Friday, July 1, 2011

Target Audience Crits

Hey guys.

Up until recently, I always had my YA writing beta-ed and critted by fellow writers, ones that usually read a lot of YA and were deep into the writing process themselves.

This past week, I had my YA manuscript beta-ed by three teens. My 13 year-old nephew, and two teenage girls, aged (I think) 15 and 14.

When their emails showed up in my box, I was just as nervous as when an agent's email shows up.

Will they hate it? Will they think my writing is stinkier than a dead fish? Oh, the stress!

Luckily, the feedback was positive, and I was thrilled. It was an entirely different kind of validation than what I've received from my writing peers.

How about you? Have you had your work read by non-writing members of your target audience?

And on one last note, I'll be on a blogging vacation all of next week. Have a great 4th of July, and see you later!

53 comments:

Andrea Mack said...

I usually get my two daughter's to read it...and they are not shy about telling me what doesn't work! It is great to get the perspective of someone in your target audience.

mooderino said...

I have one non-writer I don't mind forcing to read my story, but I try to leave it until the last possible draft so at least it's quite polished. Most people I know would agree to do it but never get round to it. Maybe that will change as ereaders become more common.

mood
Moody Writing
@mooderino

salarsenッ said...

Having a beta within your target audience is a great tool. For an opinion/edits on the techniques of my manuscript (structure, character development, grammar, etc...) I like to have YA writers who read a ton beta for me. But I'm fortunate enough to have a few teens willing. Their perspective is more story orientated, which is so nice. Basically - is it a good story?

Donna K. Weaver said...

I do generally. If someone doesn't like the genre, it's tough on them to help you out. Like my son who's not into romantic suspense trying to give me feedback. That really was kind of funny.

Christine Danek said...

Not yet, but I hope to have some teens read my stuff. I think they would be able to see things other writers don't.
HAve a wonderful week!

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Have a great week next week. Look forward to your return.
Happy 4th July.

Yvonne.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

It wasn't until my second manuscript that I picked up actual critique partners, but I did use test readers for both.

Miranda Hardy said...

That is an awesome idea! I planned on doing the same thing, as well as some fellow authors. I'm lucky to have a teenage daughter. Have a great 4th!

B.E. Sanderson said...

I've had lots of non-writers read for me. Sometimes I think writers almost have to use people who don't write - because the non-writers don't know all 'the rules'. They're just reading for entertainment and maybe can provide a little insight on writerly things - like general proofreading, flow, voice, etc. The things that jerk a non-writer out of a story can really show you what needs work.

Elouise82 said...

I usually have a couple of non-writers (one a librarian, which is nice because she sees what readers keep coming back to) look at my work, but I've never been able to find an actual teen. I'm thinking my cousin, who just turned eighteen and is whip-smart, might be a good one to ask for this next one. He certainly would be the one to see all its flaws!

Cherie Reich said...

I have my 16-year-old sister read my YA material. She loves to read, but she's also rather picky, and I tell her to be honest. So far, so good, though.

I do think it's great to allow a few people of your target audience to read your work.

Karen Lange said...

Congrats on the positive reviews! That's great. :) Haven't had my WIP read by any betas yet. Hope to soon.

Have a great week off!

lbdiamond said...

Congrats on getting such great feedback! It's SO validating.

Hmmm, yeah, I think I need to get some teens to read mine. Thanks for planting a great idea, Lydia!

Rachna Chhabria said...

Congrats on the positive reviews, Lydia. My niece has read two chapters of my current WIP and she does not shy from getting brutal. So far she has no complaints,the only grouse she has is, that's its too long.

Carol Kilgore said...

I shared my first three chapters with a few non-writers in my target audience. It was an uplifting experience.

Enjoy your vacation - Happy 4th!

JEM said...

I've never thought of that, but it's a cool idea. Did you get helpful feedback as well?

T C Mckee said...

I'm hoping to find a few teens willing to do this for me. The few I've found who read aren't interested unless you have a really cool cover on it. Can't have one of those without the process. Tough group.

E. Arroyo said...

I've had two teen nieces read it but pulling something helpful other than I loved it is like pulling teeth. I really have to find some other teen betas. ☺

Lydia K said...

Jem, I did get helpful feedback. The two girls both had a problem with a world-building item they couldn't visualize well, but all my crit partners had been fine with it. That was a surprise. Also, there was a fair bit of technical science in it, and again, most of my crit partners have some kind of science background, so it was good to know I had the right balance of making it accessible without "dumbing it down," so to speak.

Tracey Neithercott said...

It's times like these when I wish I knew some teens!

Glad to hear their reviews were glowing. It's interesting to find out what they thought was confusing—and probably really helpful.

ensouling said...

Yup, I sure do. I have both writers and non-writers read manuscripts. I even give them red pens. ;)

Chris Phillips said...

I've used teachers and parents of my targeted age range as crits, but never kids. Writers give better insights, whether right or wrong, and have a better idea of what agents will vibe with or not. Have a good break (lazy)
Can't believe they're letting the townsfolk have fireworks in city limits this year.

Chris Phillips said...

I've used teachers and parents of my targeted age range as crits, but never kids. Writers give better insights, whether right or wrong, and have a better idea of what agents will vibe with or not. Have a good break (lazy)
Can't believe they're letting the townsfolk have fireworks in city limits this year.

