Friday, October 5, 2012

Focus Groups: The True Peanut Gallery Critique

I have authors who show up with their manuscripts in hand and eagerly tell me things about why it's so great based on ... their home-grown peanut gallery. I like to call well-meaning friends and parents the peanut gallery. The peanut gallery tells the aspiring author they are going to be the next bestseller. Of course, they do! They love the author. Most friends and family aren't going to say something like, "Well, this is terrible." To bolster their positions even more, they will seek out other "more qualified" spectators to validate their absolute certainty that the New York Times best-seller list is within their reach with this masterpiece. They will find the local librarian or maybe some friend who writes articles. Then they will come to us and say, "Not only do my friends, family and loved ones think it's going to be a bestseller, but also Mary the local librarian loved it."

All right my beloved and aspiring authors, here is what you really need to do to get an honest perspective and feedback on your book. You put a little money where your passion is and you organize a focus group. You pay each person something like $25, give him or her the manuscript and a survey, and then send him or her off to read. Choose at least 5-10 people you solicit off social media or friends of friends. Do not ask your nearest and dearest (they're are biased, period). And when the solicited feedback comes back in, don't go ape over what they say if it's not what you expected. Take it as important and valuable input you paid for. Some of it may, in fact, be ridiculous or off-base. Regardless, read it with an open heart. And most importantly the information that resonates and makes sense accept it. Your book will be much more likely to be successful if you put your ego aside and open your mind and make the changes.

1 comment:

  1. There are also bloggers who will review it for free. We were just talking about all of this on G+ and how indie publishers are networking and bartering for services.