Hello, and welcome to Beta Services, For Sale or Rent. This forum is one of the many tools that we here at MNFF offer to users in order to produce the highest quality fictions possible.
What is a beta? Don't worry if you don't know! When I was a bright-eyed little newbie, I had no idea what a beta was, either, or why I would need one. A beta is an individual who volunteers their time to help their fellow users edit their stories for things like grammar, punctuation, canon compliance and spelling, as well as characterisation and plot.
Why do I need a beta? Simply put, we all make mistakes. Every last one of us has made a typo or a little timeline boo boo, no matter how well-versed we are in grammar/plot/etc. And some people will forever be disenchanted with the proper use of the comma. But that's okay. That's why we have betas. Simply put, an extra set of eyes is never a bad thing and cannot do anything but improve your work. Not only can a fresh perspective give you insight into things that might not have translated as well from your imagination to the page, but it can spot random typos that, upon self-editing, one may have missed. And, as a moderator, I can tell you that these things happen a lot, and too many occurrences of it will cause a perfectly good story to be rejected. That doesn't do anything for anyone, so it's best to be prepared the best you can be by taking full advantage of our wonderful panel of betas.
How do I ask one of the betas for help? It's fairly simple. In the very first post in most betas' threads, there is typically a sign-up form, which asks you for rudimentary information about your story, such as the title, what genre it is (Romance, Marauder Era, Dark/Angst, etc), how long it is (one-shot, chaptered, drabble), themes and warnings featured, and whether they'll be working in conjunction with any other betas. Betas need this information to judge whether or not they wish to take on your story project. Then you simply fill out the form and reply to their thread. If there is no form, you can use this generic one (betas, feel free to adopt this form for your own thread):
Anything else I need to know? YES! Please respect the betas' listed availability. Not everyone always has time to beta, and most of them are very good about letting people know when they won't be available or when they can only take on smaller projects. Guilting people into betaing for you by asking/begging despite them not being available is strictly prohibited. No one is getting paid for this work, so they are in no way obligated to help you if they decline. Please only request from betas who are listed as available, and please respect their wishes if they decline. Also, please credit your beta(s) when you submit a story or drabble by listing their username or whatever name they go by. Not only does it show others that you care about your work enough to hire a beta, but it shows what sort of work that beta can do and works as a sort of advertisement of their qualifications.
[b]Username: [/b](make sure you specify if your username on the archives is different than your forum username)
[b]Story title: [/b](If you're not sure, just indicate that you don't have one yet or that you're working on it)
[b]Genre: [/b](which archive category your story will likely fall into)
[b]Ships: [/b](this is short for 'relationships', as in character romances and pairings that will be appearing in the story in any sort of prominent fashion)
[b]Rating and Warnings: [/b](please refer to the individual betas' first posts in their beta threads to make sure that they accept assignments that contain any applicable warnings)
[b]Drabble, One Shot, Short Chaptered, or Long Chaptered: [/b](Drabble = 800 words or less; One-Shot = 10,000 words or less; Short Chaptered = 20,000 words or less; Long Chaptered = 20,000+ words)
[b]Word Count (about): [/b](for one-shots, get a general figure that is close to the final product, and for chaptered, specify the projected number of chapters and average length of each chapter)
[b]Permanent Y/N: [/b](This indicates whether you'd like the beta to be available for you in future works of yours OR if you would like them to stick with you through an entire story if it's chaptered. If yes, be specific which one you mean.)
[b]Summary: [/b](If you don't have a final draft of one, that's okay. At least provide a general outline of what the story is about.)
[b]Anything you want me to pay close attention to?: [/b](This is where you ask for any specific sort of help you need. For example you could state that you're bad with commas, or that you're writing a story with Alternate Universe elements and you would like advice about how plausible the plot is. Or maybe you have difficulty with a certain character's voice and mannerisms and you'd like a second opinion about how well you did or what you could do to improve.)
I'm a beta or am looking to become one. Anything I need to know? Absolutely! There is a lot to know about being a beta, but the most important one is communication. If you wish to gain the reputation of being reliable, communication is valuable. Your clients need to know that you are there to help and that you can be reached when they really need you. That includes keeping your inbox clear to receive PMs, checking your beta thread and email diligently in case of contact by your clients, responding promptly when they do contact you, and being swift about changing your availability information if you will no longer be fully open to receiving assignments.
Your beta thread should contain the following information: Your availability; your strengths (what your specialties, such as punctuation/grammar, Brit-picking, plot, characterisation, etc.); your weaknesses (commas, certain characters, things like that…); which categories, pairings, and genres you prefer to beta; which categories, pairings, and genres you prefer NOT to beta; which ratings/warnings you will accept; which ratings/warnings you will NOT accept; your current to-do list of in-progress beta assignments; if you wish, a list of assignments you have already completed that are currently posted, in case a prospective client wishes to see your work first-hand (keeping this up-to-date frequently is generally a good practice). It is best for everyone if you make a point out of keeping your 'will do' and 'will not do' lists up to date. For some of us, our fan fiction experiences change. For instance, the idea of Harry having a twin sister may never have occurred to you, but you happened to find one and now have a strong opinion on the subject. Maybe you ran across a pairing you never thought of and would either like to read another one or wish to never, ever see it again. Make sure that you add as much specific information about these types of themes to your first post listing to make sure that your preferences are able to be taken into account as much as possible.
By starting a beta thread, you are acknowledging that you will maintain it to this standard or that you will PM me should you not wish to do so I can lock and grave your thread. People coming to this forum are in need of help, and they need to know that they aren't trying to hire betas who aren't available and cannot help them in a reasonable amount of time. If you'd like your thread to reflect your availability specifically, you can put in a request in the Change of Status thread, stating what you need it to say, and it will be changed for you. Once your request is completed, your post in that thread will be deleted. If you'd like to advertise your services, you can complete the sign-up form in the Beta Listing Sign-Up thread in order to be added to the MNFF version of the Yellow Pages.
Every week, I check this forum for old threads no longer in use. Once a thread has hit six months of inactivity from the owner of the thread, it will be locked and moved to the graveyard to make way for threads that are currently in use. If your thread is nearing its lifespan and you don't wish for it to be moved out of this forum, please PM me beforehand so I can leave it or, if it's already happened, move it back. However, you can prevent this from happening long beforehand. If no one has requested from you in over two months (if you're active, then this isn't likely anyway), you may double-post ONCE in your thread to keep it toward the top, but ONLY if you are currently available. If you are unavailable, you will have to go the first route and keep me apprised by PM. After a year, if your thread is still inactive and you are still unavailable, regardless of whether you want to be kept on this page, your thread will be sent to the graveyard. If this happens, you will need to make a new thread.
I suppose that's all. If you have any other questions, please direct them to the Have a Question About Being a Beta? Ask it Here thread. If there are enough specific FAQs, I will edit them into this thread for future reference. By posting anywhere in this forum, you acknowledge that you have read these rules, understand them, and will abide by them. These rules are necessary to make sure that betas are given the appropriate information to help them do their job and that beta clients are given the best information available about who can best help them with their story. These mechanisms are in place to help this process wherever possible. They're not fool-proof, but they will cover a vast majority of what goes on in this part of the forum.
With that, good luck to everyone!