Beta Reading – The Interview Style

I recently found Dolls Don’t Cry, a YA book, to beta read on Tumblr.  A couple months ago I beta read E. Kathryn’s Fire’s Hope, and I talked about that marvelous experience here.  While the author of Dolls Don’t Cry would prefer I not share her story ideas here, I will share her chosen beta reading style and its pros/cons!  This was the first time doing an interview style beta read, so I definitely learned a lot.

Interview Style Beta Reading

Last time, with Fire’s Hope, I talked about ‘Question Style’ beta reading – giving the reader either a chapter or host of chapters followed by some pointed questions aimed at eliciting the information you want.

The Interview Style has a similar idea behind it, except the reader doesn’t know the questions beforehand and answers the questions during an interview after each section is complete.

Pros of Interview Style Beta Reading

When you aren’t speaking with your reader directly, you may not be able to elicit an answer you need.  If you need more information, you have to wait – and, by then, your reader may not remember enough about the previous chapter or give you what you need.  During an interview,  you can instantly press for additional information and tweak your questions in real time.

From a reader’s perspective, I think I give different answers on the spot than I would if I have the opportunity to study.  When doing an interview, I have to rely mostly on what I remember rather than what I can look up.  If I can look up information, I may do so in order to seem smart, or I may question my memory rather than how obvious an earlier piece of information may have been.

Cons of Interview Style Beta Reading

When you do an interview style beta read, both you and your reader must put forth the time and effort to chat.  For me as a reader, this often felt hard to do – I’d schedule a time and it worked out well, but it added a significant amount of time to what I already had to do.  For the author, you’d similarly have to set aside time for interviews.  Right now, I’m doing an interview every chapter, and they take between 30 minutes and an hour – that would get really cumbersome with multiple readers!

When you ask questions on the spot, you run the risk of not allowing your reader to tell you something important that they pick up.  I’ve found that I must forego thoughts on smaller issues, like specific sentences or paragraphs, and sometimes the questions don’t really get around to some of the things I find pressing.

Lessons Learned

I didn’t really like the interview style.  It felt forced, and I’d rather my reader have ample opportunity to plan what they want to say.  I also didn’t like the scheduling part – even though I didn’t often have anything pressing to do in the evenings, I did have to arrange things such that I could talk with the author.

As a whole, I’m glad I got the opportunity.  Now I know that I’m not suited to this kind of beta reading, and I’ll be better able to direct my energies.

I hope that the author of Dolls Don’t Cry got good answers from me, but I worry that I may not have answered terribly well.  I hope she lets me know what happens next with her publishing adventures!

Do you have any books you’d like beta read?  Do you have experiences beta reading that you’d like to talk about? Let me know in the comments!

4 thoughts on “Beta Reading – The Interview Style

    • H.R.R. Gorman says:

      About a month back I decided to try tumblr, since it’s supposed to be a blog that’s groovy with the teens/college age kids these days. I found this author on tumblr. If you’ve never tried it, it’s… *interesting.* I’m not quite sure I like the atmosphere, and I’m not sure how active I’ll remain in the near future.

      However, after having perused that crazy world for a little while, I’ve found that they perpetuate the thought that people who find your unpublished ideas are going to steal them and publish first. I’m of the opinion that’s not quite the right way to think about it, but I see how that could be an easy thing to imagine and fear. Part of my beta reading agreement with her was to not discuss the content of her work.

      • Tom Darby says:

        I’ve never fancied tumblr after it changed in 2012. Negative thinking leads to negativity all the way around in my pee-brain. Thanks for cluing me in on this sort of agreement.

      • H.R.R. Gorman says:

        I didn’t really hear about it until it became recently popular. I heard there was a writing tumblr group, so I gave it a whirl. It’s just so weird and the site is nearly impossible to search.

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