How to Manage Your Beta Readers

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How to Manage Your Beta Readers
with Evan Gow

It’s not just finding beta readers it’s managing the process to get value for you and to make it easy for them.Evan Gow from Story Origin shows us a new service and process to run a beta reading team. Learn why this is important for an author then how this process reduces the pain and overwhelm that typically comes with getting comments from readers and turning that into an improved manuscript.


[00:00:00] Joseph: Hey everybody. It’s Joe Solari. And this is the business of writing where we help authors build great publishing businesses. We’re welcoming back Evan gal from story origin. This is what your, at least your third time on here.

[00:00:26] Evan: I think my third time on. Yeah. Well, I love having you on well,

[00:00:33] Joseph: you know, here’s the thing is, is like, why do we have people come back on is because you got.

Are constantly updating your product and creating new, cool stuff that people need to know about. And if we can help to get some authors up that learning curve a little bit faster, then our job here is done. So like that’s, that’s what we’re going to talk about today is some pretty interesting stuff that you’ve shown me that you’re doing to make maybe one of the most important things an author can do.

A lot easier and more effective. So why don’t you start out just telling us a little bit about you and the company. And then, I mean, this is going to quickly roll into, I guess, a product demo. Like here’s how the new stuff works, but like, at least for anybody that’s new to meeting you, who are you, what

[00:01:22] Evan: is your product?

Yeah. So so if you’re not familiar with me, my name is Evan. I’m the founder of story origin, which is a marketing tool and a community of authors working together to. Build your mailing lists increase your sales and help you find more reviewers. And most recently now what we’ll talk about today is helping you collect feedback from beta readers and find beta readers because it’s an incredibly important part of the process as an author and the way that most authors do it.

Now, it is a huge pain both between. The management timing just, you know, the whole process can, can really become a dredge for a lot of authors. So story origin, I’m rolling out a new feature to, to help streamline all of that.

[00:02:14] Joseph: That’s great. And I think that, you know, from what I’ve seen from clients and people that are doing this while.

There is some, some stuff to kind of help her to cats. It is always going to be kind of a cat herding process. So anything that can make it move a little bit smoother, it’s going to be a huge help to product quality and you know, the other, I think the other thing too is forgetting about. You know, having a good beta reader is such a precious resource.

Anything you can do to make their experience easier is going to get them to be pushing your books up their list to beta read. I mean, some of these guys that’s like a full-time job,

[00:02:58] Evan: right? Yeah. For sure. Yeah. And I mean, for, for a lot of authors, they’re wondering, you know, I’ve got this mailing list of people you know, you might build your mailing list through story origin or you’ve, you know, you’ve just organically grown your mailing list.

How can I actually utilize that mailing list that I’ve built other than to just like, say, Hey, here’s my new release. Like go buy it. One of the really valuable things that you can do with that mailing list is to find people who are going to be your champions who might be beta readers for you.

So yeah, I think, I think it’s, it’s, it’s part of the process that could definitely use use a lot of others could use some help.

[00:03:41] Joseph: Sure. So why don’t, why don’t we just kind of dive into it. People don’t want to listen to us. You have moron, like yeah, go right into kind of showing what we’re talking about here, because I think it’ll make the conversation easier for

[00:03:52] Evan: everybody.

Yeah, let’s jump right in. So I’m here on my author dashboard. I’ve already gone ahead and gone to the beta copies tab on story origin. And here you can find, you know, you can find the description of what the feature is just in case, you know, if you’re, if you’re not taking notes it’s always easy to go.

The little description botch hit, hit the video tutorial, or go to the guide about it on story origin. I’m going to just jump right into going ahead and creating a beta copy. I’m going to actually go ahead and. Make one real quick here. Oops, I did that poorly. I’ve got a little blurb here. We’ll use great Gatsby just to show how easy this is.

I’ll add some tags at a chapter. Say how many books have you read in this genre? I’m going to set a default reader, access date expiration date for readers, and I’ll just leave the critique guidance blank for now. It could add, I’m going to go ahead and bulk upload my document. So I’ve already got my manuscript.

I’m just going to select my doc X file here, upload it. And then I’ll scroll to the bottom here and hit create. That will automatically upload all my chapters. And so now all my content is load into story origin, ready to go. I’ll go back over to my beta copies tab. So this is the one that we just created here.

And then this is what it looks like from the reader’s perspective. So. Once you upload that beta copy, you get that landing page. You can, you can get your, your share link there. And then this is the link that you can send out to your newsletter. You can share it in Facebook groups or subreddits, or just across social media, wherever you want to try and find beta readers and story origin can help you collect those requests.

So a reader can hit request review, copy up. This is, this is not the one that I just created. That was the one that. Let’s see, this is the one I just created. So we’ll go ahead and do this here. They would hit request, review, copy. They would see here’s the application message. You know, how many books have you read in this genre?

