One of the most surprising things I heard at this summer’s RWA Conference was from a panel of published YA authors who said they did not have any teenagers as beta readers. I still think about this because, though I do have critique partners and beta readers, I don’t haven any teenagers reading my books…yet.
Yes, there are a significant amount of adults who read YA–including me–and adult beta readers are great for giving feedback on how that audience will see the book. However, I don’t want to rely on adults alone when my primary audience would be younger. A younger beta reader might bring something up an adult would never think of because they aren’t immersed in that culture anymore. I don’t mean slang and fashion because we want our books to have a timeless quality, but I want to make sure my characters act and think like authentic teens.
The problem an author runs into here is the same problem they have with adult beta readers, and that is: “Who can I trust with my book?” I love hearing stories of authors with teenage children who are a wealth of information and inspiration. I also love hearing about teenagers who writers and trade with their friends. I’m not lucky enough to be in either of these situations, but I do have teenagers in my extended family who I might begin with. It’s just a matter of being brave enough to ask. 🙂
Whatever you write–do you have beta readers? If so, are they close to you?
Michelle Joyce Bond