How to Get Early Feedback on Your Book Idea or Manuscript

get early feedback on your book manuscript

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How do you know if your book idea or manuscript is publication ready or publication worthy? You can gather reader feedback on your manuscript before you to print. If you want to produce a successful book, this might be the most valuable step you take prior to going to press. You can obtain this feedback in a variety of ways depending upon how you choose to write your manuscript.

In fact, you can even get early feedback before you write your book. This type of test marketing can save you a lot of time and energy spent producing a manuscript that might never sell.

The goal of obtaining early reader feedback on your book idea or manuscript is simple: Incorporate the valid suggestions you receive to help you craft the best possible book.

The following five strategies provide you with the means to get beta readers or reviewers for your ideas and your work. Each has a different set of benefits, and each is useful at a different stage. Choose one that suits your style, your point in the book-production process and the work at hand.

1. Blog Your Book

The main benefit of blogging a book, purposefully writing your book post by post on your site, comes from the author platform you build by doing so. As you produce the first draft of your book on the Internet, you gain loyal blog readers and subscribers. They represent your potential book readers or buyers even though they have already “bought into” reading the first draft of your book—your blogged book.

Your blogged-book readers are highly likely to engage with you and your book. They might leave you comments about your book—especially if you ask them for feedback in a call to action at the end of each post. They also might provide you with their experiences—anecdotes you can use (with permission) in the final version of your book. All of this information can be used to improve (or to write) your manuscript.

If your blog readers don’t leave comments (or if they do), you can poll or survey them. Ask pointed questions about what works or does not work in your book and what they would like to see more or less of. They will be happy to tell you what you’ve left out, how you need to improve your manuscript, and what they like or dislike.

Additionally, your blog statistics program gives you targeted information on what parts of your book are well received—or not received at all. You can watch as your unique-visitor, page-view and time-on-site statistics go up and down based on what you write and publish on your blog. For example, you might notice that when you published the ten blog posts that comprised a particular chapter you had fewer readers than when you published the posts that comprised other chapters. A drop in readership is a clear indication that that chapter was not a big hit with your readers, and you need to take another look at it prior to publication.

A blogged book is a test-marketing experiment. If your book idea is a good one, and if you carry it out well, your traffic grows. If you haven’t targeted your market or written your manuscript well, you won’t find a readership. Either way, you discover if you have a marketable book idea.

2. Blog on the Topic of Your Book

If the idea of blogging your book doesn’t appeal to you, blog about the subject of your book instead. This strategy provides another way to test market your book idea.

Based on unique-visitors, page-view, and time-on-site statistics, you can determine if anyone in your target market has an interest in your book’s topic. Look at individual blog posts to see which subjects have the most interest to your readers; as you write your manuscript, focus on these.

Again, you can evaluate reader comments and use them to help you decide how to write your book and what to include in your manuscript. You also can employ polls and surveys to get specific feedback from your blog readers about what they might want to read in a book on the same topic as your blog.

If your site grows quickly—if you gain many unique visitors and subscribers and your readers are engaged (respond to your posts with comments)—you have the knowledge you need! Write a book that’s similar to your blog! (You may even be able to “book your blog” by repurposing some of the content you have already published.)

Your loyal blog readers can serve as early readers of your work as well. Select a small group to become beta readers for your manuscript. They will be thrilled to give you feedback. Then incorporate this into your work in progress.

3. Ask Beta Readers for Feedback

The classic way to get early feedback on a book idea or manuscript involves asking a select group of people to read your manuscript and offer suggested improvements. This group of readers receive a “beta” or early version of your manuscript, which may be your final version prior to sending it to an editor or press. However, it’s still a beta—untried—version. The beta readers “test it” by reading the manuscript. Then they tell you if it has any glitches or bugs. They also tell you what parts work well.

Like blogged book readers, beta users have a huge amount of buy-in to your book. After all, they’ve had a sneak peak! Therefore, they are likely to purchase the book once released and to provide reviews of your book either before or after release.

Note: The next two strategies apply only to nonfiction books.