Let’s say I’ve said 20 books and they understand it’s beta copy. They’re going to read through and leave feedback. They’d hit request, and then they would go to their reviewer dashboard. So this is the I’m going to go ahead and. Actually now delete, just cause I just want to show what the application process looks like from the rear side.

So this great Gatsby one we’ve already gotten, we’ve already gotten a reader, right? This is already approved. This was when I had gone through before. So, so we’ve got this reader here and they can go to their reviewer dashboard, hit the. Go to any chapter, let’s say we’re just reading chapter one. They can leave comments, highlights, say, this is a comment.

Oh, spelling, terribly livestream. It’s fine. They can go back to the table of contents and that you see that as they, as they go through the book, they unlock chapters by leaving feedback on the previous chapter. And yeah, so at the end of each chapter, they can leave those inline comments as they’re going through it.

But at the end of each chapter, they can also go ahead and leave a end of chapter feedback. So they would submit what they thought of the chapter, how eager they are that read the next one, and then they would leave their overall feedback. And then they could go on to the next chapter. And what we can see here, actually, we’ve got a questionnaire embedded.

So after they’ve read through the first four chapters, they’d have to respond to this questionnaire I inserted and then they could go on to chapter five.

[00:07:52] Joseph: So in, in this whole process, one thing you kind of built in is that they can’t just read the book, right? This isn’t like some people might come into this and they’re like, oh, well, I I’m not into doing all this work.

That’s actually a good thing to figure out early on that this isn’t really a beta reader. This is somebody that’s just looking to get free fiction,

[00:08:21] Evan: right? Yeah. So, you know, if you’ve, if you’ve just been sending out manuscripts to beta readers, just like sending them a word file or sending them a link to a Google doc you don’t really have any control over.

If they just go ahead and read the whole book and then they say, oh yeah, it was great. And you go, well, that’s not, you know, I’m looking for a little bit more feedback than just, that was great. Right? So, so by having that process where they leave feedback on each individual chapter you really are going to get much more detailed comments back about, you know, what they thought of the characters or setting or arcs that are going on.

[00:08:59] Joseph: Cool. So one of the things that just came to my mind when I look at this as like, if I’m an early author, I’m trying to build my my, my community and specifically a good beta reading team, right? Like if I can get 10 people that are really committed to that, read this genre and you’re committed to me, that’s a powerful asset.

I’m seeing that there’s an opportunity here to get. Train their behavior by saying like, I could gamify this, like, Hey, I’m gonna you know, do give you a gift card for the first person that’s done with this book. Or I’m going to give an award for person who has the most comments, stuff like that, that can elicit the right behavior.

Because now I can at least see that before.

[00:09:51] Evan: Right. Yeah, you can, you could certainly gamify it. That would, I mean, providing an incentives to readers, to, to do a good job and to go through it quickly is something that is, is really valuable. I mean, if you’re, if you’re just giving beta readers out or giving beta copies out to readers and asking for their feedback for free You know, that’s a, that’s a big time commitment for a lot of readers and even something as simple as, Hey, if you beta read for me, I’m going to include you in the acknowledgements of my book.

And like, you’re going to be your name’s going to be published in a book like, you know, me acknowledging you like, even something as simple as that, I would, you know, I, as a reader would be absolutely thrilled. If I could be in the acknowledged set section of some of my favorite authors. Rewarding to me,

[00:10:41] Joseph: you just made me like, Hey, by the way, how I’m going to list the acknowledgements.

And this is those that complete this thing. And in the order that they complete the work. Yeah. Right. And you’d have to set some criteria. Right. You don’t want the guy just to go through it real quick and slamming, you know, crappy comments, but yeah. There were just from the little bit you’ve shown me already.

I can see how you could make this fun and exciting and different for those that are interested in doing battery.

[00:11:15] Evan: Yeah. Yeah. And, and one, one thing we haven’t mentioned here, but one thing that is important about this is that when you when readers are leaving their feed, On your beta copy on story origin, they can only see their comments and feedback.

So they can’t see other, other beta readers feedback or comments. Right? This is one of the things where like, you know, if, if you as an author, you’re doing this without story origin, you’re just sending out like word files or links to Google docs. You need to have every reader have their own separate file, which makes it really difficult to collate the feedback from the author or from the.

Because all this comments and responses are living in their own separate documents with story origin readers, leave their feedback and can only see their own feedback. But you, as the author can see everyone’s feedback. So it’s, it’s really simplifies a huge portion of that process, which is like trying to make sure that.

Your readers are leaving you unbiased feedback, because if they could see each other’s comments and feedback, then, then they’re going to be biased by what they see from other readers. Yeah,

[00:12:24] Joseph: for sure. For sure. I didn’t mean to interrupt. We want to just, you want to keep moving along here and a lot of features here.

Do you want to show

[00:12:33] Evan: let’s jump back into it? So, so here’s this reader. I can see how long how far into the book they’ve progressed so I can keep tracking. How far each reader is and progressing through my beta copy. So if I want to email one and say, Hey, you know, just reminder like I’m looking for feedback back by such and such date.

