Sunday, May 19, 2013

Things I Have Learned From My First Set Of Beta Readers For Nerissa MacKay

One of my WsIP, The (Dis)Appearance of Nerissa MacKay, is at the beta reading stage.  Thus, I got 4 copies from createspace, and fixed up 3 of them with special pens and a few instructions for my junior high school readers.  Then I let them at it, with up to 4 kids reading each copy of the book at different times during the day and color-coding their responses.
I expected to learn their thoughts on how real some of the minor characters sounded and for them to help me make improvements.  I expected them to tell me which parts seemed skimpy or vague.  I'm getting none of this.
Instead, what I have learned so far is this:

1) This book is not geared toward 7th graders, as I had thought.  Even though the protagonist is 14, which, following the YA rule, means the intended audience should be 12-ish, and even though the book is written in the same style as the Half-Vampire books, the 7th graders aren't getting it.  They don't get that the narrator is imperfect and slightly neurotic.  They don't get why there's a playlist for every chapter.  They don't get the connection between her clothes, her music, her sense of self, and her teen angst.
2) The 9th graders, however, DO get what's going on.  And they think it's funny.
3) Text speak is no longer used.  Kids can't even read the text speak I used, which was based on what kids used 2 years ago when I started the book.  Okay.  Easy fix there.
4) No one is paying any attention to the secondary characters.  And they are sympathizing with the antagonists far too much.  I must make the antagonists more hatable.

Apparently, I'm going to have to get some adult beta readers to go over this for help on those dang minor characters.


  1. Tyler replied by tweet:

    Tyler Adams ‏@JTylerAdams 7h
    @lisamshafer I am not an adult but I would love to help if you think that I am capable.

  2. Brings back memories of when I wrote my Black Lake series. Intended for MG...(never got a MG reader to beta)...but the adults around me is great for 'me'

    1. Yeah, I kinda figured I was not alone in this experience.

  3. Wow, that is some very interesting feedback.