Fantasy Beta Reading, Proof Reading & Copy Editing

I was recently on the website of a British writer who also does Beta Reading, Proof Reading and Copy Editing work... and her prices were dirt cheap. Less than minimum wage for the amount of time they required, since she was charging on a per word basis and apparently not paying herself a fair wage.

Meanwhile I typically charge $35 CDN per hour for my editing services. (Roughly $27 USD with the current exchange rate.) For my day job I get paid way more than that, between $40 to $100 per hour.

But enough about that, what bothered me is that she was evidently so desperate for money that she was willing to do Beta Reading, Proof Reading and Copy Editing for such ridiculously low prices. Starving artist? Maybe.

So maybe you are wondering what is the difference between a Beta Reader and a Proof Reader? And while we are at it, Copy Editor.

Beta Reader

"A beta reader is usually an unpaid test reader of an unreleased work of literature or other writing, who gives feedback from the point of view of an average reader to the author. A beta reader is not a professional and can therefore provide advice and comments in the opinions of an average reader."

Usually. Not always. If you are paying the Beta Reader they are effectively a "Professional Beta Reader".

Proof Reader

"A proof reader is typically someone who reads of a draft of a text for publication to detect and correct production errors with respect to typeset, spacing, formatting errors, and making sure the document follows the correct style guide.

Copy Editor

"A copy editor edits a document for spelling and grammar mistakes, but also  to improve accuracy, readability, consistency, repetition, and also checks for production errors / omissions with respect to style guide, typeset, etc."

Of these three things, I admit the only thing I would want to be doing is Copy Editor. Beta Reader and Proof Reader just feel too boring to me and my perfectionism would be screaming at me to correct all the spelling and grammar mistakes. It isn't OCD, not yet at least, but it does cause me physical pain to my brain if I am reading things that have poor spelling and grammar.

Giving feedback on a book I could certainly do too, but I think I would want to combine the roles of Beta Reader and Copy Editor together. Get both done at the same time.

My impressions of the industry however is that many of these Beta Readers and Copy Editors are being too competitive with their prices and not even paying themselves a minimum wage. Also because some of them are charging on a per word basis (instead of charging per hour and providing an estimate of the time requirement/cost based upon editing a sample of the author's work), for documents that could be full of errors and take considerably more time than editing something that has very few errors.

Even so, even if the document had zero errors, the time required to read it alone means that a Beta Reader should be getting paid a reasonable amount.

Note however that the definition said "A beta reader is usually an unpaid test reader".  Literally unpaid.

Now maybe if two authors exchanged chapters of similar length, read them, and gave their thoughts, then that would be an equitable situation.

If I was asking a stranger to be a beta reader I would want to be paying them for their time (and get them to sign a NDA if possible).

I suspect however that in the future beta readers/proof readers could become obsolete. With AI getting smarter it could also be used to edit and provide creative feedback on the text.

Miior and Estrel 2nd Edition Stats

Miior and Estrel are henchmen that the PCs can gain when playing "The Haunted Halls of Eveningstar", a classic Dungeons and Dragons adventure module created by Ed Greenwood. I have run the module twice so far and I am a firm believer that I will do so again.

Because one of the times I ran "The Haunted Halls of Eveningstar" I modded it so it was set in Korovia I also created detailed stats for the two characters for that campaign since they both became henchmen. Those stats are now effectively canonical with respect to my Korovia Dungeons & Dragons campaigns. Thus for record keeping purposes I have decided to create an online backup of those stats, in case I ever need their stats for a future campaign and don't have access to my laptop at the time.

The stats below are therefore essentially for my personal use, and they make use of various house rules from my campaign. Eg. Like how I convert THAC0 into a bonus to hit because many younger players have difficulty understanding how THAC0 works, and also the matter of "Bonus Skills" on very specific esoteric topics. I also use Comeliness, an outdated stat that is rarely used by DMs any more, but I find it adds an enjoyable alternative to Charisma which has valuable roleplaying potential.

Note also that I have kept the original basic stats as set down by Ed Greenwood in the 2nd Edition module.

As a DM I find henchmen to be exceptionally useful for roleplaying purposes, but also as backup characters that the players can play in the event that their PC is knocked unconscious, captured, dead, etc. See also:

Henchemen stealing the glory? Or just supporting cast?

The rarely used Henchman in Dungeons and Dragons games

Who are the most popular urban fantasy authors?