They will have that on hand. The, the other thing is with story origin, you have complete control over who has access to your beta. And how long they have access for. So we saw that page where a reader can apply for access. And then you, as an author, can individually approve or decline access for applicants.

So only people that you approved can actually read the beta copy and then once they get access to the beta copy. You can also turn off their access at any time. So if I wanted to disable this readers access, I would just hit disable access. And then they, they can’t read the book. And then this is, this is the date and the time that they, you know, their access, what expired.

I can also reenable it. If I re enable it, there’s no access expiration date. Read it for however long they want, but I could also go back and I could set a new access expiration date. So I’ll just set it back November 1st again. This is also like a good way to incentivize your readers to complete it by a second certain date, because when they’re over here on their reviewer profile or on their.

Copies dashboard. They see when their access expires, so they know, oh, okay. I’ve got to read this by such and such date. Otherwise I’m not going to be able to keep reading the book. So having, having a hard deadline for them can be a variable, but very valuable for you as an author. But again, like if you need to, you can always on a reader on a per reader basis set different access expiration dates.

So if someone says, oh, Hey, I got sick. That’s such and such happened. I needed like a couple more days, so you could go in and you could give them that couple more days just individually. So, so yeah, that is, that is that side of it. Going to the, I’m going to actually looking at the feedback from the beta.

So when we go to our responses section also go here from my beta copies dashboard. So from my beta copies dashboard, the other way to go here is just to click the view under the responses column. You can look at that feedback. You have lots of filtering mechanisms, so you can’t do this when you’ve got like feedback across, you know, 10 different documents or 20 different documents.

But with storage and since you’ve got on one place, you can, you can look at feedback just on like here’s section one, version one. Here’s just the feedback on that. If I want to see, you know, feedback from all my 10 or 20 beta readers, just on section one, version one, I could look at just that. Or if I want to look at a single reader’s feedback across every chapter, I could also sort by just filter down to a specific reader.

And then if I want to filter by like specific feedback on specific things, like maybe I want to look at. What’s feedback on the characters. I can search for that key word. And here’s all the feedback that mentioned characters. So you don’t really get that kind of thing when you are, when you’re just like, you know, it’s all, it’s all siloed.

And then you also can set different statuses. Initially, all of your feedback is going to be unread, but you can mark it as read and consider is still considering. Or this is a to-do. If this is something I know I want to make a change in my manuscript for, or just like mark it as resolved. So you could go through, you could read all your unread comments, right?

You could, what we could do is we could go through our unread comments, mark them, mark them as either to do’s or not. And then once we’ve got all of our feedback that we’ve marked as to do’s, we could filter by all our, to do’s and then we could just go through each chapter, each version and get that feedback incorporated into our manuscript.

[00:16:42] Joseph: Cool. Cool. Now I see there there’s this upvote and downvote what does that do for the comments?

[00:16:49] Evan: So, so this upvote and downvote, if you, if you really like feedback from a beta reader, you could upload. And then that’s displayed on their beta reader profiles. So when a reader applies for access to your beta copy you can see when they apply you can see that a number of wards that they’ve left as critiques against the number of words that they are critiquing.

So you can see like a ratio of like, what, you know, does this person have really in-depth critiques or. And then you can also see the ratio of the number of responses that they’ve had that were upvoted versus downloaded. So if a reader leaves really great feedback for you, like give them an up vote.

And then when other authors are seeing that they applied for their beta. Or when you’re looking at beta readers that are coming to you that have gotten up boats, you can see, oh, okay. This person has gotten a lot of up votes. They must leave really good feedback. Alternatively, like if they don’t leave constructive criticism and it’s just sort of harsh, harsh without any real actionable items, you can just, downvote their comments.

You or other authors can see like this beta readers applications when they’re, they’re trying to get authorized for those copies, like, is this someone that I actually want to approve for a copy?

[00:18:05] Joseph: And I think that’s one of the great features that you’ve built into previous things like the reviewer piece, where.

There’s over, you know, this doesn’t happen instantaneously, but over time there becomes this social proof as to who are the good and who are the bad reviewers or beta readers that you’re going to want to work with. And it helps, I think, you know, get some good behavior out of the community on both sides.

Right. Because there is that transparent.

[00:18:37] Evan: Yeah. Yeah. So that transparency is definitely really valuable both for, for authors and readers. Right. And that’s the sort of thing when you’re doing this by yourself, you’re not going to be able to, you’re not going to be able to know when someone’s like applying for a review copy, or if you’re arranging newsletter swaps, or you’re doing group promos.

If you’re doing this all. Through your own website or through, you know, Google forms or something like that, you don’t really have that community knowledge. Right? So story origin has that sort of, when you, when you’re doing stuff on story origin, you’re not just bringing your own personal experiences.

