keywords, Marks (labels you give feedback like to-do, ignore, keep, etc.), Users, and Chapters. You can customize what feedback you want to see at any given time, basically.
Because Option 3 fails when more than one person comments on the same section, Option 2 is what I use the most. If you watched the YouTube clip of me clicking on inline comments, that’s what you were looking at. It’s the happy medium, in my mind, because it allows me to have the manuscript up at the same time as the feedback–and I can click (half of the time) to see what sections people are referencing, since what they highlighted varied.
Inline comments are especially great if you have writers in your beta pool. I’d say my spread was maybe 95% writers, 5% lay readers because I pulled my group mostly from Instagram, which is full of #writingcommunity goodness. Depending on where you are at in your writing journey, you might want a different sort of spread. If you’re pretty confident in your self edits or have paid editors already in place, inline comments might be a giant nuisance because a lot of them inevitably skew more towards micro line-edits. That, I believe, is the reason some writers like the option to turn off inlines and steer betas towards questionnaires instead. I thought my self-edits were pretty damn good, but a few more experienced writers wiped the floor with my filters and fillers (among other things), so I was incredibly grateful that they had an easy way to comment on the words themselves.
Plus, like I said, those quick emojis were LOVELY for people wanting to quickly express their adoration of a particular metaphor or turn of phrase. Sometimes it’s just nice to get some praise during the beta phase, am I right?
Either way, if your betas leave inlines, you will have to log on to BB in order to view them.
End-chapter comments, in contrast, are emailed to you in real time:
Accessing the end-chapter function was the most confusing part when I logged onto a reader. I’m a millenial, so I’m pretty good at clicking on stuff until I figure it out, but I did have to do that. So refer to my critique guidance for instructions on how to pull up the button to leave end-chapter comments.
Questionnaires, as I’ve mentioned, most likely will use the end-chapter function. Again, there aren’t any instructions on how to reply to questionnaires unless you, the writer, give them, which I neglected to do. #whoops. This meant that I got a lot of “I hope I’m doing this right” comments at first. But because questionnaires are the same format as chapters, my betas had already gotten in the habit of using end-chapter feedback to reply, so they all figured it out. Technically, I believe betas could have highlighted each question and left their responses as inline comments, but all of them ended up opting to use end-chapter feedback. So again, critique guidance is key. Direct betas how you’d like based on your workflow and your mental health: inlines live on the website; end-chapters are emailed to you in real time AND live on the website.
As you’d expect, I obsessively logged on in the beginning. The second I got an end-chapter email, I’d dive into the inline comments to get as much information as possible (which was where sorting feedback by user came in handy!). Eventually, though, I got a TON of inline edits from very savvy writers (as well as a couple of not so fun comments, from slightly tactless betas). So to spare my mental health, I decided not to open inline feedback until I was ready to sift through it in earnest.
The result was pretty great, in the end. I got a feel for how things were going in my inbox while the beta phase ran, and I had a built-in way to stop myself from agonizing about micro edits that I wasn’t ready to change yet (Beta Phase is a perfect time to take a BREAK so you can come back with fresh eyes). While the beta phase was running, end-chapter was my jam. Now that I’m starting into Draft 3, the inlines are where it’s at. I know there will be people who chose not to do one or the other, but I really like the balance both offer.
How to Cancel
The beauty of Beta Books is the easy on-and-off switch. This company could have easily been a total dick about it and said, “yeah, if you want to view your feedback, you need to keep paying us.” Instead, they recognize you’re not always going to be beta-ing, but you might always want access to what your betas said.
Because it’s a renewing subscription, they keep your credit card on file while your plan is active, which you can manage in the ~subscription~ menu tab. When you’re ready to cancel, there’s an easy one-click cancellation button in hyperlinked blue. Afterwards, it continues to hold that card on file so you can easily select which plan you’d like the next time you’re ready for betas. Easy on, easy off.
To me, it looks like switching plans while it’s active actually would be a bigger hassle than cancelling or restarting BB (emailing them vs. just clicking a button). So, again, take that into consideration with both pricing (choosing a plan) and program (choosing BB or IO). Companies know that inconvenient cancellation processes will usually keep people subscribed (notice how that always happens with email subscriptions??), so I’m A), glad that Beta Books again was not a dick about cancellation at large, and B), surprised that switching plans is technically more inconvenient.
When you cancel, the only thing that changes–on your end–is a little yellow label that says “deactivated” on your book home. You still have access to your manuscript, your questionnaires, and every comment that your betas worked tirelessly to give. You don’t lose anything. Betas just can’t log on and read anymore. Because my readers knew that, some of them actually did a speed run at the end because they wanted to read it again, which is just about the best compliment I could have asked for!
In my mind, cancellation makes their annual plan obsolete.
Unless you’re so prolific that you’re beta-ing a new project the second you’re done with the old one, I don’t think you’ll use an annual plan. Just go with month-to-month and cancel when you’re ready.
Turning BB back on is just as easy. After I’m done with my next draft, I might throw it onto the site and turn BB back on. My betas worked really hard to help shape my pacing and my character arcs (macro changes, as opposed to micro), so I think they deserve, at the very least, to see the fruits of their labor if they want. Plus, I mean, it never hurts to get more feedback as drafts continue to shape and grow. I love that I already have the website and the subscription in place so that when I’m ready, I just have to click a button to let readers back in.
