Manuscript swaping seems like a bad idea tbh, to much potential for drama
I feel the ideal way to get beta readers is to look for people who like reading, but don't actually write anything themselves.
that people are quite friendly despite running the same race
mostly working as a team to build eachother up
that's just my expience though, time to have a cup
Non-writers make lousy beta readers unless they happen to have editing experience. A non-writer might notice there's something wrong or confusing with a particular scene, but they are unlikely to have the experience that would help them figure out what exactly the problem is. Don't know if you've heard the phrase "read like a writer" but that's what you want beta readers yo be able to do.
A third point is that the practice of trading editing with another writer exists because writer typically can't afford to hire professional editors. What do you have that you can use to recompense non-writer beta readers? If you are relying on volunteers you will likely need to recruit a new one every 5 chapters or so because they will get bored/busy.
- they are not timely in returning the work (months can pass)
- they do not give nearly as many comments as I do (I'm an editor, so I don't expect the same edits I give, but I do expect more than one comment ever 25k words)
- people become hostile whenever they come across any hint of opinion contrary to their own
When this emotional conflict happens, the writer you're working with (or beta) may suddenly get turned off the effort entirely. I've exchanged sections and started out getting good feedback on early sections, then when they came across something they disagreed with, future sections had almost no comments, like they were only forcing themselves to go through the exchange process without actually doing the work. Or they will leave nasty comments.
Get to know an exchange partner well first, then exchange. Make sure you're either both on the same page about what you're each writing about, or make sure that you're both professional and committed and that you'll do the job regardless of your personal beliefs. Knowing each other in the real world is perhaps best-case.
This is easier said than done, of course. Finding other people and getting to know the real them and how well they work is tough. If you do find someone, do everything to hold onto them.
Timothy Wrote: For example, in one story my character mentioned how gross smoking was. A couple of beta readers got up in arms and said I shouldn't say stuff like that. Any comments about politics, religion, gender and just about anything else can really set people off, even if they're supposed to be from a character's POV, and not representative of the author.
Welcome to the age of snowflakes. This is what happens when you have a generation of spoiled brats grow up. I've often wondered if this is all by design and the ruling classes have intentionally progammed people to be this way, to discourage writers from saying anything 'too interesting'.
Tbh the modern state of the west has destroyed my faith in humanity. Sentient primates were a mistake.