You’re bringing, you know, the wealth of knowledge that has been built up by the community as a whole to, in having access to all the statistics and things.

[00:19:27] Joseph: Cool. All right. So now we’ve got they’ve gone through our thing. We’ve got some comments we’ve maybe had, like you said, there’s these questionnaires that you can put in there to give me an example where you’re seeing authors use those questionnaires.

[00:19:43] Evan: So those questionnaires are really valuable. Like if you, like, let’s say. You know, we’ll go here to my contents and comments. Right. I can, what I can do is I can insert a questionnaire. What I would do as just hit the sad questionnaire button, put in whatever I want and then slot it in. Like here I have slotted in after chapter four.

And so I can, so I can, you know, a reader can leave feedback on just like, here’s what I thought of chapter one. Here’s what I thought. Chapter two here. What, here’s what I thought, chapter three, by having those questionnaires. Embedded between chapters allows me to get a longer view of. Okay. What didn’t you, what did you think of sort of act one as a whole?

Was there, was there any sort of, you know, let’s say I want to, what I’m really trying to do in chapter in chapters, one through four, it’s really developed this character. Senses in a certain way. I can ask for specific feedback, like, did you, did you see that happening as a reader? Was I being too subtle about it?

Because a lot of times I think. As an author, you, you, you understand all of your characters motivations because you’re, you’re writing this story. Right. And you’ve thought about all of this, the ton, right. And you’re like, okay, I’m going to include this line here. And it’s going to, you know, it’s going to sort of evoke this certain perception by the reader that this is changing or here’s what’s happening.

And then like, it goes over every reader’s head and you don’t even realize it. That like that you’re trying to do this thing and readers aren’t necessarily picking up on it. And so making sure that you’re giving, you’re getting your point across because it’s really easy to be too subtle sometimes.

So, so there’s stuff like that is where we’re having those questionnaires around what’s happening over sort of the longer term parts of the, the story can be incredibly valuable. But, you know, a reader has to answer the questionnaires the same way as like they have to answer. They have to go and leave feedback on each chapter to read the next one.

So it’s really valuable way to you could, you could, you could do this for you know, other sort of gamification purposes or collecting other info just sort of throughout the book. Right? As like things that they would have to answer in order to keep reading through the rest.

[00:22:01] Joseph: Yeah. Yeah, no, I think that’s, that’s really cool how that set up.

So what, what else should authors know about this? I mean, we’ve kind of gone through the mechanics of getting it set up, but how are you? Have you gotten some guidance for authors that are going to start adopting this tool? Like how they can get the most out of it? Things that you’ve heard from your existing customers that are that the community should know about?

[00:22:24] Evan: Yeah. I mean, definitely the feedback from the community has been really good so far with this feature. You’re getting a lot of it’s it’s still certainly early days, but like, you know, one author they were, they, they did two separate newsletters, one both asking for beta readers. One was a, Hey, I’m looking for beta readers for this new book I have coming out like who wants to, who wants to come and read it?

And then the other email that they did to their subscribers was a, you know funny. And self-deprecating sort of like, I’m, you know, I’m, I, I’m doing really poorly here. Need, need feedback and whatever. And it was, it was very funny. There’s like a lot of alliteration. I can’t even, I can’t even do it justice, but yeah, like that, that version of the ask got more people requesting access to the beta copies.

So that’s one thing is like, like also play with your messaging around like how you might request. Or, or how you might put this out there that people can request access to your beta copies, right? Because the way that you message, it could certainly could certainly increase the number of people that are going to apply for it.

And you want to get feedback from a decent amount of beta readers, right? Cause if you just get feedback from one beta reader, you don’t know, it’s not, it’s, it’s very small sample size, right? Whether or not that person is just. You know, that’s just like their opinion, which is totally different from maybe the vast majority of people.

So, you know, I would shoot, you know, you probably want to have like at least sort of 3, 4, 5 beta readers. Some, some authors have, you know, like 70 plus or a hundred plus beta readers. At that point, you might be getting too much feedback to the point that it’s hard to coalesce that into actionable sort of ways of changing, changing your manuscript and revising it.

But definitely you want, you want more than just like, you know, one or two people. The other thing to mention. A lot of authors don’t even really get feedback on revisions of their manuscript, or if they get feedback on revisions of their manuscript, they’re basically you’ve got the new manuscript and then you have to send it to a totally new set of beta readers, because it’s really difficult to get feedback from the same set of beta readers on an entire document when only like small portions of it.

With story origin, you can upload revisions of each chapter individually. And then so like on the, on the reader’s side, when they go to the table of contents, they can see what the latest version is that has been uploaded. So if I, as an author, I upload a new version, two of chapter one. They would see like a red X here instead of a green check mark, and then they would know, oh, okay.

I can go back and read chapter one and see like how they incorporated my feedback and comments and stuff. And whether or not I like this chapter more. Very interesting. Yeah. Cause you can’t like when you’re doing this through just like Google docs or, or just like sending out word files or something to people.

