Many of us use Beta readers – other writers, friends and family members… but do you get your target audience to scrutinize your work?
Upon completing the ‘reader-ready’ version of a manuscript, wanting to get some feedback and assistance in editing, storyline and characters, many of us give our baby of blood, sweat and tears to someone to read. Usually it is a family member or close friend, and for others, it is a colleague within the field of writing to get some constructive criticism. It can be a nerve-racking or pleasant experience depending on who you give it to, and what their impression on your work is. Some of us don’t even use Beta readers, but I like to gauge the reaction of a few readers before I hand my draft to the editors and publishers. Being so close to your plot and characters for so long, it is quite often that there is something simple you miss, and a fresh set of eyes can be your saving grace.
I have two groups of readers I sample my writing on: friends I can rely on to give an honest critique and some fellow writers; and my target audience. There have been some posts on Beta readers discussing wether writers use them or not, and even what questions to ask to help gain valuable insight. Although, I haven’t seen a lot of talk on choosing your target market to offer their two cents.
Keeping a large portion of my recreational reading within the genre in which I write, not only to keep in touch with what’s happening in the industry, but to stay in tune with the voices of today’s popular culture. I write YA, and it’s been waaay (*cough*) too many years since I squeaked in rubber soled Converse down the concrete halls of a High School as a student. So how could I possible think that my scribblings relate to any pubescent reader? I research, I observe, I chat… and then pray my words stir their minds and souls. Even though I consider myself a mature, professional woman, there is still that insecure fourteen year old girl romping around in my head, fangirling, squealing, swooning and the occasional, ‘like..ew!’ So I have a small network of avid readers from fourteen to twenty that keep my finger on the pulse (and keep me young – and sometimes feeling positively ancient).
It has yielded fantastic results for me. Not only has it challenged my writing style, but also improved the complexity in plots throughout the novels. They challenge my use in language and demand more interesting characters… and I can’t thank them enough. Their feedback has made it possible to reach out and grab my dream of being an author. Otherwise I may still be banging away at the computer, churning out pages and pages of prose that would never see the light of day.
Now I wonder how many of us test our products on the very people we want to sell to? It makes sound business sense right? We’re road testing our product, and when some of us are putting years into a single manuscript, you want to be sure that we get something back. Yes, we may write for love and entertainment, but isn’t it also for the love and entertainment of others? A little research into who is going to read our book, how it is they buy their books and where they buy them from – all of this is invaluable information to keep in mind. For those of you who use social media to market your wares, why not use it to have a conversation with your followers: create a poll to garner statistics on where they spend their money. The more information and feedback you have, the better you can be in control of your destiny as an author.
Please like, share and comment below – I’d love to hear what you do to have your book ready before publication.
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