Beta Reading

Whilst I would never claim to be anything near a professional editor, I adore reading and am incredibly fussing. A winning combination for beta readers so I’m told! I do enough writing and design in my day job to know that sometimes you spend so long working on something that you can't see an obvious mistake staring you in the face. Sure, you know your characters and story inside out, but does it come across to the reader? My job is to be a fresh pair of eyes for your story, to make sure that your vision comes across the way you intended it to and to help you elevate your manuscript to the next level.

What do you get?
I'll return your manuscript with my thoughts, feeling and comments as I read, along with a summary at the end of each chapter. I'll also send a full overview of your manuscript (typically 3-4 pages), focusing on the following areas;

First impressions
  • The protagonist. Did I like them? Did I care/was I suitably invested in their journey?
  • Was the point of view(s) suitable and well used?
  • Was there a clear sense of time and place setting?
  • Thoughts on the writing style. Was it suitable for the story? Overly descriptive? Not descriptive enough?
Opening
  • Does the opening contain a hook that will grab the reader's interest and make them want to keep reading?
  • Are the characters/worlds suitably easy to grasp?
  • Are essential elements of the story well explained? Are there any aspects which are confused or muddled and require more explanation?
Story/Plot
  • Do any elements of the story seem clich├ęd or too “deus ex machina”?
  • Does the plot seem contrived at any point?
  • Does the story and the events in it stick to the rules that the novel has established (particularly important in fantasy novels)?
  • What was enjoyable about the story? Were there any aspects in particular that grabbed my attention? What was my favourite part?
  • Is the plot engaging? Were there any points where I lost interest?
  • At what point did I first stop reading?
  • Are significant plot points given the weight they deserved?
  • Is there a good mix of showing vs telling? Or was there too much exposition?
  • Is the story fresh and innovative? Does it offer anything new to the genre?
Characters and Motivation
  • Does the protagonist have a clear voice and personality? Do their actions seem organic and believable?
  • Is the antagonist well written? Do their motivations and actions seem believable?
  • Do supporting characters add to or distract from the story? Were there any needless characters?
  • Are the characters shaping the story, or is the story shaping the characters?
  • Are the characters personalities and actions consistent?
  • Is the dialogue well written? Was it believable and consistent?
  • Does the dialogue enhance the characterisation?
  • Who was my favourite/least favourite character and why?
Consistency/Pacing
  • Is the tone consistent and appropriate?
  • Does the story flow? Were there any points where it seemed rushed or dragged?
  • Are any points too expositional?
  • Are the chapter breaks in the right places? Do they leave me wanting to read more?
  • Are the chapter breaks repetitive, like a character falling asleep and waking up, or getting knocked unconscious?
  • Are there any subplots that I felt detracted from the main story?
  • Are there any chapters or events which seemed out of place or unnecessary?
Overall
  • Were there any plot holes or plot threads left unresolved?
  • Were there any aspects of the novel that felt underdeveloped? Was there anything that you wanted to know more about?
  • Did the main character change from the beginning of the book to the end? Is their journey satisfying? Do you feel they deserve to be where they end up?
  • Is there anything missing from the novel? 
  • Would I buy this book from the finished manuscript? If not, why not?
This list isn't exhaustive, but hopefully will give you a good idea if I can provide what you're looking for. Of course, if there's anything specific you'd like me to focus on, just let me know and I'm happy to accomodate any requests.

What don't you get?
Proofreading
I will note any typos and errors in punctuation and grammar that I spot, but please don't rely on me to do so! Proofreading is a very different beast to beta reading and I for one cannot do both at once. I focus on the story only.

Research
I'll give you my thoughts on your story as it reads, but if it features historical events, cultural influences etc, I won't do research to see if these are correct. I recently beta read a YA fantasy novel that used a lot of Cornish mythology and language, so my feedback focused on how this worked within the story and helped with world building etc. I didn't get a Cornish to English dictionary to see if the words were used correctly (I am actually Cornish, but most of us don't speak the language!) or research if the particular castle being referenced existed.

What I like to read
YA
NA
Paranormal
Romance (I don't mind reading erotica, just let me know what I'm in for!)
Contemporary
Chick-lit

What I won't read
Non-fiction
Crime

What does it cost?
Up to 50,000 words: $30
50,000 - 100,000 words: $50
100,000 - 150,000 words: $100
Over 150,000 words: I've never been asked to beta read anything over 150k before, but there's a first time for everything. Get in touch and we can work something out.

I'll provide you with a free analysis of the first chapter (plus prologue if there is one) for free so you can see if my beta reading service would be suitable for you.

Drop me an e-mail at mikayla-gray@hotmail.com with a synopsis of your novel, the word count and any deadlines you're working towards and I'll get back to your ASAP.

Testimonials

I can say without hesitation that Mikayla was my most valuable beta reader on both of the books she has beta read for me. She provided thorough, detailed feedback from the big picture down to the scene by scene level. Her in depth understanding of story structure, pacing, character arc, theme, and dialogue were evident in her suggestions and made her feedback even more useful. Plus, she manages to objectively tell you all the things wrong with your story while still being sweet and supportive! If you are lucky enough to snag her as a beta reader, you won't be disappointed!
- Claire Luana

I gave my MS to Mikayla to beta read in mid 2016. At the time I sent it, I was rather happy with where the story was, but needed another set of eyes on it. Mikayla was able to point out several weak spots in my narrative, as well as which characters were in need of more personality. She had praise for the story's strong points, but also did not shy away from constructive critique of places in the story where improvement was needed. I found her feedback invaluable to bring the MS up to a polished and finished state. I'm writing the sequel to my first novel now, and plan to send it off to Mikayla once it's ready.
- Cory Farris

I had hired three beta readers for my manuscript and was pretty discouraged when I received little-to-no constructive criticism. (To this day, I’m not sure that one of the betas actually read the manuscript.) Mikayla, on the other hand, provided in-depth feedback on each chapter along with comments, questions and thoughts throughout the manuscript. She highlighted lines she loved, questioned things that she didn’t understand and called out things that she didn’t like – both as a reader and about inner monologues and dialogue that were out of character. Mikayla’s feedback was timely, incredibly constructive, and exactly what I needed. She comes highly recommended!
- Erin LeJeune
 


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