When it comes to Lean Media and books, there are a few approaches for creators to tap test audiences for insights.
One involves the use of beta readers. As recounted in On Writing and elsewhere, author Stephen King turns to a small group of beta readers (including his wife and “ideal reader,” the novelist Tabitha King) and listens very carefully to what they have to say:
In addition to Tabby’s first read, I usually send manuscripts to between four and eight other people who have critiqued my stories over the years.
If more than one of them brings up something that doesn’t quite work, such as a plot twist or a piece of dialogue, he is apt to change or even remove it in the next revision. I think this is a very effective way to catch potential problems before they make it into print, and also to create a work that is more likely to click with readers.
Another approach involves cover design. At IBPA’s Publishing University conference in 2015, I saw how several New York publishing houses use focus groups and A/B testing to generate actionable metrics that they can use to decide which cover design or design elements will resonate the most with readers post-launch.
But you don’t need to be a big publishing house to do this type of test. Right now, I would like you to take a look at the following test covers for Genealogy Basics In 30 Minutes, which will be released later this year. Which cover works for you? Leave your choice in the comments, as well as any other feedback that you think may be helpful!