Urban fantasy is a subgenre that blends elements of fantasy with contemporary settings, often featuring magical creatures, supernatural phenomena, and urban environments. Here are some of the most popular and influential urban fantasy authors:

  1. Jim Butcher: Butcher's "Dresden Files" series follows wizard and private investigator Harry Dresden as he solves supernatural mysteries in modern-day Chicago. The series has a large and dedicated fan base.

  2. Patricia Briggs: Briggs is known for her "Mercy Thompson" series, which centers around a shapeshifting mechanic who becomes entangled in the world of werewolves, vampires, and fae. Her books blend action, romance, and supernatural elements.

  3. Charlaine Harris: Harris gained fame with her "Sookie Stackhouse" series (also known as the "Southern Vampire Mysteries"), featuring telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse in a world where vampires have come out of the coffin. The series served as the inspiration for the TV show "True Blood."

  4. Seanan McGuire: McGuire's "October Daye" series follows the adventures of half-human, half-faerie detective October Daye in a modern-day San Francisco filled with magic and mythical creatures. Her works have garnered critical acclaim and a devoted following.

  5. Laurell K. Hamilton: Hamilton's "Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter" series revolves around the titular character, a necromancer and vampire executioner who navigates a world of supernatural creatures, romance, and political intrigue.

  6. Ilona Andrews: Ilona Andrews is the pseudonym for the husband-and-wife writing team of Ilona and Andrew Gordon. Their "Kate Daniels" series features a kickass mercenary living in a post-apocalyptic Atlanta, where magic and technology clash.

  7. Seanan McGuire (as Mira Grant): Under the pen name Mira Grant, McGuire has written the "Newsflesh" series, a post-apocalyptic urban fantasy that combines politics, journalism, and zombies. The series has won several awards.

  8. Kevin Hearne: Hearne's "Iron Druid Chronicles" series follows the adventures of the last surviving druid, Atticus O'Sullivan, as he battles supernatural threats in modern-day Arizona. The series is known for its humor and fast-paced action.

  9. Ben Aaronovitch: Aaronovitch's "Rivers of London" series (also known as the "Peter Grant" series) features a police constable who becomes an apprentice wizard in the London Metropolitan Police's supernatural division. The books blend mystery, humor, and magical elements.

  10. Kim Harrison: Harrison's "The Hollows" series takes place in a world where supernatural creatures coexist with humans. The series follows witch and bounty hunter Rachel Morgan as she navigates a world of magic, vampires, and demons.

Who are the most popular Grimdark Fantasy authors?

Grimdark fantasy is a subgenre characterized by its dark and gritty tone, morally ambiguous characters, and bleak settings. Here are some of the most popular and influential grimdark fantasy authors:

  1. Joe Abercrombie: Abercrombie is often regarded as one of the leading voices in grimdark fantasy. His "First Law" series, including "The Blade Itself," features morally gray characters, brutal violence, and a bleak and cynical worldview.

  2. Mark Lawrence: Lawrence's "The Broken Empire" trilogy, starting with "Prince of Thorns," follows the anti-hero Jorg Ancrath in a violent and unforgiving world. His works often explore themes of power, revenge, and the darker side of human nature.

  3. George R.R. Martin: While primarily known for his epic fantasy series "A Song of Ice and Fire," Martin's work contains elements of grimdark fantasy. The series is renowned for its morally ambiguous characters, ruthless politics, and brutal consequences.

  4. Glen Cook: Cook's "The Black Company" series is often considered a pioneer of the grimdark subgenre. It follows a group of mercenaries in a war-torn world, exploring themes of loyalty, morality, and the grim realities of warfare.

  5. Richard K. Morgan: Morgan's "A Land Fit for Heroes" trilogy, beginning with "The Steel Remains," combines elements of grimdark fantasy and science fiction. The series features flawed and morally complex characters in a brutal and unforgiving world.

  6. R. Scott Bakker: Bakker's "The Prince of Nothing" series, starting with "The Darkness That Comes Before," presents a dark and complex world inhabited by morally ambiguous characters and explores themes of religion, philosophy, and the nature of power.

  7. Scott Lynch: Lynch's "Gentleman Bastard" series, beginning with "The Lies of Locke Lamora," combines dark humor with gritty and violent storytelling. The series follows a group of con artists in a morally ambiguous and treacherous world.

