I feel terrible for having to lay this out there, but I'm a little frustrated following use of a beta reader service.
I received a beta report on time this past weekend, but didn't receive my full manuscript with inline notes until today. The manuscript is pretty big, so I was given a pretty hefty price on a custom offer.
My concern began with the initial report. There were a few statements in it that made me think they skimmed or skipped parts. I get the feeling that they hit the deadline without finishing and hurried on their report, then scrambled to get the manuscript back to me.
My dilemma is that the person was extremely nice, and many of their criticisms were quite in depth and helpful. But almost just as many were very clearly a result of them skimming/skipping.
As for skimming, there were many instances where the beta claimed they couldn't understand certain lines or characters because they hadn't been shown/described. One specifically cited confusion over use of a character's first name being used because they hadn't been introduced yet. The character was introduced by their full name one paragraph before that. There were quite a few instances of similar notes, such as requesting to see more of the magic system's uses, specifically citing cooking. There was a long scene halfway through the novel of a mage cooking using magic.
As for skipping, two of the most notable examples: First, that they thought I should cut POVs back, because some of their arcs didn't relate to the others. Opinions on that aside, each of them pursued the same antagonist and all of them either came together with or clashed over that antagonist by the end. Second, the beta kept repeating that they thought the number of POVs was too high. But the beta got the number wrong over and over. There was an additional POV snuck in toward the end of the novel.
Then I got the inline edits today. The beta skipped comments on massive sections of the manuscript pertaining to the POV they missed (and the other they said didn't interest them early on), which further fed into my suspicion. I should also add that many of the criticisms this reader had about the big picture (world building, description, etc.) were praised by another reader for how much of it I included and fleshed out.
I understand this from a free beta, I would count that as DNF, which would tell me I have a lot of work ahead of me. But what do you do in the case of a paid beta? Especially one that was fairly expensive?