I’m Searching for a First Reader

Hey Folks,

I’m taking “applications” for first readers, for my current work in progress (WIP) and in general. If you’re interested,  email me directly at harveystanbrough@gmail.com. But first, you might want to read the rest of this post. (grin)

Being a first reader is yet another way you could support this blog and get to read some great stories to boot.

What I Write

I write war/action-adventure, black-ops stuff, crime stuff, detective stuff, SFF (science fiction/fantasy) and a few other genres. including magic realism and period westerns. These days I write mostly novels in the 35,000 to 60,000 word range.

Though my novels often contain a romance element, they are not in the Romance genre, either contemporary or bosom-heaving Regency. I also don’t write anything I would call Young Adult or Chick Lit. I have nothing against any of those. They just aren’t what I write.

If you like getting deep into the mind of the main characters, you’re in luck. My novels tend always to contain some psychological suspense.

If you enjoy feeling like you’re in the story with the character, you’re in luck that way too. My stories always contain vivid descriptions of the various settings.

So that’s what I write.

If you find any of those of interest or if you’d like to try one, read on to see what I require from a first reader. It isn’t much, really, and of course, there are benefits attached.

So here’s the brief version of what a first reader does:

All it takes to be a good first reader is to read for pleasure, as if you aren’t supposed to give any feedback.

You aren’t a teacher reading an assignment. You’re a reader, reading for enjoyment.

You aren’t editing or proofreading. You’re just reading a story.

If you’re unable to read for the pure pleasure of reading a story—if you go into a story “looking” for things to ding—you’ll make a lousy first reader but possibly a good proofreader.

See the difference?

That’s really all there is to it. Just read for pleasure and note anything that leaps out at you (like you always do when you read). Then tell the author instead of keeping it to yourself.

If you’re still interested, read on for the specifics.

Here’s what I need from a first reader:

▪ Read for pleasure, period. You’re a first reader, not a first critiquer. Read as a reader. Expect to enjoy the story.

▪ If necessary, read the story twice: once strictly for pleasure, and the second time to point out where I went “wrong.” (If you can do both at once, that’s fine too.)

▪ If, as you’re reading for pleasure, you get bored with the story and no longer want to read it, that’s fine. Stop reading, but let me know where that happened and why (if you know).

▪ If, as you’re reading for pleasure, some inconsistency or inanity (or anything else) flat jerks you out of the story, tell me that, and tell me where. (Page numbers don’t help. Quote a few words from the passage and tell me what caused your confusion.)

▪ If, as you’re reading for pleasure, an inconsistency leaps off the page at you (e.g., the character’s eyes were blue in an earlier chapter and now they’re brown; the morning is cool, but later in the same scene it’s dark outside and/or hot; the character’s clothing suddenly changes without him or her actually changing clothes) again quote a few words where that happened and tell me what the inconsistency is.

▪ Don’t try to spare my feelings. Just tell me the truth.

▪ One of my first readers doesn’t take separate notes. She highlights the questionable passage in a striking color (blue or green or red is best, but avoid yellow please), maybe makes a note directly in the manuscript, and sends it back to me. If you’d rather not take notes separately, that’s a fine way to do it.

▪ Of course, note any misspellings or wrong word usages (waist for waste, a weapons cachet instead of a weapons cache, etc.).

Then ship it back to me as soon as you can. I will be endlessly grateful.

In fact, in addition to the direct benefits to you (see below), I’ll give you pretty much anything you want for this valuable service: free books, publicity, and even assistance with writing things that give you trouble, eformatting, cover design advice, etc.

Before I list the direct benefits, here’s what I don’t want from a first reader:

▪ Please don’t tell me how you would have written the story. Save that for peer critique groups.

▪ Please don’t suspect or criticize what you assume are my political or religious beliefs. More than likely, what you read in the book are the character’s beliefs, not mine.

▪ Please don’t criticize any “bad” language, unless you see it as gratuitous and unnecessary to the tension of the scene. In that case, you can mention it, but don’t wear out the topic. Again, it’s probably in dialogue and therefore belongs to the character, not to me personally.

▪ Please don’t give me lessons in grammar and sentence construction. For example, I don’t want a discussion about how many times I used “that” vs. “which.” (They aren’t interchangeable.)

▪ Please don’t tell me not to begin a sentence with And or But (unless it’s done so often that it disrupts your reading). It’s called a sentence fragment, and it happens often in great fiction, in both dialogue and narrative.

So what direct and immediate benefits do you get as my first reader? These:

▪ You get to read the book second only to me reading it as I write it;
▪ You are mentioned in the credits (along with your website if you have one); and
▪ You get a clean copy of the book plus any other already-published book of your choice.

So let me know. You can email me directly at harveystanbrough@gmail.com.

Happy reading and writing!


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