Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Affiliate: Project Team Beta

I, like many of you, am a Twilight fanfiction author. I write a story that is posted on FanFiction and on Twilighted. And, embarrassingly enough, I write a story that was unbeta’d for sixteen whole chapters. I worked for so long without the assistance of a beta because it took me that long to realize that I needed a beta, to realize that everyone needs a beta.

I realized the importance of a beta when I was writing a particular scene; a scene that would introduce a twist that would alter the course of the story. In the course of writing this scene I started seriously second guessing myself, because I was not sure that I could pull off the type of emotion and drama necessary to do the twist justice. I needed someone to listen to what I had planned for the future of my story, to ensure that the idea sounded as good to someone else as it did in my head.

During my search for someone to help I encountered many individuals who were interested in becoming a beta, but lacked any experience to show the type of assistance they could provide. In the end I made the decision to work with cALLIEfornia BENches, and I have not once regretted that decision. The assistance and support that these two have provided me in our almost five months of working together has been instrumental in helping my story improve and in helping me improve as a writer.

I believe that Twilight fanfiction authors write for two reasons. The first is to continue on the world that Stephenie Meyer has created with Twilight and the subsequent novels. The second is to improve their skills as a writer.

Think about it this way: real life authors do not get their work published without an editor. Why should you post your story without a beta? This may just be fanfiction, but that does not mean there should be an absence of good quality writing.

What the HALE is Project Team Beta?

Project Team Beta is something I founded when I noticed a disconnect happening in the Twilight fandom. There are many authors searching unsuccessfully for a beta. At the same time there are many individuals out there interested in becoming a beta, yet feel they lack the experience to do an adequate job. Project Team Beta works to close that gap. We provide betas with the opportunity to gain experience and authors with feedback necessary to help them improve.

We are a full service beta group, meaning we will provide feedback on everything we can to help our authors write a good quality story. A good quality story does not just have proper punctuation and spelling, it also has well developed characters and an intriguing and logical plot. We aren’t perfect but we will do our very best to help our authors write the best quality story possible.

“One of the things I love about being a beta is that you get the ‘behind the scenes’ view of the story-writing process and see the thoughts, mistakes and brainstorming that all go into creating a masterpiece.” - SecretlySeverus

How does Project Team Beta work?

The Project Team Beta process is a relatively simple one for authors to adjust to. Authors are able to have one chapter in transit at a time. A chapter in transit will go to a first run beta and then a second run beta. The use of two betas enables a greater amount of feedback to be provided to authors which results in a greater amount of improvement.

One thing that Project Team Beta strongly believes in is the idea that improvement is a collaborative process. Authors should not rely solely on the feedback of a beta to help them improve. We expect authors to self edit their own work, to the best of their ability, before we spend our time and energy providing them with feedback.

We want to help authors that are truly looking to improve their writing. That improvement is not just about correct comma usage or the proper way to punctuate dialogue. It is about the overall story. Authors who work with Project Team Beta know that we will comment on anything and everything we can to help them develop a story that is not only well written, but one that is cohesive, well paced and entertaining.

“With PTB, I know at least two betas are going to review my story, betas with experience. And it’s more than just a grammar check. They’ve pointed out when I was straying from character, dialogue problems, even chapter placement within my story.” –Duskwatcher

Project Team Beta does more than just provide feedback on chapters. We also write a bimonthly resource tool called TWEAK which is posted on our LiveJournal. TWEAK is a newsletter, of sorts, that highlights common writing errors, resources in the Twilight fandom that every author should consider (um… The Lazy, Yet Discerning Ficster anyone?) and more.

Another great aspect of Project Team Beta is that it is not just for authors, it is for betas as well. Beta members improve their skills by working in a team and by receiving frequent feedback. Betas are also able to improve through interacting with one another on the Project Team Beta Google Group, which is only accessible to PTB betas.

“The whole ‘team spirit’ thing is alive and well in PTB. If someone puts something out there, a cry for help, a request for an opinion or feedback or anything else randomly related to PTB, then the Google Group makes it happen and keeps it all in one place. It’s where I can find more about my fellow PTB beta members, see any current news items relating to PTB, or search back through past discussion topics to find useful information.” -Vampgirl

Why Project Team Beta?

I could wax on (and on and on and on) about the benefits of working with a beta, but Pastiche Pen did an excellent job of doing that in “The Alpha, The Beta, and The Omega: Pastiche Pen’s Advice on the Newbie Power and the Fandom Tower”. And, I could wax on about the specific benefits of working with Project Team Beta, but I think the point would be illustrated far better if I allow some of our members to tell you how the experience has been for them.

“They (Project Team Beta) are truly dedicated to the stories, ensuring that each story becomes a quality piece of work, deserving of the Twilight fandom. It’s an amazing feeling to know that there is a whole group out there that wants to help you succeed.” - hellacullen

“Working with Project Team Beta has been a great experience. I know when I send my chapter off it will come back fully beta’d by two excellent betas. Having two betas read my work has been extremely helpful because I know what one may miss, the other will catch. I’ve gotten a ton of different insights about my fic, which has helped me take it in the right direction.” - AZBella07

“The betas know my story, they know my characters, they know the motivations behind their actions, and they know what errors to catch me on. That is a pretty conventional author/beta relationship. Also, being someone who has only recently come out of lurkdom, I don’t really know many people in the community. Being able to send my chapters to a structured team of betas has been the easiest way for me to get comprehensive feedback and constructive criticism for my story.” - hedoesnthavefangs

“I can attest that I have learned so much in the process. I have learned that it’s so much more than just grammar and spelling. It’s also about characterization and story plotting. Because of PTB, I’ve gotten a better grasp on those things and I have been able to help other authors in the process. It has also made me more vigilant in my own writing.” - neveryoumind

How do I get involved with Project Team Beta?

