W.O.L.F. Sector
Worlds Of Lesbian Fiction

BetaWolf Tutorials

As a BetaWolf, one of your tasks is to not only provide me with solid feedback for my stories, but to provide that feedback in a way that makes it easy for me to use.

In the past, when I've sent story text included as part of the e-mail announcement, I've wasted a lot of my time searching through pages of text only to find out that when the reader replied to my e-mail and added their two lines of comments at the beginning, they forgot to get rid of the story text from the original e-mail, which was automatically appended to their reply even though they didn't make any edits/comments to it. This is not only bad e-mail etiquette, but is also really annoying.

So, I want to make sure you visually separate your edits and/or comments from my text so they stand out and I can find them. My preference is for all edits/comments to appear in red. You may choose a different color, but if it doesn't work for me, I'll ask you to switch it to red.

Even if you already know how to do that in your e-mail or word processor, please read all of the tutorials, not only to make sure you're styling your feedback the way I've requested, but also to help you decide which format will work best for you.

Pick Your Format

When I announce to the story list that a new chapter is ready to be beta-read, I offer three formats for you to choose from:

E-mail Text

If you choose to work with this version, you must be able to view HTML-enhanced e-mail. If you have your program set to read plain text only, italics and other styling will be missing, which can seriously impair the reading process. I use italics extensively for character thoughts and this becomes especially important for stories like Lights of Life, which includes telepathic conversations. If you can't read HTML e-mail, do not use this format.

Also, through my limited testing, I've found that unless you use Microsoft Outlook (which is what I use to create my e-mails), the spacing between paragraphs tends to disappear, making the text difficult to read because it's all scrunched together. I know of no simple way to correct this (manually adding line spaces would take far too long, especially for some of my longer 30-page chapters). So, unless you use Outlook to view your e-mail, I suggest you read the story in either the Web page format or the Word file and then make your edits in the e-mail text.

You must also be able to send HTML e-mail. The reason is that plain text doesn't support changing the font color, which is one of the things you have to do. If you can't send HTML e-mail, do not use this format.

Assuming you're all set with HTML e-mail, here are a couple tutorials to show you how to work with the story text in both Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 and Yahoo!'s free Internet-based e-mail service. These are the two systems I'm familiar with, but hopefully the information is useful for other e-mail programs and Internet-based e-mail services.

Web Page

The Web page version is basically like reading any other story chapter on the site, though I don't style the page to look like the rest of the site (it's just black text on a white background).

This version is mostly to supplement the e-mail text format. Chapters won't always make it onto the general site (unposted stories won't have their chapters posted until the whole story is finished) and someone could join the list after the last e-mail with story text has already been sent (meaning they wouldn't receive it), so I don't want the only way for someone to access the beta chapters to be to download the Word file.

If you end up working with this version, you must be able to send HTML e-mail just like for the previous option for the same reasons as listed above. The only difference between that version and this one is that you'll be copy/pasting from the Web page into your e-mail, rather than the text already being in the e-mail.

Word File

This is my preferred method for receiving feedback. Word is extremely easy to use and does the styling for you, so you can concentrate on your edits/comments. You can also use OpenOffice.org (or any other program that can read and edit Word .docx files). These are the two programs I'm familiar with, but hopefully the information is useful for other word processors.

After You Return Your Feedback

Once I receive your feedback, I should be able to go through it and easily find your edits/comments (if not, I'll let you know). You should get a confirmation e-mail from me within a few days letting you know I got your e-mail. Once I've gone through your edits/comments, if I need clarification or further information, I'll send a follow-up e-mail. Otherwise, you won't receive anything more until I'm finished making all the changes everyone has suggested (at least those I agree with). At that point, I'll either upload the new version to go through another round of beta, or I'll post it as the Final Draft (at least for the time being) and/or post it to the site for the general members to read. You can still offer edits/comments on Final/posted chapters, but it won't be required.