Who we are
The three of us, Andrew and Pam Burleson, and Paul Kilpatrick, used to live two blocks apart in Raleigh, NC - though now it's a bit farther (2800 miles). Andrew and Paul almost stopped being friends because they decided to play a full season of Risk legacy. Paul and Pam share a birthday and have ended up celebrating together almost every year, even though they are coasts apart. Andrew and Pam have been married 11 years, they moved to San Francisco in 2016, and they have 3 daughters.
A little about Pam. She's a musician: singer, piano and penny whistle dabbler, and professional French horn player. She played with the North Carolina Symphony for 5 years and taught for a bit at UNC before moving to San Francisco to pursue full-time motherhood. She knows about making a career as an artist: creating, crafting, persisting in the face of rejection, collaborating and connecting, all of that. She is currently writing her first book and reads Sanderson novels in the 5 minute gaps she can find throughout the day (it takes a VERY long time to finish one of his books when reading this way).
A little about Andrew. He’s a computer programer, and is currently a Senior Engineering Manager at Atlassian. He’s an Aggie, Whoop! He’s also invested in improving the infrastructure of modern cities as a board member of Strong Towns. He has written a novella, another novel twice and is mostly through another. He also writes short stories, just for grins.
A little about Paul. He lives in Raleigh. He works as an actor and on film crews. His first grown-up job was as a comics editor (there’s a funny statement). He’s edited all kinds of writing. He’s an encourager, but won’t hesitate to tell you hard truths. He likes to work at music festivals and conventions (currently Moogfest, Hopscotch and Oak City ComicCon). He has written and produced plays, sketches, and two performance installations. He wrote his first novella last November.
How BetaBooks began
In spring 2016, Andrew wrote his first novel and wanted to beta it, so he sent emails to a bunch of his friends, family, and writing partners. That is when he encountered his:
First Beta Woe
I can’t open this file. Can you resend it in format X?
One of those people who he asked to read was Paul. Though Paul had no trouble opening the file he did NOT immediately jump in and start reading. Paul had summer reading for a course he was taking and had promised himself he would read *no fiction* until he was done with his assigned reading. This revealed to Andrew his:
Second Beta Woe.
How can I tell if people are actually reading my book?
Andrew started getting emails full of fantastic feedback from his beta readers. Sometimes he could jump right in and make changes, but other times he read that feedback in passing or on his phone. That’s when he encountered his:
Third Beta Woe.
Hunting for who left that one comment I really need right now that I read last week.
Andrew did what most of us have done: spent time searching through his emails and re-reading, digging for that one particular piece of feedback he was trying to remember, growing frustrated with the wasted time that could have been spent writing. Still he persevered and refined his manuscript and began to send out changed chapters. His awesome readers then sent back new feedback and he refined further that is when he encountered his:
Fourth Beta Woe.
What freaking version have these people read?!
So Andrew, a programmer and problem solver, started imagining what could be done to make things better. So when Paul asked him, "How is your beta going anyway?”
Andrew launched into a lengthy description of all the beta woes. Finally he sighed and shook his head. “It makes me want to write an app to fix all this. I’d call it BetaBooks.”
“That’s a great idea,” said Paul, feeling clever. “Such a good idea, that I refuse to read your book until I can read it in BetaBooks!”
Andrew frowned. “I really set myself up for that, didn’t I?”
And Paul smiled, certain that he’d bought himself the summer at least.
“Tell you what,” Andrew said. “I’ll never get it done if I work on it solo. Let’s do it together, I can write the code and you can do everything else.”
Paul and Andrew have been partners since then, with Pam cheering and supporting behind the scenes. In January 2020, the three of us decided Pam would take the helm, and that's how things stand today.