Working with Project Team Beta is very easy. Simply visit our LiveJournal community to find both the author application and the beta application. Fill out whichever application applies to you and email it to me. My contact information is available on the LiveJournal. After the application is accepted, we are ready to start working with you.



  1. In the last couple weeks I've had the privilege of interacting with four of my favourite published authors. Three of them (Mark Jeffrey, Holly Black, and Cassandra Clare) brought up the idea of a beta.
    They didn't call it that of course. But they did talk about the importance of having someone you trust read your story before anyone else. Trusting them to tell you when its good even though you think its crap, and when its bad even though you think its golden.

    I thought it was very interesting that even people with paid editors liked having someone slightly more friendly, but still honest, to go through the writing process with.

    I guess what I was trying to say is, finding a good beta is always an intelligent thing to do, even if you are published

  2. As a brand new author, and one of the PTB family, I just want to acknowledge the awesomeness that is JMeyer! I can only imagine the amount of time and effort she has devoted, and continues to devote, to PTB. It really is a wonderful system. For those of us on the fringes of the community (either because we're new or simply don't have the time to get heavily involved in forums and the like) this is a great way to connect with people who can help us develop our writing and beta-ing skills. I doubt I would have had the confidence to even consider putting my story out in the public domain without the help and encouragement I got from JMeyer and her team! Thanks guys - you rock!! :-D

  3. This sounds fantastic, as someone who has only recently started to write in story form this will be invaluable. I was sat last night wondering how I would get feedback on my story as I'm a secret writer IRL, I always hide it away and would die if anyone read it, but still needing to know if my characters have enough depth, whether I'm telling rather than showing, somebody to tell me that flipping from third person pov to first person pov for part of the story really isn’t working. My only conclusion was to post a chapter up on LJ and ask for comments and hope for the best, and then I wake to this :) there is another possibility…

    I just need to grow a pair first

  4. PTB rocks! I know I say that a lot, but it's true! I'm almost at 100 reviews. I doubt if I would ahve gotten more than 10 if it hadn't been for my super, amazing betas!

  5. I'm so excited to see this here. As a beta with PTB I can honestly say that committing to it is the best thing I've done within the fandom so far. I've made some nice freinds, my writing has actually improved from looking critically at the work of others. It's also proved invaluable to me since I use some of the btas signed up there for my own work.
    thank you Jess for all the hard work you put into this group


  6. I think that PTB is the best idea I have seen in the fanfic world in a long time, and I am proud to be a part of it. I find my own writing improving because I am reading it like a beta now instead of just the author. New writers need a lot of help in improving their work, and experienced writers can always use a fresh set of eyes to find things that they have missed in the million times they have read a chapter. As both a writer and a beta I highly reccomment PTB and I thank JMeyer for her effort in getting all of this together and keeping it running so efficiently!

  7. Another PTB beta wanting to gush about how awesome JMeyer is for coming up with this idea and all the hard work she has put in. She puts her heart and soul and hours and hours of effort into this collaboration, all with the intent to help everyone out. Her goals are not just to find good betas and unleash them on the stories but to welcome anyone in who wants to learn how to beta and do it well. It's all about working as a collaborative team and has really helped to build a sense of community. Not to mention the fact that most of us are here so that we can give back to this wonderful community that has given us so much. Thank you, Jess, for takign so much time to do this, you're awesome and we all love you for it. Thank you, TLYDF, for giving her the opportunity to tell the entire community all about her project and to get the name out there.


  8. All of the ladies who have commented above me are missing out on one VERY important part of Project Team Beta, the participants. I might have come up with the idea, but PTB would be nothing without the 30+ betas who spend hours of their time betaing stories and the 40+ authors who trust us with their work. Without all of you, PTB would not exist. Thank you.

  9. I would also like to thank Smellyia for giving me the opportunity to write about Project Team Beta on TLYDF. Epic fail on my part that I did not include that in the actual post.

  10. I am one of those authors who struggled with getting the right beta. Smellyia gave me some great advice and insight about the importance of working with beta readers, which made me quite picky in my search. Discovering PTB felt like the golden opportunity I was waiting for. This group has provided me with immeaurable amounts of insight into my own writing, and is helping me improve both my story and my craft. Yah PTB!

  11. I've written fanfiction off and on for about 10 years. Since high school, I've never really worked with a beta until recently. And, since I came into the idea that I need one (as everyone needs a beta or at least a second pair of eyes) I've searched high and low for a good beta who would help me out and give it to me straight. I've been lucky enough to find a few (Books and Segolily) but a third and fourth pair of eyes are always needed. That is why I love this idea for Project Team Beta and look forward to both great feedback and, maybe, helping out someone else in the process.


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