Yeah. Getting, getting feedback on those revisions, like extremely complicates the process around like how you’re handling your files and stuff. So the story origin makes that really, really simple if you’re just like, okay, I just upload a revision and then like, and then readers can see that, that new version of just that chapter.


[00:25:55] Joseph: really interesting. I haven’t, because there’s. I think for anybody that doesn’t have like a built up beta team understanding this isn’t something that you just go get a beta team and then you want another beta team. You want your, this is an asset you’re building for your business, right?

You want to get a good group. And like you said, you don’t want one and you don’t want a hundred. You want a solid group of people that. All bring different qualities to the review, right? Some people may be reviewing purely on a grammatical level. They’re kind of being a pass on fixing that kind of stuff.

Others are going to be focused on how things work. Like they’re, they’re experts in how weapons work, or I know for a lot of folks that write historical fiction, they have a team that’s, that’s really what they want them to come back with. To hit on the, you know, did I miss something with the history piece because that’ll knock a reader out of the story really quickly having, building that team over time, like one it’s it sucks because it takes time, right?

Like you have to keep doing this. But to have it that you build this process that they understand, right. And that you start to think through like, okay, This isn’t just a one pass deal. Like that’s very interesting what you’ve got built there in the sense of okay. If you make sure that they start to understand that what’s going to happen is, is in that window, we need to get this stuff read, then I’m going to get revisions and you get another shot to see what’s going on.

And I think that helps to make sure that the end product is good. But then from the perspective of the team, right? Like when somebody sees. That you’re responding to their commentary and adding to it. They take ownership, right? Like they’re going to be even more invested in this process. Yeah,

[00:27:57] Evan: for sure.

That’s for sure. And one thing to mention here is like story origin also automatically sends updates to your beta readers. Whenever you’ve uploaded new content, whether you’re uploading a new chapter or you’re uploading a new version of a chapter that’s already existing. So you don’t even need to go on.

Tell everyone that, Hey, you just uploaded three more chapters, like story origin does handles that for you to help you streamline your process. And again, like, this is really difficult to do for a lot of authors for, for even just a small set of words. But then I was talking with Chris Fox the other day, actually about, about story Origin’s new feature.

And he, he was saying he does 120. Pages per week that need to be beta red. And he basically, he’s not doing, he’s not he’s, he doesn’t think he’s doing as good of a job as he thinks he thinks he should be, because it is such a headache to actually manage the process. Right. Like he knows and wants to get feedback and, and really manage it.

But so time consuming and. Y it’s telling him about this new features. He’s really excited to try it out, especially given the number of words that he’s pumping out. Like it’s just, it becomes so, so, so there’s so much overhead to it. Right. So

[00:29:17] Joseph: yeah, you, you start to think about this from that person to two things on that.

There’s one is and you’ve kind of touched on this before, is.

The process gets so unwieldy, right? Like now I’ve got to, I’ve got to pull together 20, 20 Google docs and read through. And a lot of those things are going to be common comments. It just gets hard. And how do I bring that all in to a space where I can use that to be valuable information? And that’s just on one book.

Now you look to somebody that’s writing faster or writing multiple series. And even if, you know, you let’s say they’ve got three series, they’re writing over a period of time. They can’t even remember like what what’s going on in that book. Right. So like to, to have some process that Makes it smoother and then just reduces the time, right?

This, this gets you back a lot of just, you know, physical labor of wrestling, this stuff to the ground that is just there, like to essentially to manually filter this so you can comprehend what works you’re being told.

[00:30:35] Evan: Yeah. Yeah. Giving, giving time back to writers to focus on writing is actually, you know, what it’s really all about.

And again, like going back to what you were saying about developing a team that really feels invested in like having a process that they know how to work with and they can do it on a consistent basis. Like, especially when you’re pumping out a lot of words, like having that process for your readers, it’s really important too, to make it easy for them.

So, so, yeah. There was one other thing that I did want to touch on real quick too, which is when you’re getting your responses back from your beta readers, one thing is when they leave responses to your chapters and they give you a rating for the chapter, but then they also have to answer how eager they are to read the next chapter.

And so. You get an anticipation rating from your readers and story origin. If you know, if you’ve got a, a three or four or five just leaves it great. But if you’ve got a rating that’s a two, then it will be marked in yellow. If you’ve got a rating, that’s a one that’ll be marked in red. And so I can really clearly see like, okay, like here, I’m getting, you know, You know, 3, 4, 5 on all, you know, chapter one, chapter two, chapter three.

And then I see, okay. When I go and I filter to, you know, let’s say, you know, chapter three, version three, or let’s see what chapter it’s. So it’s section two version one, right? Like let’s say I see feedback from all of my readers, like, oh, the rating on this chapter, I’m getting like ones or twos. And my anticipation rating is like, Oh like a one or two people don’t want to continue the story from here.

