You’ve finished your first, second, third and however many you need drafts. You’ve edited and re-edited your book with help from resources like this book and this book. Now it’s time to share your work with others and see what they think.
But how can you make sure you’re getting great feedback on your YA manuscript? We’ve put together a list of strategies so you get the best comments from your beta-readers.
Ask for specific feedback
Are you worried about the pace of your novel? Ask your readers to pay attention to that. Do you feel unsure about your main character’s arc? Tell your readers to look out for it. Giving readers specific items to focus on can help them zero in on your concerns and give them things to look out for that you’re worried about.
Some questions to get started:
- Were there any points you felt confused or bored? Any places where you were absorbed or couldn’t put it down?
2. Does the dialogue flow?
3. Would this story be better in first/second/third person? What about past or present tense?
4. Show them your pitch. Does the story align with their expectations from the pitch?
5. Are there any obvious gaps in the story or questions you feel were left unanswered?
The Highlighter method
Give your reader a short piece of text like a chapter or section and have them highlight any place they feel lost. They don’t need to explain what’s wrong–just highlight it. If you do this with a few areas and you find overlap in highlighted areas, you know those are parts of the story you should really work on.
Find the right readers
Having the right feedback partner is huge for getting good feedback. Join a writing community, whether in your local neighborhood or online. Libraries and community centers often have writer’s groups to check out, and meetup.com is filled with writing groups. It’s a matter of finding the right one.
Use your manuscript as a text for a course
If you take an online course, submit your manuscript to get feedback from your peers or professors.
Make sure all feedback is contained in one document
Your feedback partners may be tempted to send you their notes on messenger or text, but it helps to have all feedback consolidated into one document. Make sure they can comment on a Google doc, but if they have an edit letter, all comments should go on one document. That way, it’s easier to go through each edit. Otherwise, you might miss important feedback.
What’s next? Write out your list of questions. Choose different readers to focus on different topics. Ask them how they like to give (and receive!) feedback–and communicate. Of all these tips, communicating with your readers about your expectations and what you’re looking for in a critique is one of the best ways to get the level of feedback you are looking for.