Jennifer Pickrell

YA Writer

Beta(s) Wanted


There’s no way to avoid sounding like I’m on the set of a cheesy 70’s dating game show, so here goes:

I’ve had several casual, brief encounters with betas over the years, but I am ready to settle down into a long-term relationship.


Here’s the scoop on me:

  • I write contemporary YA and women’s fiction (<-most of my WF characters are late teens/early 20s).
  • I love to write/read about drama.
  • See below for some books I like and why.
  • My YA is heavier material.  Not Ellen Hopkins gritty, but I do have cussing, sex, drinking, drugs, etc.  So obviously I don’t mind reading
    the same, there is very little that shocks or offends me in literature.

What I’m working on now:

Contemp YA, about a 16-year-old girl, the two brothers who love her and the accident that changes everything.  Roughly 82,000 words – re-reading now, so might chop a few paragraphs, flush out some sections.

How I read your work:

I schedule time each week to read and aim for about a chapter a week.  If I have the chance, I read more.

I’m not a line-editor and not likely to catch your split infinitives, but I do give lots of notes – I always try to give an explanation (you’re overusing the word “like;” why is character 1 calling character 2 when #2 is standing right next to #1; this paragraph seems to slow down the momentum of the action, etc.).

I read better when I get the ms in chunks – five cpts or so – than if I get the full all at once.  For some reason, I concentrate better on it this way.

Prefer contemp YA or women’s fiction b/c I don’t read a lot of paranormal/sci-fi/fantasy and probably wouldn’t be your best bet.

What I’m looking for in a beta/critique relationship:

A good back and forth – regular contact (emails, exchanging of documents, notes, etc), someone who’s not afraid to say, “I don’t understand
why your character is being such a bitch,” and someone who is comfortable bouncing ideas.  I generally only show my hubby my first drafts, but I’d love to discuss hypotheticals, things like, “If you were a teenage girl and x happened, do you think you would react like a or b?”  Or, “I’ve got this idea…how lame does it sound?”

Also, it’s always nice to have someone to commiserate and celebrate with when something goes wrong or when something goes very right.

Ideally, I’d love to eventually have a little group – three or four of us.

Some books I like and why:

Deb Caletti (The Six Rules of Maybe) – The neighborhood/community is basically a character itself and the book isn’t a “girl likes boy, gets boy” type of thing.  It’s more of “girl is infatuated by boy, ehh…this is super complicated in an uncomfortable, real life sort of way.”

Sarah Ockler – love that she writes about strong senses of connection.  In both Twenty Boy Summer and Fixing Delilah, a friendship and a family are only shakily surviving because there’s so much unspoken grief.

Courtney Summers (Cracked Up to Be, Fall for Anything) – the characters aren’t always likeable, but there’s a certain vulnerability to them, which they cover with snarky, bitchy armor.

Sarah Dessen (The Truth About Forever) – again, it’s about the connection, this ragtag bunch who are drawn to each other.  The friendships felt so easy, like these people were ones I knew in real life.

So I sound like a potential match to you, now what?

COME ON DOWN! (now I’m mixing up my game shows)

How about we exchange first chapters and see how it works,


Just do some chatting first to see how we get along.

Any other questions, just leave them below or email me at:


Thanks for playing and feel free to repost, link back, retweet this!

Author: Jennifer Pickrell

I write YA contemporary filled w/ romance, angst & family drama. Things I like: cats, snacks, baseball, green tea, taking pictures of trees & movies so bad, they’re good.

2 thoughts on “Beta(s) Wanted

  1. Hey Jennifer! Let’s talk! I am looking for a lot of the same things as you are in a CP. I am about to re-read and dive into a big edit for my contempmorary YA, which is 72,000 words, so it sounds like we may be at a similar place in our manuscripts.

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