Test screening is to films what beta reading is to books. In film, studies are being done on technology that can gauge a test screen audience’s neuro and biometric responses. Suffice it to say, when this technology proves viable, I will not be able to afford it. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t want a way to know which parts of my books make people laugh, cry, or want to throw their e-reader against the wall.
After I wrote my first book, I had a desperate yearning to find out if it was as funny as I thought it was, so I came up with a rudimentary DIY method for attaining similar results to what scientists are trying to achieve for the film industry. Here’s what I did:
I gave three of my betas the above legend and asked them to highlight passages that gave them more extreme emotional responses. This is more work for betas, so make it as easy as possible for them. If they prefer an electronic copy, put the legend in a separate document from the manuscript so they can toggle back and forth. If hard copies are their jam, give them physical highlighters and a printed legend.
Your results will never be as unbiased as those possible with a major film studio’s test screening, but if you try to find beta readers with little to no vested interest in your emotional well being (not family, not friends), the viability of your results will be better.
Have you ever used beta readers? What’s your process like? Please share in the comments.
This post is part of the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop. So many great blogs to keep hopping through. Click here to join the hop and to see what other writing tips you can glean from this month’s edition.