4. Use Your Manuscript as the Text for a Course

If you offer online courses, or if you plan to provide a course related to your book, obtain early feedback on your manuscript from course registrants. To do this, make your draft manuscript required reading for the program. Stipulate in the registration documentation that those in the course must give revision notes on the course “text.”

Those who use a book—or a manuscript—as a resource in a learning environment tend to put the information to use. They study your words. They complete the exercises. They consider all your suggestions and act upon many of them. Therefore, these early provide valuable and applicable suggestions for manuscript improvement.

Like other types of beta readers, your students are inclined to provide you with book reviews or blurbs.

5. Use a Course as the Basis of a Book

You also can reverse the process posed in the previous strategy. In this case, you run a course to determine if anyone in your target market has an interest in your book idea. You don’t provide a beta version of your manuscript but rather ask students (if any enroll) what they would want to see in a book on the same topic as the course. Or ask for feedback on the course content, which, hopefully, you modeled after your book idea.

With your student’s suggestions in mind, write your book. Then use strategy #3 or #4 to get additional feedback once you complete the manuscript. If you opt to use strategy #4, include your new manuscript as the text for the course.

If you have trouble getting people enrolled in your course, you probably don’t want to pursue this particular book idea. Lack of registration equates to a failed test-marketing experiment.

Of course, you can work with a book coach, who will provide feedback as you write. Their opinions, while professional, are not the same as those that come from true readers, though, like those you would find reading your blogged book or taking a course on the same topic.

Pick the strategy that works best you and your project. If you are just starting out and have not written a word, test your idea with a course, a blogged book or a blog. If you have a manuscript, give it to beta readers, blog about your book, or create a course around it and use it as the required text.

No matter what strategy you use, by obtaining early readers and feedback, you’ll improve your book. The insight you gain will help you craft a more marketable book.

Profile photo of Nina Amir About Nina Amir

Nina Amir, the Inspiration to Creation Coach, inspires writers and bloggers to create published products and careers as authors. Additionally, she helps her clients and readers achieve their potential, fulfill their purpose and make a positive and meaningful difference with their words. She is the author of How to Blog a Book, The Author Training Manual, and Creative Visualization for Writers, all published by Writer’s Digest Books. As a hybrid author, she also has published 17 books independently. She is a nonfiction book editor and doctor, proposal consultant, and an Author Coach and Trainer as well as a Book and Blog Coach. Some of her clients have sold 320,000+ copies of their books and been published by major publishing houses. Nina also is an award winning blogger and journalist, international speaker and founder of National Nonfiction Writing Month, also known as the Write Nonfiction in November Challenge, and the Nonfiction Writers’ University. Also a Certified High Performance Coach, Nina strives to help creative people Achieve More Inspired Results personally and professionally.

Comments

  1. It’s wonderful to have so many options to test ideas before investing in the more static form of a book. I’m always trying out new ideas through my blog. My guess is most of us do, and the instant feedback is invaluable.
    I recently decided to write a mini eBook just to increase my exposure and when I got to the point of asking my tribe for feedback it was amazing. Even with my small group, I had some great ideas for the cover design and it was so much fun sending out drafts for editing. There was even one couple who helped me and the husband had been a professional editor. It was awesome knowing my book is grammatically correct and the wording is clear without me needing to spend a penny!
    I just heard about a group who is interested in a course I might produce. I’m already thinking of using the premises in my book as a framework. So, some of these ideas can work in reverse as well.
    Thanks for getting our creative juices flowing and expanding our inspirational horizons.

  2. I’ve blogged story starters and gotten good feedback. It’s hard to get readers on a blog sometimes, just like it’s hard to get beta readers unless you hire them. Considering I’m just starting out and I have very limited income, that’s a difficulty for me.

    One thing I’ve learned is you can’t rely on friends and family to read your work. Everyone acts excited and happy that you’re writing, and they may even happily say they want to read. In the end they never do. I would rather people tell me that they aren’t interested or they don’t have time than lie and give me false hope.

    • Friends and family are not the best people to give feedback on your work…or to rely on as regular readers of your blogs or books. Find REAL readers.

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