Thursday, October 10, 2013

Page 99 Test Revisited: "Like a dog with ADHD"

Last October, I blogged about a website called Page99Test. I uploaded page 99 from Crimson & Cream and after nearly a year of being on the website, I received the maximum allowable 30 reviews and have had my page 'retired.'  What I'm sharing with you today are the results of this experiment and the feedback I received, for the purpose of helping you decide if this is worth doing with your own writing.

Page99Test lets its visitors read page 99 from a random, anonymous book. After reading the page, the reader is prompted to answer three questions:

  1. Would you Turn the Page?
  2. Tell the writer why or why not.
  3. Based on what you read, how likely are you to buy this book?

In analyzing the numbers, I averaged almost 3 reviews a month. Of these 30 reviews, 40% of the readers indicated they would turn the page (12 out of 30).

Regarding feedback on how likely the reader was to buy the book, my meager statistics are shown below:

Very Likely
0% (0 votes) Somewhat Likely
17% (5 votes) No Opinion
33% (10 votes) Not Very Likely
33% (10 votes) Definitely Not
17% (5 votes) - See more at: http://page99test.com/my-feedback/1930#sthash.X6JEBbNv.dpuf

Regarding the actual written feedback I received, "No comment provided" was the response from 16 of the 30 readers. Of the 14 considerate readers who took the time to provide feedback, these are the unedited comments I received, which ranged from politely flattering to troll-like insulting.
  • Too much jargon and too many silly names. Can't take it seriously.
  • The tribe of orphans named after animals and gang tags is so cliche – if this isn't supposed to be a parody then it's just a bit ridiculous. The writing is also flat and telly – not much description or emotion, just dry, distant narration.
  • I wish I could talk like this. I mean I really understand making paragraphs after every one or two sentences. It just seems logical to me. It needs more to it, and some grammar corrections.
  • Though it's well written, and the names are interesting (especially for fantasy), the situation didn't leap off the page and the blurb didn't sound bursting with new thoughts or ideas. It'll find an audience I'm sure though.
  • It was flat
  • doesnt flow very well, 2nd paragraph doesnt seem to fit in with the rest of the dialogue
  • It lacked feeling/emotional connection. It seemed more like a list of factual statements given in chronological order than a story to identify and involve oneself in. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as others may prefer this style, but it is against my own taste.
  • I think that you use too much telling as opposed to showing, but the characters have such great names that I would love to know their story.
  • Interesting, though it was probably unnecessary to put everything that was given to him. I usually skip over parts like that, they aren't really relevant or important.
  • Interesting Names and word choice. "Pilfering" is great
  • Not my kind of story, sorry.
  • Good writing but too much rattling off lots of goodies
  • Your sentences sound like they're written by a dog with ADHD. Grow up and write a sentence with more than five words.
  • the short snappy sentence structure works well with the tone of the piece.
So the big questions are Was it worth it? and Would I Do it Again?  Considering it was quite easy and quick to add my page to the website, I would be hard-pressed to deny that it wasn't worth it.  I received free feedback with little effort required on my part.  But will I do it again?  I can't say for certain, but I probably will.  Although the comments were brief, some common themes appeared that have been echoed by my editor in her review of Crimson & Cream in preparation for the revised second edition.  In particular, the following problems are being addressed in the second edition: overuse of cliches, excessive narrative (info dumps), too much telling as opposed to showing, and a lack of immersion. 

So, in summary, I think Page99Test is a useful site to get (a little) more exposure for your writing and receive some unfiltered instant feedback from readers on a snapshot of your writing style.

Author Update: Mirrors & Mist, Book Two of the Oxbow Kingdom Trilogy is now in the hands of my editor (and yes, I am nervous). While she's covering that document in red ink, I'm working my way through the second edition of Crimson & Cream, currently working on Chapter 21 of 28.




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