There are a number of roles a true fan can take on for a favorite author beyond just sharing word of mouth. In case you’re interested, I’m always looking for new folks in these areas. If any appeal to you, email me at sandrahutchison (at) sheerhubris.com. (If you get my newsletter, you can just reply back to it. And there’s a contact form just to the right of this if you’re on a computer.)
1. Beta reader
A beta reader reads drafts before they are published or even formatted and provides detailed, specific feedback about what is working, not working, confusing, puzzling, wrong, unsatisfying, insensitive, etc. Ideally this is done right in the Word or Google doc as comments on the problematic text. It might be sentence level if you’re really into that, or it might be broader issues with a character or plot development or lack thereof. It’s definitely NOT just a short sentence back, i.e. “I loved it!”
If you’re a new beta reader, I’ll send you a chunk of chapters to see what kind of feedback you might have for me before you get the whole thing. (I may also have some specific questions for you.) The reality is that some people who start out as fans just want to keep reading and never get around to making any useful points about it. And that’s okay, but I’d rather you just, you know, buy the book. Turnaround needs to be within a week or two, ideally.
Sometimes beta readers are fellow authors, in which case we tend to trade off helping each other with this stuff, or in other ways.
This is someone who loves to nitpick grammar, spelling, continuity, and format. I already have a couple of excellent proofreaders who are also good at noticing continuity errors and so on, but I’d be willing to give you a shot at it if this is something you think you’d really like to do. Proofreaders get chapters that are already formatted, since formatting itself can introduce errors. Turnaround on this is also hopefully within a week or two.
3. ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) readers
This is for early readers who will commit to reading and giving an honest review in a place or places where it can help sell books (and while a review doesn’t have to be long, it should not just be a star rating — that’s NOT a review). I’ll give new ARC readers a shot or two at this if they can point me to where they’ve reviewed other books, not necessarily mine. Obviously, you’ll soon be off the list if you take free books and don’t review. Turnaround varies, but if you get it before publication, the assumption is that you will review before or very soon after publication, since the whole point of giving away these free books is to get reviews in place to assist in sales.
It’s always a good idea to add a disclaimer that you read a free copy provided by the publisher. If we are personal friends or fellow authors, you should probably disclose that relationship. (Otherwise you risk losing your reviewing privileges from Amazon, at least. Goodreads and Bookbub don’t appear to care.)
Stuff I don’t do, so please don’t ask
I will never “trade reviews” with other authors because I’ve learned the hard way that it places an obligation on you to finish and review books that you may not like and couldn’t honestly recommend. I will consider doing blurbs and asking for blurbs, and will often happily share other authors’ publishing news to my audience. (As you may notice when reading these, blurbs can be quite positive without ever suggesting that the blurb author in fact finished and enjoyed the book in question.)