Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Getting feedback from kids

So my managing editor’s daughter, who is way cool, was in the office today. She has read some of my middle-grade manuscripts and is a big fan. I’ve loved talking to her about what she liked about the different manuscripts. One of the things she liked was how the chapters ended with cliff hangers and she just had to keep reading to find out what was going to happen. So that was cool. My young nephew also read these manuscripts and said the same thing. Maybe I should pull together a little reader advisory council comprised of kids in the appropriate age range to send my manuscripts and get feedback. What do you think? Don’t they do that with new toys and stuff? Bring kids in and have them “test” the toys and provide feedback? I know when a syndicate rep brings comics for me to consider buying for the newspaper, I send them to numerous people to get feedback (graphic artists, reporters, copy editors, etc.). I also bring them home for my son, a comics fan, to read. And I have to say that this has worked pretty well. There have been times when everyone has said, “You must get this comic,” and I have and it’s a big hit. So, why not a reader advisory council? Could be a lot of fun. Has anyone ever done this? If so, how has it worked?

1 comment:

  1. Hi Buffy,

    You asked for my comment on Twitter and rather than try in 140 characters, I thought I'd post my thoughts here--more space :).

    Comments from readers are a time-tested way that many writers use to test their novels. Most novelist have one beta reader and many have more than one. These authors trust their betas to give them good, honest feedback on all their WIPs.

    Most of my clients utilize betas and if they don't, I encourage them to do so. So this concept would not be to far afield from what others are already doing. This approach might also work better as some children tend to be brutally honest with their comments. So if you want to maximize what you receive from your beta readers, you should encourage them not to be nice just because you're an adult and they are children.

    On thing I would not do, however, is include the fact that your beta readers loved your book. This is sometimes a turnoff and might even cause a rejection before you can send a writing sample. Why is this? Because we hear this constantly from everyone and it usually goes something like this: "My entire family read my novel and loved it." or in the case of children's books, it goes like this: "I'm a teacher and I read my book to my class and everyone loved it."

    When I read this comment, I want to ask, "And what would you have done if little Johnny in the back row had said your book sucked?"

    Good luck with your idea. Sounds like a winner.