So it's the first day of term and my first child-free writing time in a long time. I am currently collating my feedback from a number of readers (26 in total!) who have read two versions of the first couple of chapters of my novel.
Last week I decided (as you do) that perhaps the story would read better in the first person, present tense instead of in third person, past tense. I re-wrote the beginning of it and was quite happy with the result. Luckily I am able to type very quickly, so I rewrote the first tenth of the book in under an hour. I still felt quite uncertain which version to go with though, so decided to ask some friends to have a read, and see what other people thought.
I started off asking some peers. Their feedback led me to think, why don't I ask some readers in the target market of 9-12 year olds? I ended up getting feedback from a total of 17 children between the ages of 7 and 14. I have to say I know some LOVELY children, they all came back to me quickly and with very helpful comments.
First of all I would like to share some of their thoughts:
I am pleased to say that none of them told me that they hated it!
EB (9) said, "I really wish this book could be published".
HE (14) said, "It's weird because I was never really a year seven, (thank goodness)but moving a lot, that's exactly what you feel like! Even asking where the bathroom is was really embarassing."
JD (12) asked her mum to ask me if I would sign a copy for her when it is published. Her mum also emailed me this morning to say she has told her friends all about me. Bless her.
My friend Rachel and her three children read it and she sent me this comment: "They liken the book to Jacqueline Wilson (which you must take as a huge compliment as they read everything by her!) They liked hearing about Sam, and her personal problems, both can empathise having been bullied and like the real life aspects..."
I also had several people who said that they would like to read the book when it was published (not all of them children!).
I'm so impressed with all of the feedback I received, especially as I only asked whether they preferred one version or another.
That of course, was the most important question. And the results:
An EXACT 50 / 50 split!
Then when I look specifically at the 9-12 year olds it is... an exact 50 / 50 split again.
So... which version am I going to go with?
You'll just have to buy the book to find out...