Tag Archives: beta readers

Preface Released to Beta Readers

After a flurry of last minute activity, the preface has gone out to the eight brave beta readers last Friday. It’s a bit of a milestone as now, for the first time *drum roll* Paying Melpomene’s Price has GONE PUBLIC! If you haven’t received it yet, the spam filter might have put it into junk mail. Well…it might be junk but I’d rather the beta readers tell me than the spam filter!

Here’s the little blurb that went out with it. Thanks to MR and MA for ideas and suggestions on putting the blurb together:

Brave Beta Readers,
This is it! The preface of Paying Melpomene’s Price is attached. Two identical versions: a Microsoft Word document and a PDF. You can either comment right on the Word document (use a big font or colour) or markup the PDF with Adobe Acrobat. Alternately, you can comment in return email by citing page and paragraph (e.g. page 2, the paragraph that starts with ‘Two and a half…’). I can also deliver hard copies to those wanting to go that route! All sorts of options, use the easiest!
This is what I’m looking for: 1) parts you like (I should do more of this), 2) parts you don’t like (I should do less of it), 3) parts you understand (I should do more of this), and 4) parts that are difficult to understand (I should rewrite). Here’s a set of symbols:
Parts you like, put a checkmark
Parts you don’t like, put a frown
Parts you understand, write a capital U
Parts that are hard to understand, write a ?
Don’t worry about grammar and spelling. Those things will be caught down the line. Go with initial reactions. Right now, I’m most concerned with people’s reactions: what they like and what they don’t like. Don’t worry about offending me! Now’s the time that honesty is appreciated. Better to fix things now than later! There’s eight beta readers, so it’ll be interesting to see if some kind of consensus forms. I’m betting it will.
No rush. If things get busy, wait for the next instalment to come out (one per month, eight more sections). BIG thanks to everyone for participating!
Edwin Wong
Writer – Doing Melpomene’s Work

It’ll be interesting to see if a consensus forms between the eight beta readers. Will they like/dislike the same things? It’s a diverse crowd of beta readers: artists, graphic designers, a doctor, a restauranteur, an academic coordinator, and some self-employed business people. No one (as far as I can tell) with a professional theatre background. That might be a good thing. One person moonlights as a bona fide editor (has edited articles for Science and Nature). Ages range from thirties to sixties. Three women and a five men. A good mix.

The preface is eight pages long. Before rewriting, it was ten pages long. Another page or two can probably get deleted somewhere down the line. But it’s as good as I can get it right now. After sending it out, I was curious: how long would it take to read eight pages? I timed myself reading it in 17 minutes. But that’s sort of cheating as I’m reading my own thoughts. For other people to read it maybe it would take 25-30 minutes? If you’re making notes on the page as you go along, that might add another fifteen minutes. So maybe 45 minutes or so?

Another things: Microsoft Word pages (and PDFs made from Word) are longer than book pages. I counted up how many words there are in several softcover academic type works and compared them with the word count in the preface. Word counts in books vary according to spacing, font, and page size. But it seems like you can convert Microsoft Word pages into average book pages by dividing by 0.6. So, eight pages of the preface in Word = 13.33 book pages (8 / 0.6 = 13.33).

Until next time, I’m Edwin Wong and I’m glad there are brave beta readers out there Doing Melpomene’s Work.

Get Your Free Copy of Paying Melpomene’s Price

Wanted: Beta Readers

Any beta readers out there? For your time and helpful suggestions, you will receive a signed copy of Paying Melpomene’s Price: Tragedy and the Risk Theatre. What is more, beta readers will be individually acknowledged in the published version: I realize your time is valuable. C’mon, give it a go and take part in this happy and worthy cause!

As assiduous readers will recall, the first draft of Paying Melpomene’s Price is complete. The internal process of rewriting and editing started in early August. I am looking for some much needed feedback as I rewrite and edit before sending the manuscript out to the copy editors, structural editors, proofreaders, etc., next year. You see, the ideas in Paying Melpomene’s Price have been with me so long that they just make sense. I’m convinced. But convincing me is like preaching to the choir. I’m reaching out for different perspectives.

What’s Involved for Beta Readers

There’s a preface and eight chapters. Each chapter is about 15 pages. At the rate I’m going, I’m editing/rewriting a chapter a month. This is what I’m thinking: each month I’ll release a chapter. To do a cursory read and make some notes takes roughly two hours. To write out the notes in an email takes another couple of hours (some may be faster). So its a half a day per month for nine months, give or take.

The nice thing is, the heavy lifting of fact checking, close reading, and proofreading will be done at a later stage. Right now, the thing that interests me the most is whether things make sense. These are the sorts of questions I have for beta readers: where is the text clear? Where is it unclear? What are some of the things I do well (because I need to do more of it!). What are some of the things you wish I did less of?

Beta Reader Qualifications

The book is on literary theory and theatre. But this doesn’t mean that beta readers have to be experts in these fields (though experts are welcome!). In some ways, it even helps out more when beta readers approach the text from a nonspecialist perspective: I want the arguments to appeal to broad segments of the population. I want it to be accessible to students, academics, dramatists, literary theorists, and people just interested in theatre or literary theory. I believe it’s possible to write something simple and broadly appealing at the same time. That’s where the feedback from beta readers is invaluable. Is it something you would enjoy reading (if you were not beta reading)?

So, there are no qualifications for beta readers! If you want to contribute to the idea of tragedy as the risk theatre or just to be a beta reader, give it a whirl!

Back Blurb for Paying Melpomene’s Price

The back blurb is an ongoing composition. Here it is as it stands right now. It’ll give you an idea of whether Paying Melpomene’s Price is something you want to beta read:


Tragedy is a high stakes game where gamblers stake the milk of human kindness for a crown (Macbeth), the immortal soul for mortal glory (Dr. Faustus), or happiness for distinction (The Master Builder). By playing the game, heroes expose themselves to risk: a dead man’s hand or a queen of spades lurks in the cards. This is the idea of the risk theatre.

Paying Melpomene’s Price is about the risk theatre. The risk theatre sells heroes its benefits at a dear cost. Oedipus saves Thebes, but pays the price in doing so. Because relief is purchased by exile, love is purchased by blood, and power comes at the cost of the soul, tragedy is a valuing mechanism. It assigns a tangible value to intangible human qualities: the milk of human kindness may be exchanged for a crown. In an increasingly monetized world, tragedy restores value to humanity because its transactions are not measured in dollars and cents, but blood, sweat, and tears.

This book is written for students of tragic art theory looking for a philosophy of tragedy that celebrates the innate value of life. It is also written with dramatists in mind: in these pages is a neoclassical working model of drama. With its template, the dramatist can bring the idea of risk theatre to the stage. It is also written for those dismayed in the monetization of all things: the risk theatre puts the human back in humanity.

Until next time, I’m Edwin Wong and today I’m looking for beta readers interested in Doing Melpomene’s Work.