Like, I might have a bad chapter, but if people aren’t eager to read the next chapter, that means I really need to focus on what is my hook in this chapter. Right. Because with each chapter you really gotta be thinking about, okay, how am I hooking them into wanting to turn the page to go to the next chapter?

Because it can be easy to just lose people. And when you’re, when you’re sending out beta copies, if you lose people partway through the process and they don’t, you don’t ever get feedback from them, you don’t know where it is. You lost them in the process. Did they never even opened your file? Did they, did they open it and they read the first chapter or two or three, and then you lost them there.

Okay. Like, where are you? What point are you losing a readers? And so if I can see, okay, they’re not really eager to re read chapter four and I didn’t get any feedback on them from chapter four. This is where I lost them in the process. And it’s because like, oh, they, their anticipation, like, they’re not really eager to read it.

And that’s probably because, you know, I’m, I’m losing them in that hook to reek to keep.

[00:33:29] Joseph: Absolutely. I think that, that, you know, when you’re thinking about that whole experience that you’re trying to create in a book and you know, we all love it when we get a book that’s so good that we just can’t put it down.

But that takes time to figure out. And in this part of the process, if you can get that feedback and understand. Even if it’s like, I don’t know, it just doesn’t work. Right? Like, that’s kind of, you’ll get a comment. Like, I don’t know what, but like the fact that you saw that, you know, six out of 10 people, that’s where they drop off.

Now at least, you know where to go look and be like, okay, what am I missing here? What is it that like, this is the chapter that’s killed the book.

[00:34:09] Evan: Right. Yeah. And a reader may not be really good at necessarily explaining why it is that they’ve lost interest. Right? Every people, you know, everyone has to some degree, trouble explaining what it is that they really like love about any particular thing necessarily.

And so, yeah, you might, you might not see specific feedback that it’s like. Oh, it’s this character’s specific part here where they’re really not actually, you know, following up on whatever their dream or their goal is that they said in chapter one, it’s like an inversion of how, you know, some complicated thing.

They may just, they might just go like, I don’t like, I don’t like what this character did. And so, so yeah. And just being able to see at least on, on that sort of overall basis. Yeah. You’re totally right. Just being able to say, okay, there’s, there’s something, this is where it went wrong. At least I can identify that.

And then what part of is it that I really need to focus on? I

[00:35:12] Joseph: mean, that becomes, you know, if you know that first off, that nobody can even get through to, to the back two thirds of your book, Like that that’s going to be an issue. And now, you know what the issue is, you can fix it or you can try to fix it.

And then you, with the way this tool works, what’s great is you can then go back and get some, did the, like, is, does this work better now? Right? Like that’s the other thing is if you’re using this as an iterative tool, now that gets back to what we were talking about before is over time. You’re going to have to train your team to engage in that process.

That it isn’t just going to be review my book and go on. And disappear. Like you want a team that is invested in this and that, you know, however you decide to game-ify this for them so that they, they, they do keep engagement. That’s going to help so much, right? Yeah.

[00:36:10] Evan: Yeah. Especially with like the. I think, I think one thing that’s interesting is also like the development of sort of serial reading too.

Right? There’s a lot of new alternative ways for readers to, to start stories and, and, and learn about new authors and, you know, like serial fiction is certainly growing. You could even pair something like this. Your cereal fiction. So you might be uploading chapters. You don’t have to have the book completed when you upload it as a beta copy to story origin.

You might just have the first three chapters ready to go, and then you might be releasing new chapters on a weekly basis. And that might be a week or two ahead of when you’re releasing it across any serial fiction apps or anything. Right. And so you’re being able to get feedback before you put those out there.

You’re able to get feedback from like, at least a few core readers about your chapters, because it’s really difficult to get feedback and manage like any sort of real editing process. When you’re talking about doing serial fiction, I’m not sure write the whole book beforehand. And then you’re just, you know, just posting the book that you already wrote in already.

If you want to have like a sort of a just-in-time process, right? Like if you’re talking about manufacturing yeah. To this, this, this would be like, sort of streamlining the process to the max. Yeah.

[00:37:35] Joseph: I mean, that’s, that’s a great point as far as with whether you’re doing like a Vela or a road or any of these other serialized things where You need to have some feedback.

This would be a great tool and you could get people where they understand how they’re working like this. Isn’t like a traditional book review where like, Hey, we’re going to go through this process. We’re going to be done. And it’s over. It’s like in this particular case, this is going to be an ongoing thing.

And you’re a couple of weeks ahead of everybody else or a couple of months ahead, whatever it might be, but that they are helping you to realize. Craft this and punch up all these points that you need with, you know, because that’s one of these things where you need to have cliffhangers and long arches arcs and, you know, there’s some, there’s some real serious mechanics to making serialized fiction compelling.

[00:38:25] Evan: Yeah. Yeah. You, you, again, that’s going, this is going back to the, like, you know, how eager are they to read the next chapter? How, how well do you have that hook? Ah, Yeah, incredibly important within serial serialized fiction.

