Kid Beta Readers

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.kidbeta

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?

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2 Responses to Kid Beta Readers

  1. Mirka Breen says:

    Such an important detail, having the intended audience have a go at our work. I get to this part only after my two grown-up betas have had their turn. But kid-readers, more than anything else, will tell if a story held their interest, or not. No faking that.

  2. I didn’t originally intend on using kid beta readers. While it can be helpful sometimes it can turn you in the wrong direction. Just like adult critique partners you have to find the right kid beta readers too.

    Despite not originally intending to use kid beta readers, when a friend said his 12 y/o daughter would probably enjoy my book, I passed it on. When I got the feedback from the friend’s daughter he apologized and said I’m sorry it’s not very helpful, her comments are absolutely glowing. When I opened up her comments I realized that in between some of the “glowing” remarks were some really helpful comments. Her comments far from implied that my book was perfect as her dad had implied from reading them. In fact, what she picked up on was pretty enlightening. She helped confirm some of my suspicions about the book. She was also very intelligent and used words that I didn’t even know at her age. So don’t by any means underestimate your target audience. Kids can be really perceptive and often blunt and to the point, but you have to go into their feedback the same way you’d consider any other critique partner’s comments. Just because they are your target audience doesn’t mean you should give them any more (or less) weight than your other critique partners. Kids will often provide you a different angle of feedback for sure, but as with any critique you have to use what resonates with you.

    Thanks for posting on this topic. It’s definitely an interesting one :)

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