I grew up thinking research was a good thing. My dad has his own high tech research company in Northern California – Bowen Research – and the general thinking was: poll a group. One person is not enough. When I plunged into making my first feature film a few years ago, like the big movie guys, I brought together groups of people to see early cuts, gauge their reactions. More recently as a playwright, I thrive on the group dynamic of giving feedback. The theater company in New York City that I’ve been a part of for the past six years – InViolet Theater – develops their plays through many readings, workshops, and a version of feedback called Liz Lerman. I’ve developed all my plays through InViolet this way. Yet when I’m close to knowing if it’s really working, it will take a reading of the full play, in front of an audience, fresh ears, and then myself and the director will know it, feel it, if the play is working. The theater members hear every draft and give feedback to get it to the right place. But it’s those theater members who’ve never seen it who inform me if we’re in the right spot.

When it came to writing fiction – I wanted the same process. So after my first clunky draft of my first YA book – June Awakening – I pulled together a group of beta readers to give me feedback. After working with a writers group of three people I really trusted, it was strange to have fresh eyes on my manuscript. But it was illuminating. Your friends and family, writers group, these people will have a hard time telling you if the first ten pages hook them or if a character arc is really compelling. For friends and family, let’s face it, they are biased. For the writers group, they’ve lived with your writing and also lose that fresh perspective.

June Awakened

I’ve been developing my company BookHive Corp. as an organized beta reader editorial research platform for authors. Also, while I surely could get two to three new people to read my book, at BookHive we strive to pull together eight to ten targeted beta readers to give feedback. Personally, I like the feedback of that number of people. Even from when we soft launched in January 2015, from the books we’ve tested so far, we are seeing strong consistencies in the feedback. My rule of thumb is, if three or more beta readers comment on an issue, or praise something, it’s something for the author to take a look at. We’re at the beginning stages of building BookHive – but I’m excited to report more on what I find during my process!

BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors. Enjoy our latest coupon code BUZZ for $100 off. www.bookhivecorp.com


Written by Jennifer Bowen

Jennifer Bowen hails from a family business of research and has always considered it valuable. After working on her first YA book, she yearned for feedback from teenage readers, and the idea for BookHive and an organized beta reader process was born. As QueenBee of BookHive (more fun than CEO) she has attended the San Francisco Writers Conference, the Boston Book Fair, and The New York Self-Publishing Conference. BookHive was also selected to attend Startup Alley at the Book Expo of America in 2015, as "One of Twenty Startups to Watch."

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