Soliciting Test Readers

October 22nd, 2009 by David Leave a reply »

I finished the second draft of my novel Beowulf Stormbringer this week, which means only one thing: it’s time to ask for your help. Dear Reader, I am looking for test readers willing to honestly critique my book.

Reader feedback instructions

Reader feedback instructions

If you’re a lover of young-at-heart fantasy, a connoisseur of books in general, or a cynical curmudgeon convinced all tales written after Gilgamesh are mere copycats, I’m looking for you. If you’re a reader, there’s a chance for an acknowledgment if the book is published and your feedback is good. If you’re a writer, I will reciprocate by critiquing a project of your choice.

Here’s a brief summary of the book to help you decide if you want to chance reading it:

Many know the legend of Beowulf who fought the monster Grendel. But that man was not the first Beowulf. Before the gods left his world to come to ours, a Skarlish boy named Beowulf stowed away on a dragonship to seek his missing father.

Cast ashore in unfamiliar lands, Beowulf discovers his father ran afoul of the Ordning, a monolithic religious organization that seeks to rule Midgard. He also finds that as his father’s heir, the latent power in his blood makes him an important player in the looming conflict between a group of rebels and the Ordning.

Beowulf and his companions take up the quest that eluded his missing father: using lore of the Old Ones to find the ancient sword Blood-drinker and challenge the monolithic Ordning—even if it means the storms that follow him will take his life. With untested young wizard Thirl and the wise but fey forest girl Freya as his companions, Beowulf sets out to overcome danger, doubt, and his own flaws on a journey to find the sword of his birthright and become BEOWULF STORMBRINGER.

You can read a sample chapter here. I should have an audio version of the first chapter up soon as well.

To participate, all you need to do is drop me a line, send me a message on Twitter, or leave a comment on the page with your email address properly set in your login. I will send you a PDF of the book along with a comment form.

For those interested in what the comment form looks like, here it is. In case any other writers want to use it, I’ve made it generic.

[Document draft] Feedback Form


Dear [Reader name],

Thank you for reading a draft of my novel [Title]. Your feedback can help improve the book—if you like it, great, but I’m more interested in what you DON’T like. Getting praise from readers afraid of hurting my feelings won’t help me a bit if I overlook flaws that later disappoint publishers, agents, and paying readers. My goal is to create the best reading experience possible, and you can help me by pointing out the bits that aren’t up to par—as long as you tell me in detail WHY they fall short.

The good news is that if you get bored, frustrated, or confused, you don’t have to keep reading. You can simply let me know where you got stuck, and why, and send me back this form. If your experience corresponds with other readers, I’ll do my best to fix that problem. Only read all the way through the book if you’re having a good time doing so.

The only other thing I ask of you is that you return this form within 30 days of receipt if possible. This will help shorten the schedule to get the book to agents and publishers—it’s not going anywhere until I hear from YOU. Because you’re a STAR!

Thank you,

[The author]

PS: If you have friends who might like to read the book, let me know. I’m especially looking for [reader type]. The more points of view I get the better.

How would you describe yourself as a reader (voracious, fantasy reader, general reader, casual, picky, etc.)?

What kind of reader (if any) would you recommend this book to (young adult, general fantasy, male, female, etc.)? Are there any other books you would compare this book to?

What were the three things (characters, chapters, language, pace, clarity, dialog, etc.) you liked BEST in this book? Please explain why.




What were the three things (characters, chapters, language, pace, lack of clarity, boring sections, dialog, etc.) you liked LEAST in this book? Please explain why.




Should the book be published and your feedback be deemed helpful in this process, how would you like your name to appear in the acknowledgments?

Lastly, please let me know any other comments you have on the book. If you have ideas or criticisms, don’t be shy!

In structuring the comment form, I found my own past life as a marketing manager helpful as well as the kind advice of BubbleCow. I’ve just given the book a line-by-line edit, so I’m less interested in minutiae as I am big picture problems. I’m hoping readers will read through it just like they would a book from the shelf and I have a strict no-work policy. If it starts to feel like work, quit reading and let me know where it fell apart.

Have a wonderful day!


1 comment

  1. Diane says:

    How exciting you have gotten to this stage!!