Testimonials from Betas
I included a meta questionnaire at the end to see what my betas thought of the process at large:
Thank you SO much for making it to this point and for all of your feedback! I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it.
One final question:
1. How did you like using BetaBooks to read this manuscript? Were its tools helpful or easy to use? Was there anything about this process with me–from call to betas, to survey, to reading on this platform–that you wished had been a little different?
Below are the responses, so you can see for yourself:
“I really like this platform. Just wish there were a bunch if emojis to choose from. And I worried I didn’t leave enough end of chapter feedback because I left too much inline feedback. And it was hard to tell where I left off because the radio buttons on the main chapter page don’t turn green unless you leave end of chapter feedback. But from experience with Word and Google docs, this was so much easier!!!!”
“From my end, this worked very well! I hope it’s user friendly on your end, too!”
“Great platform! loved that I could highlight and leave comments in the text! Easy to read on my phone too!”
“I liked using BetaBooks to read the manuscript. I don’t have anything else to compare it to, but it was easy and the reminders (sorry that you had to send them to me) were really helpful!
I thought that this process was super easy and smooth for me as potential and then chosen reader and don’t think I would have or could have asked for anything to be different!”
“I have nothing but good things to say about BetaBooks – everything about it felt intuitive and organized. I liked being able to add inline comments as well as end-of-chapter feedback. I appreciated that the bubble next to each chapter in the table of contents didn’t fill in until I’d given end-of-chapter feedback, as that prompted me to make sure and share my thoughts on each chapter as a whole. I think I otherwise might have given feedback only at the end of super noteworthy chapters, so the fact that I had an OCD-ish need to fill every bubble means more feedback for you haha! 😉 I appreciated the fact that the interface allowed me to see ALL of my feedback in one place as well, so that if I ever needed to check what I’d said about a certain event, I could just scroll down to the needed chapter and find my comments easily – that was so, so helpful. I feel like this entire process has been nothing but smooth sailing, from connecting with you about wanting to participate, to the extension of the deadline lol (much appreciated btw!). I don’t really have any suggestions as far as things to improve, I really do feel like things went so smoothly, and I felt comfortable connecting with you if need be – for any question I might have, or just to gush over Amelia and Ford. :)”
“The site is good. It was very comfortable to and write feedback actually. Me likey. And honestly I am so thankful that you let me be a part of this last minute. I literally did not think that when I replied to your story like 2 weeks ago? But hey! If did finish it around your actual initial deadline date. You are a very VERY amazing person, Christina. And I honestly cannot wait for this book to come out.”
“It was convenient. I like the tools. It’s simpler than any form of word processor to leave comments on.”
“I like this! I’m tempted to use it myself, actually!”
“It was pretty good – I prefer hard copies of things (but I’m old fashioned). There were somethings I wish I had like – comment related to grammar or punctuation or formatting vs a general comment. I do wish the time to read this hadn’t gone over NaNoWriMo and the holidays – that made me have to take big breaks between reading which I felt bad about. But that’s not your fault!
Thank you again for letting me be a beta! <3″
“Betabooks is very slick and clever and i enjoyed the experience.”
“I love using BetaBooks! And everything about this process has been very smooth. You’ve been so accommodating and understanding and I’m so thankful you let me read this story!”
Easy to use
Feels more formal, so less worried about people stealing (not like that’s a big deal)
Great for aggregating a lot of feedback
All feedback’s in one place
Free for betas, plan tiers for writers
Different kinds of feedback (inline and end-chapter)
Easy to turn on and off
Betas seemed to really like it
No question types / data on answers or reading
Random formatting issues
Random glitches when clicking on comments
No full manuscript import (but that didn’t work for me on IO anyway)
Unlimited readers more expensive than IO’s unlimited readers
Would I use it again?
This is my first revolutionary tech discovery since Scrivener.
And like with Scrivener, I don’t think I’ll ever go back to the way I worked before.
Unless something strange happens with the pay tiers or Beta Books decides to be a dick about the cancellation process, this is it. This is the way I will run my beta phases from here on out. I loved having a more formalized process that was designed by creatives for creatives. All of my feedback is in one place, and it’s easy to sort through in multiple ways.
It streamlined everything for me.
Though, of course, I do have some anxiety about it. I’m in the process, at the moment, of compiling it all into a paper copy before I start revising. Beyond just the ease of turning 30 comments into 1 chronological thing, I do like knowing that I don’t have all my eggs in the Beta Books basket–in case servers crash or something unforeseen happens.
In a lot of ways, penning’s no different from me backing up my Scrivener-drafted chapters in Google Docs.
Writers all have horror stories about losing chapters or, God forbid, whole manuscripts (looking at you, Word). If a lot of time and effort goes into something, it’s generally a good idea to have copies or backups. I’m glad that if the company suddenly files for bankruptcy or its servers crash, I at least have those end-chapter comments in my email inbox and what work I’ve done by hand. It might be worth saving a print-pdf of inline comments too, while I’m at it.
But that’s not exactly relevant to my recommendation here. I’m in rabbit hole about backups instead of concluding. So let me fix that real quick.
I like Beta Books.
I like the way it works, I like the way it looks, I like the way it makes me feel about my process. I will use it forever and for always, as long as the company allows me to in good conscience.
IO might have been my door into this world of beta software, but despite its steeper price tag, BB won out for me in the end.
So in the immortal words of one Philip J. Fry,
Audrea Martin says
This was super helpful and thorough! I am starting my first beta phase and was hoping for something that would streamline the process.