Before that, the question for me was to do or not to do. To make things clear, there’s really no question of me not doing. The only way I could fail as a writer is to quit. I’m never done writing even when I just finished editing the last chapter of my book. So I must do—but not in the manner of much ado about nothing.
I have committed substantial effort to my book. This last revision was inspired by a class of 7th graders I worked with once a week this year. Now I need a few adults to volunteer as reviewers. These reviewers must not quit, at least not before the 4th chapter. More important, there’s a one week deadline to review three chapters.
I don’t expect a full line edit like a professional editor might provide, but I do need to know if the story is easy to read, whether it flows and makes sense to an adult—you know, those “old” people who buy the books for their young teenagers.
The 7th graders gave me suggestions and inspiration that generated a ton of changes. Think I’m kidding? Try lifting the stack of review papers I went through first as a group and then individually to make sure I addressed every question and concern.
The most important lessons I learned from them are less talk and more action. The average twelve-year-old these days doesn’t understand puns without explanation. Same with words like entity and rift. There’s a huge mental leap that happens somewhere around age 13. I hope that’s my lucky number, even if I don’t believe in luck except as a reward for hard work.
Now I have until the 24th of June to have adults read my book, or at least the first three chapters, and offer up opinions, good or bad. That date is when I’ll attend the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Bookwriters and Illustrators) midyear workshop in Orlando to try and sell it. I could use a few more volunteer reviewers, but only if you’re a fast reader and only if you’re not afraid to tell me the worst. I wouldn’t ask for criticism if I couldn’t take it.
I have one volunteer who left on vacation and might not be able to finish the first three chapters in time. Make no mistake, timing is critical because I need a week to make any changes necessitated by the reviews. For locals, I can print and deliver the manuscript if you prefer. For everyone else, the reviews must be online because there’s not enough time for snail mail.
I will return the favor of course. If you’re not a writer, I can help hone presentations or lessons for work, school, or church. So now the question is to review or not to review. I leave it up to you.