[00:38:42] Joseph: Cool. Cool. So what else should they know about this? This particular tool story origin,

[00:38:47] Evan: One of the things, so we’ve talked about seeing, seeing the feedback on overall chapters.

I think one thing that we missed is just being able to view like the, the inline comments that you get from authors or from readers. Sorry. So you can see, you know, you can go to your chapter. You know, chapter one, version one, and I can look at, okay, here’s the text that they highlighted. Here’s the comments.

So this would show me the comments I’ve received from all of my readers. But if I want to just, you know, look at comments from our particulare reader or five, you know, I’ve got my to do’s here. I can say, okay, now I’ve. Gone through marked all of my unread as either to dues or, you know, I’ve just considered it, but I’m not going to do it.

I’ve got all my to do’s here now. I’m just going to go through them and actually update my manuscript. Yeah. So this is, this is another really sort of key part of the ingredient, sort of like you know, track changes or leaving comments in Google docs. Right. So, so works there too for you.

I think, I think that pretty much covers it covers every thing that I think dimension with this feature, this feature is on the standard plan on story origin. So there’s like the, there’s a free tier on storage and which gives you some basic features and. There’s the standard plan on store origin, which gives you that all the advanced features.

And so this is one of those advanced features that you would need to be on the standard plan for,

[00:40:18] Joseph: and what’s that standard plan running. Now I know that, you know, for a long time you were doing everything as a free beta, and now we’re past that. It’s a, it’s a commercialized

[00:40:29] Evan: product. Yeah. So. $10 per month or $100 per year, which when you consider, you know, everything else that you get with being able to build your mailing list with the reader, magnets and the universal book links and review copies, and this new feature with beta readers and newsletter swaps and through promos.

Yeah, I mean the, the return on investment, I think is extremely high with storyboards.

[00:40:58] Joseph: Well, and I, you know, we don’t want to turn this into a, going through all the features, but just for anyone that isn’t familiar with it, you know, besides this thing where you’re just covering today, one of the biggest things is if you’re an early author, you’ve PR one of the things you did in that early beta process was you built up a very strong community of people to do newsletter swaps and promotions on this planet.

And you know, that that’s kind of the other piece of this puzzle, right? Is like, if you’re an author, that’s like, oh, well I don’t even have a list to send this to well, that’s where you need to use the other part where you start to build your list. Right? And then you can start to segment people out of that list to be folks that will be part of this

[00:41:52] Evan: Right.

Yeah, for sure. So, so yeah, with, with story origin, you can, you know, you might, you might have been saying, you know, Evan, I don’t, I don’t have a list at all. Or, you know, I ha I have zero subscribers. Can I even joke. Can I do cross promotions if I have zero subscribers? Yes, absolutely. You can join store origin.

You’ve got no mailing lists, no subscribers, join story origin, join group promotions, put out a reader magnet, which is usually like a pre-qual short story that you give away. That’s like a prequel to your book one or your series. Use that in, in do cross promotions with other authors, because so many authors on story origin or in your shoes, you know, probably just a couple of months ago they had zero subscribers.

I was just talking to an author the other day and he was, he was saying, yeah, when I, when I started on storage and zero subscribers joined it a few months later, now I’ve got over 600 now I’m running my own group promos. Right? And when authors apply to my group promos that have zero subscribers on their list.

Yeah. Except those people, because I was just in their shoes, like just a couple of months ago. Right. Like I understand the pain and the, the, you know, of like, okay, just starting out. So, yeah, definitely, definitely like hop on so many authors in the community are so nice, so helpful. It’s really amazing. Like I’m so glad I get to work on a piece of the internet where like people are just helping each other.

I feel like so much of the internet is not that, but like store origins, this little corner, it’s like, Hey, people are like really helping each other here. Yeah. So, you know, build your mailing list. You can, you can start from scratch. And then those people that, that join, like there, there are people that are, are interested in your work, right on get those people to become beta readers for you, because it’s really easy to just send that link out and ask like, Hey, who wants to, who wants to beta read?

You know, my book one, if you’ve been using your prequel as, as your reader magnet,

[00:43:59] Joseph: I’ve been seeing you know, some more notable authors folks that are doing really well, that are. Still active in promotions, right? Like that, that’s just part of how they’re continuing to build their audiences. They participate in certain amount of promotions with some reader magnets that they’ve developed and they, they’re probably a little more judicious in deciding how they move the people from that promotion into their regular mailing list because of the, you know, they understand that.

Where the sources, but they, they can see the data that, you know, that is a, a regular way of people finding new authors. And I know you know, we just did the the, the Keystone reader survey where we, we did this, you know, we had A couple of thousand readers that we surveyed and newsletter promotions is still one of the most significant ways for new author discovery, right?

