beta readers

The Travails of the eBook

Diane Duane wrote an interesting post responding to a shocking post from Teleread.  They are both facinating reads about the travails of the eBook market, and the odd problems publishers are having moving their content over, including these new editions are adding horrid typos to the text such as:

“The reader is invited to examine the next Jew chapters…” (Teleread)

Ack, how could a publisher miss that?

Enter the eBook

Publishing is in crisis.  I don't think there are any readers or writers out there that are unaware of the problems the industry is having.  The eBook market, like the audiobook market, was seen as a small niche market by the publishers, so they didn't pay much attention to the quality of either.

Now that both are taking off as preferred methods for reading their lack of attention is biting them in the butt.

Compounding issues is that as these formats are taking off, more authors are checking out of the old school publishers and moving to publish their own books.  This gives rise to new issues.

Where have all the editors gone?

Small press and self-publishers often don't have the money or the prestige to attract editors, and the work suffers.

I have had this issue.  I enjoy working with editors, and feel like it makes my work better, but as a self-publisher, the cost of an editor is a problem.  Most services are just for copy editors, and that is important, but I am more interested in having a content editor I can develop a relationship with.

There are not many options for folks like me.  We are desperately in need of a new model.

Beta Readers?

I have thought about setting up a beta reader site to control who has access to it so I can gather a group of trusted readers together to comment on my fiction while I am working on it.  My biggest problem with that is that I would probably have to consult a lawyer to make sure that everything works smoothly, and to help me write a license explaining in legalese what the relationship between me and the beta readers would be.

Wow, that is starting so sound complicated.  I am not sure if I want to get involved with all these issues.  Complexity stifles innovation.

I am not sure what the solution to this would be.  Maybe there should be a beta reader license foundation like the Creative Commons Foundation to maintain such a license, but that seems like a dream at this point, but it is something to look at.

What solutions do you have?  How can we make eBooks better?

Help me Share More with you

I've written quite a bit aboutmy latest project, but now I have an issue, a sort of strange one.  I kinda want to beta the setting and the story...

I love my readers!  You are very helpful and supportive, and I miss the closeness we developed when I was writing for Amazon Shorts.  The immediacy of the medium helped to keep me motivated, and got you all involved in my creative process.  We knitted together in a special and meaningful way.  I miss that, and want to bring it back.

Thailand - Ayuthaya 5 - Buddha head by mckaysavage

I have a problem here.  I honestly don't want to make this special content open to everyone.  That might sound horrible, but one of the elements that added to my Amazon Shorts experience was low-cost of entry.  The low-cost of the shorts provided a barrier to readers, weeding out the casual readers.  This elite group really loved the setting and the stories, so they paid the entry fee.

While I might be wrong, I feel like we were able to connect and work together to make each story better.

I don't want comments from random readers.  I'll get those when the finished stories come out.  I release my books and stories free and paid, so I hear from random readers then.  For me, the purpose of a beta is to engage readers who love the work and really want to make it better.

Building a Member Site

I feel like I have to make it clear, I am not talking about turning all the dashPunk blogs into exclusive members sites.  I am thinking about setting up special member sites for the settings I am developing.  Those new sites will have some free and some members only content.

Would a small membership fee help or hurt?  Well, since I've decided to forgo mainstream publishers because I don't see the benefit of giving 75% of the money I make to a company that doesn't provide much of a benefit, I need to ensure that I have the money to submit the books to online stores.  Member fees would help with that.  It would also be a better way to tally the seriousness of votes.

For example, I am torn between two setting right now, I could (theoretically) use member counts to find out which setting you all want to see my next book in... or I could add a members only section to Blade Opera and post on both settings.  I could take the feedback more seriously because I know I am dealing with my core audience.

It might be stupid, but I am not sure what would work better.

Pay Wall as Social Proof?

Perhaps I have become too much of a capitalist over the years, but I want to make this beta site something very special for my readers.  A place for us to refine and perfect the stories.  I have noticed a marked difference in the level of setting knowledge exhibited by those who have bought a copy of one of my books compared to those who have read a free copy online.

Those of you who bought the books have asked me questions about things I didn't think anyone would notice.  Admittedly, this data is skewed, because you are the same readers that make it out to convention appearances, which makes you a special breed unto yourselves, but it is something I have noticed.

To me, anyone who is willing to spend a couple bucks a month to participate has a greater level of passion about the subject than those who are just willing to sit around and wait for the next book to come out.  It's that passion I want to harness for the betterment of the work.

Beta Testing

Most beta tests are a lottery.  Testers sign up and submit their system details, and are randomly selected based on what is needed for the test.

The only requirement I have is that you love my writing and sincerely want to help.  How can I check for those credentials?

I have posted stories to Authonomy and WeBooks, and often received unwanted comments about my sexuality and spam.  Not helpful.  If someone wants to give me money to call me a faggot, then more power to them.  A small pay wall feels like a good way to weed those people out of the garden.

Please Comment

Whether you love or hate the idea, please leave a comment.  I am not trying to hide the content I already post, I am desperately looking for a way to share my creative process that is currently hidden away in my Scrivner and EverNote with my most passionate readers.

If you are against the idea of a pay wall, please tell me why.

If you think it is worth a try, how much should it cost and what content would you expect to find there?  Do you want one for each project, or should I add it to my personal site (Blade Opera)?

Do you know of any alternatives?  I am really open to suggestions.