Help wanted

Wanted: Beta Reader For Book 2 (Read for details!)

Alright, my darlings, I am searching for beta readers for Book 2, The Mercy of Men.

Of course, to read Book 2, you have to read Book 1, A Better Man.

So here are the digs.


Book 1: A Better Man:

Length: 101,000 words (A little longer than The Hobbit.)

Style: 1st Person, Present Tense

Genre: Literary psychological suspense, Appalachian grit, drama

Comp Titles: Mystic River, Doctrine of Labyrinths

Status: Headed for the copy-editor in December. Basically, this one’s done. Unless you spot a glaring, massively problematic plot hole, this is me giving you a book for free. Read it, enjoy it. The only thing I ask you not do is share it, because the copy-editing is not done, but otherwise it’s yours. Keep it for reference, because it’s the lead-up to Book 2.

Blurb: (Still a bit rough, but will give you an overview of the plot)


Simon Flaherty cage fights for money. Not in a stadium with lights, no, in a brick-walled alley with his knuckles taped as a crowd screams for blood. It pays well, and Simon likes what he does. Likes it until the day his opponent hits the concrete–and doesn’t get up again.

In a town where the sidewalks are lined with chain-link, a death on his record only boosts Simon’s reputation. His coach immediately enters him to headline a tournament in a month’s time. No one seems to notice that Simon’s in no condition to train, wracked by guilt for his opponent’s death. No one seems to care, least of all his coach, not with a career-defining fight on the line.

But Simon’s coach isn’t the only man in town with an eye for talent. Since the second civil war, the Appalachian foothills have eluded government control as cartels battle over isolated roads. The local kingpin is always scouting for new recruits, and a teenager with a one-punch knockout is just what he has in mind.

Simon wants nothing to do with the tournament or the cartels, but the last match wasn’t just a tragic accident. It was a set-up, and the kingpin’s to blame. Already haunted by one death, Simon will do anything to get out of the next fight.

In a town that doesn’t care if he lives or dies, ‘anything’ goes a long way.


Book 2: The Mercy of Men (this is the one that needs beta-ing)

Length: 98,000 words

Style: 1st Person, Present Tense

Genre: Literary psychological suspense, urban grit

Status: I have done two hard-edits of this, which is where I print it out and mark it up, then put it back in the computer. This means it’s gone through four edits, plus what my alpha reader does, plus my first soft edit. By the time you get it, it will have gone through another hard edit, for eight edits total. Basically, it’s been through the works. My alpha reader has checked for plot holes, but she’s also intimately familiar with the series, so that influences her. She’s done basic grammar checks as well, but I don’t doubt a few typos persist.

No blurb, except to say this takes place six years after the first book. I really can’t write a blurb without giving major stuff away, which I don’t think is helpful at this point.


Here’s the deal: I write a pretty clean copy. I’m not looking for someone to check my grammar; I’m looking for a beta reader. As in, I want you to point out plot holes, or when the narrative is dragging, or say, “Hey, this is not consistent” when it isn’t.

At the same time, tell me when I’m doing well, when the plot twists are effective, what parts you think should not be changed. Negative, positive, all of it. Tell me who you like and who you hate.

The most important thing to me is to know how the story made you feel. I write pretty solid plots, but I need to know how it comes off, if characters remain sympathetic, etc.

Those of you who have had me beta something for you, you know I do this weird thing where I literally type out all my thoughts. I’m also a rather harsh beta. This is ironic, because I’m the sort who needs very gentle people. Tell me what’s wrong, please tell me what’s wrong, just, you know, tell me lots of what’s right as well. Understand that I really do want to know, but it’s often difficult for me to hear. Be straightforward without being unkind. I will appreciate that, I promise.

If you mention there’s a problem, chances are, there is. I will respond with questions. Be firm in your opinions: I’m asking because I want to understand. Beta-reading is a lot of effort, and I think the best way to make use of that effort is to examine what you say closely and make sure I understand it. We both have the same goal: to make the best book possible.


So that’s what I need. I’m looking for people who can finish book 2 by the end of the winter holidays, because when A Better Man is done with its big official copy-edit, it’s The Mercy of Men’s turn to go in. So by January 8th or so.

If you are interested, comment below, DM me on twitter, or hit me up with an email at shunternisbet [at] gmail.com. If you mention you’re interested but not sure, I can send you the first couple chapters and we can go from there. I’m look for three or four people, maybe a couple more.

Thanks for looking, and I hope to hear from you!

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