So I came across an interesting website, thanks to the Writer’s Digest Twitter feed.
The website is called The Page 99 Test, and it is based on a simple concept: many readers will go into a bookstore and browse through books by selecting a random page and reading it, to see if the writing style, subject matter, and quality are in line with what they are looking for.
I do this all the time, or at least, a modified version of this. If you see me in a Barnes and Noble or Borders (or a small, local bookstore, or even the big used bookstore down in Sarasota) I will likely have an armful of books that I have picked off the shelves. Now, I rarely do the “one page only” test. I usually sit with my load of books, look over the front and back cover (including blurbs) and read the synopsis and info about the author before I pick a page to read. I will, however, often read a page in the middle of the book, at random, to see if the style and quality of the work is resonating with me. (This is more true for new authors or authors I’m not yet familiar with. With an author I know well, I’ll read the first 10 to 20 pages before deciding.)
The whole concept behind The Page 99 Test is for aspiring authors to post page 99 of their novel in progress (or, even, a self-published or previously published work) and allow the readers of the site (you, me, anyone you know) to vote Yes or No to the question, “After reading this page, are you more likely or less likely to want to read the whole book?”
There is more explanation of the methodology on the site. (Like, why page 99 and not page 101 or 77?) The idea is to provide some useful feedback to the author regarding the likelihood of his or her work grabbing hold of the reader and not letting them go. It is also kind of fun to read the page 99 of other people’s work and try to help them out a bit.
If you have a novel in progress, post page 99 and see what the response is. If you don’t want to post, at least swing by and read a few pages and offer some thoughts on how the writers can beef up their story.