First, let's be clear: I can't promise reciprocal beta'ing.
I'd love to, but I can't. I frankly don't have the brainpower.I'm an editor for my day job. That means people pay me to notice that Tommy changed eye color halfway through the book—and that, when I'm not working, I usually want a break, to do something other than what I'm already doing all day.
If you want to beta read for me anyway, I'm grateful. I'd get all verbose about how grateful I am, but I can't figure out a way that won't sound wrong.
So, then. Moving on, but please bear in mind: I'm well aware that beta readers are doing me a favor. If you disbelieve me when I say that, well, you'd be better off not reading the rest of this page, because it'll likely sound presumptuous.
You might've noticed my "Some WiPs" section in my blog sidebar. What's up with that, you ask?
A few things. First, it's another level of accountability for me (though I'm really, really bad about updating that word count). (I'm still finding Stickk quite handy, on that front, by the way.) That "Some WiPs" section is also a way to let anybody who's interested know when things are in the beta stage.
For instance, as I write this, I have Know Thy Frienemy listed as being in "beta stage one". What does that mean?
Well, I endeavor to put my titles through three beta stages.
Beta Stage One means "Hot off the press—I've not even done the complete read-through yet." (Normal number of slots: 1) I edit as I write, so it's not a completely horrid draft, but it'll likely be rough from the climax onward.
Beta Stage Two means it's pretty solid—I've done the read-through and related tweaks—but I still need some feedback. (Normal number of slots: 2) Depending on what's going on with life, this might or might not happen pretty fast after beta stage one.
Beta Stage Three means I think it's ready for proofreading, but I'm looking for a final reader opinion. (Normal number of slots: 1) Though if I know my beta at this stage is busy, I'll likely find another so I'm not handicapped if one or the other falls off the face of the planet. –_^
Now, when I go beta-hunting, I'm often looking for specific types of people. For example, I intentionally have someone slotted to be a stage two beta for Know Thy Frienemy who hasn't read the prequel. When A Fistful of Water hits beta stage, I'll be making sure at least one of my betas is male, after Pneumarian pointed out that some lines in A Fistful of Earth ended up a bit more…salacious than I intended.
So please be aware: Any discrimination encountered if you request to be a beta for me is of the "I need a certain type of beta for this, right now" variety. I can only have a limited number of betas. Beyond the "I can't give all my work away" aspect, there's also the detail that I can only have in-depth discussions with so many people.
However, here's another note: If you want to beta-read for a project that has a slot currently filled, you can still contact me and ask. Tell me why you think you're a good choice. If you're something I'm looking for, I could end up opening another beta-reading slot for you.
I don't expect anybody to beta-read for me. I appreciate it if you do.
And if you do beta-read, please bear in mind that stopping mid-book and saying "I can't stand X" is a perfectly legitimate response. That kind of thing is helpful, even when what you can't stand is something I did on purpose, because it helps me make sure I target my market right.