So, I’ve got a middle grade manuscript I’m getting ready for sending to my agent. I’ve had one adult beta reader go through it, and I’ve got another one taking a look as well as an online critique group. However, I haven’t forgotten the kids. My daughter and one of her friends have read through it, and I’ve got another couple of kids in the pipeline. Hmm… kids in the pipeline, maybe that isn’t the best expression.
In my case, I have it pretty easy. My daughter and son can help me find beta readers, but for people without kids in the right age range, I can see this being difficult. Without my kids’ help. I’ve recruited a friend’s kid, and I suppose I could see about kids in my extended family if I didn’t already have a good number.
I can’t expect kids to go into in-depth reviews, but they can definitely tell you if the story simply doesn’t work for the age group. I also like to directly ask if there was anything they didn’t like, so they can feel free to be critical. So far my manuscript, Dragonfire, seems to be doing okay.
Another thing they can tell you is if you’ve made some bad assumptions. For instance, when kids read my steampunk story, COG, I quickly discovered they didn’t know what an airship was. I had to beef up my descriptions to make it more clear what one looks like and how it works. I also beefed up my descriptions of pneumatic tubes, though I already kinda figured that wasn’t a kid-friendly reference.
It’s important not to forget your most important beta readers. What do kid beta readers tell you? How do you find them?