BookHive is still in a soft launch phase as a company. We just ‘opened the gates’ (or half way – sort of – you get it) last June. In the last year we’ve tested ten books and each process has taught me a little something about what we do (and how to do it better), what writers want to accomplish, and how helpful the Test Reader feedback truly is. As a writer myself, I have a tendency to look at all life experiences in terms of metaphor. So as I lay down to sleep one night this week, I thought of my experience at the Boston Book Fair in terms of the writing process, as well as the Test Reader experience.

Book Fair Vendor Virgin

Our cool signage! #word

What is she talking about?? Good question. These are vague flashes of experience, but here it is, what I feel today. Life is both exhilarating (i.e.: wonderful, beautiful, surprising) and also terrifying (i.e.: disappointing, bewildering, knocks-you-in-the-teeth sometimes.) Thus is writing, thus is reading.


Boston Book Festival

Right before I heard Susan Minot speak as the Fiction Key Note Speaker. #ThirtyGirls

I’ve never been a vendor at something like a fancy shmancy Book Fair before. As a perfectionist (recovering…) I like things to go smoothly. But it’s impossible to know what’s to come when you’ve never done something before. I looked at the other tables and thought maybe we lacked a little table flair (nothing vertical! everything is flat on the table! oh no!) Also when launching something new like what BookHive is doing, it takes convincing, explaining, and there’s that gnawing worry – will I do a good enough job? do I have what it takes? do I seem smart, warm, friendly, not too pushy, compelling?

This unknown reminds me of when a reader picks up a book – what will they find? will it be any good? what journey are they going to go on? At BookHive we look for open minded readers who will take a brand new book and ride it through to the other side. They may sign up and find the book is not what they thought it would be. Or, they may be blown away about how drawn into the story they were from the first ten pages. Over time, our Test Readers will hopefully understand that they are reading books that are in different developmental stages, that they may be reading a first draft or the tenth draft, but that they too are jumping into the unknown.

The same is true for the writer too when they sit down to start a new project. At one of the panel discussions at the Boston Book Fair that I attended featuring Middle Grade fantasy writers, there was a variety of points of view on outlining before writing. About half of the writers loved it, insisted on it, while the other half found their story while writing it. Even with an outline, the unknown and mystery is great when starting a new project. Some writers can never get beyond an outline since the fear is too great – will what they write be any good? will it make sense? should they stop now before the ship crashes into the rocks and splits into a million pieces?

As the day progressed, the beauty and the hope started to trickle in. I saw it in the eyes of some of the Test Readers I met at the booth who seemed super psyched to work with us. I saw it in the acknowledgement of some of the writers that I met that they could use an unbiased, outside eye on their work. And even little old me starting to get my bearings! By the end of the day I had my three line pitch down of what BookHive offers. I felt grateful, too, at some of the questions I fielded from potential Test Readers and Authors. When not pushed to grow, we become stagnant. Jumping into the unknown can be terrifying, but when you come out from the other side, having read the best book of your life, or getting that draft finally where it needs to be, it can be oh-so-wonderful too.

Plus, we had candy at the booth. That helps bolster courage and joy all around.

CandyAlways Helps

#CandyAlways Helps

BookHive offers focus group research for Authors with actual Test Readers.
For more information, check out our website:

And a special thanks to the Boston Book Fair for making me a Vendor Virgin no more!


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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