Like it’s in the top three more so than advertising. Like that’s what people have to understand is, is that. As far as an effective tool for you to be discovered, it is if it’s not number one it’s in the top three, for sure.

[00:45:17] Evan: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, just having a mailing list is so important. It just gives you that point of contact, direct contact with your readers that you do not get if you’re just running ads, right?

Like you can. You can run, run ads all day long and drive drive sales. But then when you’ve got a new release, you have to go back to the well to try to, to, to try and advertise that new release. When you’ve got a mailing list, you, you just have that direct point of contact to say, Hey, you know, You love to book one or whatever, like yours look to is out now.

Right. So, so yeah, and, and having those cross promotions is super valuable, not only as a way to build your mailing list, but as content for your newsletters. Right? Because what a lot of readers love is being able to find recommendations for new books from authors. Right? So if I, as an author, if I’m joining cross promotion, And I’m promoting those other authors.

I become a source of recommendations to my readers for other authors that they might like, and then that’s getting them to open my emails because they want to see what new books I’m recommending or what new books I’m just saying, Hey, here’s something that might interest you. It’s also in my same genre, it doesn’t necessarily need to be a recommendation, but just like a, Hey, here’s something interesting that I ran across.

Like here’s you might want to check it out too. Yeah, super valuable because that gets your readers to open your emails and click on them. That’s what you really want when you have a new release. If readers are not, you know, if they’re not opening your emails because you’re not, you’re not giving them stuff, that’s going to interest them.

Then they’re not going to open that email where you have your new release. So if you’re making deals and promotions, a regular part of your newsletter, you’re always giving readers a reason to open it.

[00:47:15] Joseph: For sure. And I think the other part that gets lost a lot of times in this is that when you touched down a little bit with people, you know, making sure that they include those folks that start at zero, because they remember what it looks like.

There’s also this, these cohorts that develop right where it’s like, all of us are kind of starting out at the same time trying this and this genre and. Naturally, there’s going to be some of us that succeed and others that don’t, but those of us that succeed and we’re doing it, helping each other, we develop a relationship that will be a lifelong relationship, right.

So that we will not always have access to this small group of people as we more and more successful. Right. So that’s a time investment thing, right? It’s like the old days of, you know, like a talent agencies, everybody started in the mail. Right. And you have to work your way up and it’s like, you remember the guys that you were in the mail room with, and now that experience is something you are able to go back on when you’re now all working at different movie studios, because you would spend 25 years since the mail room.

But if you don’t do that, you never get that bond. And I think that that’s, again, this community piece on the author side, that’s also. As important as that customer experience is like, this is a place for you to hook up with other authors in your genre that are trying to do the same thing as you. And if you help each other, then you have a higher chance

[00:48:47] Evan: of success.

Yeah. Being an author can certainly be a very lonely journey, but it does not need to be. Right. So, so yeah, having, having those other people who are. In your same genre too, like you might go to a local writer’s meetup. Right. And you’ve got, you know, you’ve got someone there that’s writing science fiction.

You’ve got someone there. That’s writing romance. You’ve got someone writing fantasy. You, you guys may not connect on a deeper level of interests there, but when you’re organizing cross-promotions, those are usually like really specific to like a genre and even a sub genre. Like maybe it’s not just romance, but it’s clean romance that I’m connecting with other authors on.

Yeah. And then you build these connections and bonds with these other authors that really in your genre and you guys might even, you might even do like a, they might be your critique partners too. So you might send them the link to your beta copy on story origin and have them give you feedback on your new release on, on your, your manuscript.

And then you might, you know, do the same for one of their beta copies on story origin. So yeah, it’s, it’s, you know, building those bonds with other authors, definitely valuable and in story origin helps with that too.

[00:50:00] Joseph: Cool. Awesome. So where can people find story origin and learn more about the product

[00:50:06] Evan: and all that?

Good. Yeah. So people can find it at store origin, And if anyone has any questions, can certainly just go to the, go to the homepage on story origin. If you just scroll down to the bottom of the page, you will find my email address right there. Or if you hit the contact page, you can find my email address there as well.

My inbox is open. Always happy to answer people’s questions. Definitely do not feel free, do not feel afraid to reach out. So yeah, always have to answer people’s questions.

[00:50:36] Joseph: Pretty big story origin, community of authors on Facebook as well, right?

[00:50:41] Evan: Yeah, that’s right. Yeah. There’s the story. Origin authors Facebook group, which is a great way for.

Author’s on store origin, connect with one another, a little bit more closely. And then also, you know, just find ways to work together. And I, I will usually do like new announcements in the Facebook group. Like as a first thing I do when, whenever I release something new. So it’s like a good way to get early, like first peak be the first one to know about whatever, whatever new it is that.

[00:51:11] Joseph: All right, man. Well, it’s been great having you on again, and I’ll see you in a couple of weeks and Las Vegas.

[00:51:16] Evan: Yeah, I’m looking forward to it. Thanks again for having me on. All right. Take care. Bye bye.