D. U. Okonkwo said...

That's a super good idea if you can do it. After all, it was the enthusiam of a small child that turned JK. Rowling's life around :o)

Mohamed Mughal said...

Enjoy the blogging vacation!

Unfortunately, I can't seem to categorize my writing into any particular genre (sad, isn't it?), and so, can't really ID appropriate beta readers...unless you consider slightly neurotic introverts a legitimate group of beta readers...in which case, I'll find some.

Happy 4th!

Heather said...

I haven't and I would love to! I think it's a fantastic idea. Only then can we truly know if it will work for the intended audience. I'd be nervous too! That's fantastic that your feedback was great!

erica and christy said...

I have a 14-year-old neice who reads almost non-stop, but I'm sure she would never say anything bad about a book, especially one by her aunt, so I've never asked her. I can see how it could be valuable if you had the right reader.
erica

notesfromnadir said...

It's wonderful to read that your core group has in a sense approved your book.

It's important to have a variety of people look at your ms. Usually these people are natural readers. If you can convince a non-reader to take a look at it you should be golden!

Alleged Author said...

The ms I'm shopping around was read by a ton of seventh graders (kids I tutor). They liked it quite a bit and even gave suggestions on how to make it creepier. :P

Madeline Bartos said...

Sounds like a great idea! I am a teen writer, so I am my audience. I'm sure my friends would be more than happy to beat for me.

Krispy said...

I have a few friends who aren't writers but who are avid readers, so they'll read my stuff. I think it's a pretty good idea though to run it by your target audience and see if it appeals. :)

Happy Fourth! Enjoy your vacay!!!

Old Kitty said...

What a great way to test your wip!! Well done you for getting back such wonderful feedback too! My most virulent and helpful CPs are non-writers and I rely on them alot with my stories.

Have a wonderful break!!!!! See you soon! Take care
x

Munk said...

My biggest thrill as a writer might have been when my niece started sharing my MS with her friends before asking me for permission.

Suze said...

Brilliant move, Lydia. It makes perfect sense. And I'm so glad the feedback was positive.

Connie said...

Yes, I do have target readers read my novels. But I also have beta readers who are writers of different genres read my novels. I really like it because they bring their genres' strengths to beta-reading my book and I really like that. It helps me see things that I might miss.

alexia said...

Yes, if family counts. My brutally honest 9 year old loves the MG book I'm writing, so I guess that's good :)

Clarissa Draper said...

All I can say is, I'm glad I don't write YA! I would hate a child to tell me they didn't like my book. For some reason, critiques from adults seem better.

Liza said...

I have only just begun sharing my work with ANY audience. I've just joined a writing group of novice writers and we are all learning what it is like to be critiqued...how weird am I that I like it?

Lydia K said...

I love hearing all these comments! Thank you guys for the thoughts and I will be by to visit after next week...but in the meantime, I apologize if I don't get a chance to get to your blogs. Vacation is calling!

Ghenet Myrthil said...

I'd love to have some teens read my work. That's great your teen betas had positive feedback for you.

Have a fun week off! :)

Nas Dean said...

Have a great vacation, we'll miss you!

Jonene Ficklin said...

Woohoo! Now that's validation - especially when two were teens you didn't know. Have a great vacation this week!

Lisa Gail Green said...

I would like to do this, unfortunately I'm not sure I can find anyone. My nieces and nephews are just a tad too old now!

Matthew MacNish said...

Just my kid. But I intend to have her friends read it too, eventually, once it's ready.

Olga said...

I hope you have a great time on your vacation from blogging :) We will miss you.

Misha said...

Not at this time, although I definitely want teens to help with the beta process later on.

:-)

Solvang Sherrie said...

I write mg so I read aloud to my kids. I can always tell when they lose interest so I know what needs work :)

M Pax said...

Some. Not the entire ms. Not yet. Need to find some of those kinds of betas.

Have a great vacaction :D

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

I just had someone from my target audience read my work in progress and I'm so glad I did! Her perspective was unique and perfect. Why didn't I think to do this before now???

Have a great vacation!

Leslie Rose said...

I'm lucky to have a range of beta readers from Jr. High through college. Their comments are often surprising and have an interesting relevancy. I do break out in a sweat when they're notes are incoming. Have a nice blogcation.

Carol Riggs said...

Good for you--how brave! Super that they liked it; no wonder you were nervous though. I would be too! Nope, I only have other writers for my betas and readers. And now, my agent. But I figure my agent and eventual editor are the ones I have to please, because a)they pay the $$, and b)they should be aware of what sells and what teens supposedly read/like.

Rachel Brooks said...

That's great that you were able to receive feedback from betas that are part of your target audience! My manuscript was read by two critique partners who are fellow writers and one beta who is part of my target audience. They all had wonderful feedback that was extremely helpful.

It's so important to have people read your work, even though it can be intimidating as a new writer. Their feedback really does make a world of difference.

A.G. Wright said...

Great idea - excellent way to get "true" feedback from our targeted audience!

 
ALL CONTENT © 2012 THE WORD IS MY OYSTER / BLOG DESIGN © 2012 SMITTEN BLOG DESIGNS