A dream is coming true for me this month. I finished writing a middle grade sci-fi novel (Hooray!) and my first beta reader this time around is my firstborn son. When my boys were little, I wrote and illustrated a few pictures books for them and I loved it when they asked me to “read it again, Mom”. When they got a little older, I’d watch them reading a novel and dream of them reading a book that I wrote. That dream is coming true because I printed out my novel, put it in a binder, and I’m watching my son read it.
I’ve had wonderful beta readers (mostly my parents, sister, and a few friends) for my other novels, but this is the first time one of my boys is reading one of my books. (They’ve all skim read the Sex Soup and Two Fisted Eating books looking for my cartoons, but this time there’s no pictures so it counts more.)
My eldest son is 12 years old: he is my target audience and he’s painfully honest with me so I know I can trust his opinion. (Example: “No offense, Mom, but this dinner doesn’t taste good.” Any time my boys start a sentence with “No offense, Mom…”, I brace my ego.)
I might ask my son if I can reach out to some of his friends and get their feedback as well. Can you get in trouble for peddling unpublished novels? “Come on, kid, try it, you’ll like it.”
Here are a few things I ask my beta readers:
What did you like about the book?
What did you not like?
Did you like the protagonist? Why?
Were there any parts that confused you or knocked you out of the story?
Are there any story lines that I didn’t wrap up? Any promises made (hints of things to come, ideas planted, conflicts set up, etc) in the beginning that I didn’t follow through on?
I’m working on the sequel, so I’ll also ask a few questions about what they would like to see happen next.
Are you writing for someone special? Who are your beta readers and how did you find them?
Image courtesy of: space.com and myself (you guess which photo goes with which source 😉