I have mentioned Netgalley and Beta reading a few times in this book blog and I wanted to let folks know about a very neat way to read new books for free, (and help new authors become better writers).
Netgalley is an e-galley clearinghouse for publishers looking for readers with blogs or a good history of writing reviews on Amazon.com or Goodreads. You must sign up, and if you are interested I encourage anyone (teen or adult) to create an account and try to get on some book lists. Galley books are books not quite ready for publishing – so there are sometimes proofing errors – but the publisher wants to get an idea of how well a book reads, or might do in a certain market. Some independent publishers have “open to anyone” books, but to read most books you need to request and wait to see if a publisher will grant you permission to read. Netgalley has a lot of blogs on how to write a good review, and how to improve your chances of getting approved. All the publishers ask in return is for you to write an honest review of your book.
PLEASE NOTE there are restrictions on some book reviews, like when they can be written (usually no earlier than a month before publishing) and if you don’t submit reviews back to the publisher you won’t get invited to read more. I have found some terrific books for the library this way, and have read some early books from my favorite authors. check out: Netgalley.com, and join their Tumblr feed to find out more about publishing and new books.
The next thing is something known as Beta reading. If you have a great love of the craft of writing, and would like to help some writers (or want help for your own writing) this is the way to go! Sort of like Galley books for publishers, these are unsigned or independant authors looking for a detailed review of their work with an eye towards readability, plot holes, and catching grammar and spelling mistakes that have been left in after editing. So these are a step above rough drafts (an Alpha read), but are not ready for printing yet. These can be VERY Rough, and sometimes hard to read. BUT I have found an amazing book through this process (the Ugly Princess) and the author is sending the library several copies of her book. The way to get started is to join Goodreads.com look for the forum on Beta reading and follow the rules.
Expect to spend at least three times the time it takes you to read an average book and having a PDF line editing app like GoodReader (no relation to the website) helps, but most authors write in MSWord. Just be sure to turn on “Track Changes by author” so your notes show up in a different color to the author. Then you need a detailed list of what you are looking for (some authors have their own questionnaire). I usually submit an annotated PDF with summary of notes, and a two to three page write up of what I thought worked, and did not. Keep in mind that you never criticize an author, and if you say you will read their work, you need to follow through, or at least tell the author Why you could not finish the book.
So Get Reading!
GoodReader is a hugely powerful app, but it does need an iPad to use (I don’t know if there is a Kindle or Google version of it), but there are a lot of PDF editor apps out there. I am not endorsing the purchase of any software, just letting you know what I use. ^_^