  8. Anna Smith Spark: Spark's "Empires of Dust" trilogy, starting with "The Court of Broken Knives," offers a grim and visceral tale of power struggles, political intrigue, and morally ambiguous characters in a decadent and brutal world.

  9. Brian Ruckley: Ruckley's "The Godless World" trilogy, beginning with "Winterbirth," presents a dark and war-torn world where gods have fallen and morality is questionable. The series explores themes of power, religion, and the consequences of war.

  10. Luke Scull: Scull's "Grim Company" trilogy follows a diverse group of characters in a world plagued by war and corruption. The series offers a grim and violent portrayal of a dark and unforgiving fantasy setting.

Nerd vs. Geek: Debunking the Stereotypes

The terms "nerd" and "geek" have often been used interchangeably to describe individuals with a passion for intellectual pursuits and niche interests. However, these labels have also been burdened with stereotypes that can be misleading and unfair. In this blog post, we aim to debunk the stereotypes surrounding nerds and geeks, shedding light on the true essence of these terms and celebrating the diverse and multifaceted individuals they represent.

Defining Nerds and Geeks:

While the terms "nerd" and "geek" are often used synonymously, there are subtle distinctions between the two. Generally, nerds are associated with deep intellectual curiosity, academic pursuits, and a strong focus on knowledge. They are often portrayed as highly intelligent individuals with a passion for learning and mastery of specific subjects. Geeks, on the other hand, are often linked to a fervent enthusiasm for niche interests, such as comic books, video games, or technology. Geeks are characterized by their deep immersion in these hobbies and their ability to recite trivia and engage in detailed discussions.

Dispelling the Social Awkwardness Stereotype:

One of the most prevalent stereotypes associated with nerds and geeks is social awkwardness. However, this generalization does not accurately represent the diverse range of social skills and personalities within these communities. While some individuals may exhibit shyness or introversion, many nerds and geeks have well-developed interpersonal skills and thrive in social settings. Geek culture has also fostered vibrant communities and conventions where individuals can connect, share their passions, and forge lasting friendships.

Breaking the "Uncool" Stigma:

Another stereotype associated with nerds and geeks is the perception of being uncool or socially undesirable. However, in recent years, popular culture has played a significant role in challenging this stereotype. Movies, TV shows, and even fashion trends have embraced geek culture, portraying nerdy and geeky characters as confident, stylish, and influential. The rise of geek chic and the mainstream success of franchises like Marvel and Star Wars have contributed to reshaping the perception of nerds and geeks as stylish and cool individuals.

Celebrating Passion and Expertise:

Nerds and geeks are passionate individuals who dedicate themselves to their interests and often acquire extensive knowledge in their chosen fields. They embrace their passions wholeheartedly and find joy in immersing themselves in intellectual or niche pursuits. Rather than being confined by stereotypes, nerds and geeks should be celebrated for their enthusiasm, dedication, and the expertise they bring to their respective fields.

The Diverse Spectrum of Nerds and Geeks:

It is essential to recognize that nerds and geeks encompass a wide range of interests and backgrounds. From scientists and mathematicians to comic book enthusiasts and gamers, the world of nerdom is vast and inclusive. It is a diverse community that welcomes individuals from all walks of life, united by their shared love for intellectual pursuits, fandoms, and niche hobbies. This diversity defies simplistic stereotypes and highlights the rich tapestry of talents and interests within the nerd and geek culture.

Embracing the Hybrid Identity:

In reality, many individuals embody both nerd and geek qualities, blurring the lines between the two. It is not uncommon to find someone who is deeply passionate about a particular subject while also immersing themselves in a variety of geeky interests. The hybrid identity that emerges challenges the rigid definitions and emphasizes the fluidity and complexity of individuals' interests and personalities.


Nerds and geeks are not defined by stereotypes but rather by their unique passions, interests, and expertise. It is crucial to debunk the misconceptions surrounding these terms and celebrate the diversity within these communities. By understanding and embracing the true essence of nerd and geek culture, we can foster inclusivity, appreciation, and respect for the individuals who contribute to this vibrant and intellectually stimulating world.

Publishing a fantasy book? Make sure you get a professional fantasy book editor.

Study Archery in Toronto

So you want to study archery, but you are having difficulty finding an archery instructor who is local. However there is a solution. If you are willing to travel you can take a crash course in archery in Toronto, Canada. 10 lessons over a two week period will take you from archery novice to an experienced and capable archer.

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