September 9, 2012

Book Focus Groups: ROW80 Update

Have you ever participated in a focus group?

You know the kind I'm talking about. One of those "try this yogurt and tell me what you really think" groups where they pay you to try several yogurts and give your honest opinion.

Or, have you heard about the test groups that get blamed for movies getting a new ending? (By the way, how do you get in one of those? There's a group I'd be interested in.)

I've decided it would be interesting to have a blind focus group for my book's rough draft. People who don't know me, or any other books I've written. I know, what about beta readers? Yep, I want them as well. But, I also think a group of "blind" readers (chosen of course based on my target audience for age and genre) would be beneficial. Especially with a list of questions...

1) Who is your favorite character and why?
2) Which character do you not like and why?
3) What do you think of the ending?
4) At what page did you feel the story grabbed you?
5) Was there a "lull" at any point in the book?
6) What was the most memorable section of story?

I wonder why we don't hear of this kind of group, especially in the big publishing houses. A book that comes out with a "test audience recommendation." Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't be thrilled about rewriting an ending or a character, but if enough people had the same feedback, it would be worth it.


My A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80) Update

Writing: Slow and steady wins the race, right? I'm keeping with my time commitment, but it's not producing as many words as I would like. I'm sticking to it, and I hope the structure will encourage the words to flow.

Editing: Just like with reading, I find it hardest to get started on a new story. There's so much to learn about a new book, you really know little to nothing about characters, story, setting, etc. I find it hard to get my head into it at first. But, I finished up one project last week and finished a first edit on another... one I'm so excited to see come out!

Reading: I'm currently reading Anne Lamott's Blue Shoe. I was excited to read another Lamott after reading and enjoying her craft book, Bird by Bird. I'm finding the slow start a bit rough, but I trust Lamott enough to keep going. I wonder, though, if I had no relationship with this author, would I continue? Hmmm. If I was reading it in a blind test group...

Social Media: Did better the last few days, but I'm still trying to claw my way out of a very deep hole. Part of my problem, I feel the need to comment so people know I was there, but that takes a lot more effort than simply reading a post.

Blogging: So far, I'm keeping with the BlogHer daily challenge. 9 days and counting.

I hope all my ROW80 buds are doing well!


Michael said...

I think you're right about the blind test group, though it may be more difficult to set one up for novels. At least with yogurt-testers, they're able to give their opinions right away. Readers would need some time to form their opinions unless simply reading a short selection.

Still, that could be an interesting service for writers. I was a part of a group over at for a while, and they provided some great feedback from people I didn't know at all.

Might be worth checking out.

Jo Michaels said...

I know of a number of websites where you can get a blind test group going. They would be called beta readers in that situation but if you don't know them it's the same thing, right? LOL! I dunno...

This is a thought-provoking post. I shall consider it more over the next week.


Unknown said...

While I like the idea of the blind test reader group, there is one gaping flaw with such a group. Movie watching groups and yogurt-testing groups cannot steal the product they are testing. It's easy to eliminate any recording of a movie, and unlikely anyone could reverse-engineer the formula for food, but giving someone the text of a novel would be extremely difficult to control. Because of the length of time necessary to read it, they would have to receive either a hardcopy (which they could copy) or a digital version (which would be easy to save.)

I'm not saying this is impossible, but you would have to really think it through to make sure that your original work doesn't end up stolen.

Tia Bach said...

Thanks for the feedback, Jo & Michael.

Mike, Good point, one I honestly did not consider.