If you’re not sure who we are, please go here to read about us. (We’re a small team, so it’s a short read.) Otherwise, hopefully these FAQs will help you get a feel for who we are, what we’re trying to do, and all that other stuff that our site will help explain… when it’s up. (Sign up for advance notice here. No, you don’t need a special invitation – everyone’s welcome.)

What is Page99Test.com?
The ONLY place where published & unpublished writers can share their page 99s with a world of readers – and where those readers let the writer know if, based on that one page, they’d want to turn the page… or buy the book. Did it hook them? Did it grab them? Find out fast.

Where did the idea come from?
The Page 99 Test is a test that readers have been doing for a long time. (Co-founder Joanna’s been doing it since second-year uni.)

You walk into Barnes & Noble or Chapters, wander around, find a book that intrigues you and check out the cover artwork, the title and author, and the snippet on the back – all of which are, of course, crafted to sell. Then? Then the savvy among us flip to page 99 and read that whole page.

That’s where the quality of the whole book can be revealed. How can that be? Well, page 99 is a perfectly random page and likely not as overworked as the opening and ending. So it can reveal a lot about the story, the tension – basically, the writing – in about 25 seconds.

Are there any other sites doing something similar?
Page99Test.com is a happy blend of user contributions and ratings, which has been done a few times in the web design world: FiveSecondTest.com, Forrst.com and Dribbble.com come to mind. For screenwriting, Kevin Spacey’s TriggerStreet.com has been putting screenplays, films, and even whole books in front of readers for years. HarperCollins owns Authonomy.com, which is sort of similar but not really.

Nobody’s doing what we’re doing, though. We’re:

  • Made for readers & writers (plus agents, editors, publishers)
  • Focused on FAST assessment experiences
  • Helping readers discover writers new, old, published, unpublished, self-published…

So, how does it work for writers?
Writers – published or not – come to the site, sign in (easy 4-field sign-up), and copy-and-paste their ‘page 99’ from their manuscript (MS) into the text field on our site. They enter a few details – like book genre, title, and publication status – and submit it. It’s totally free.

Writers can upload up to 3 page 99s (all from different MSs, obviously). Each page stays up for 30 days or 50 reads/ratings, whichever comes first. (Why limit it? We don’t want to fatigue readers. We’d like to spread the readers around as much as possible, so one book doesn’t get 100s of reviews and another gets, like, 12.)

As ratings come in, writers go to their My Uploads page to see reader feedback, including comments.

Page 99 Test - Writer View

If the feedback’s bad – like, ego-bursting bad – they can choose to Hide A Page immediately, which pulls it down. Then they’re supposed to – and we know not everyone will, but – revise their whole MS based on reader feedback and upload a revision (marked as Revision).

If the feedback’s decent or good, yay! Writers should take in the feedback and revise as they”d like. Next step? Upload a whole chapter for feedback. (Coming in Phase II, if peeps like Phase I.)

And how does it work for readers?
Readers come to the site, sign in (easy 4-field sign-up), select their preferred genre, and get shown a page 99, which is randomly generated within the selected genre. They read the page from top to bottom (hopefully) and then answer these 2 questions:

(OPTIONAL: Add comment for writer.) Once you hit Submit Feedback, you’re taken to a page that reveals to you info you didn’t otherwise know, like:

  • Whether the page is from a published book or not
  • Who the author is
  • What the average rating is for each of the 2 questions
  • Verbatim feedback/comments

You could be shocked to discover what you actually like and don’t like, based on that one representative page.

Oh, dang, I would turn the page on a book from The Twilight Saga! And I wouldn’t buy Let the Great World Spin?

A reader can only read a page 99 once.

Okay, but what’s really cool about the site?
Well, we think the design is sort of kick ass. It’s very easy to be BORING when it comes to books, so we wanted to steer clear of that… without turning off readers (who may be traditionalist in some ways – like those people who say “oh, i just love the smell of books”).

Secondly, the idea that we’re mixing published and unpublished pages? That’s cool. And that we’re promoting anonymity during the reading process to ensure virtually unbiased feedback? Very cool. We really, really want to help people discover well-written books that are already published… and undiscovered talent that just hasn’t got a break yet.

Third, no ads. We don’t like ads. They get in the way.

Sure, but does it work?
Well, it’s not a science. It’s simply one more way – a fun way – to judge the quality of a book.

What problem are we trying to solve?
We’re dramatically cutting the guesswork out of the book publishing world. Everyone in publishing knows that even the best-written books won’t sell if readers aren’t buying them. But how do you know if a reader will buy?–ask a team of 5 ‘readers’/interns at an agency? Come on.

As in any business, you ask the customer. Not by holding a focus group — ‘cos that’s how we got New Coke, right? (shudder) — but by putting the work in front of them and getting quick, real-time, unbiased feedback.

I mean, if a publisher or agent knew that 50 readers – with no motivation or incentive but to find a great read – said they’d turn the page and buy the book, seriously, wouldn’t the smart ones at least consider that book?–pull it out of the slush pile of 300 unfiltered MSs?

We’re not suggesting that, in the next year or so, publishers will be banging down the doors of writers with great reviews on our site. But we’d like to see where the reviews can go to HELP writers market themselves to agents, editors, etc.

Do we have funding?
No. But we haven’t asked for it, either.

Who’s on the team?
There are a whopping 3 of us, and we’re all co-founders with different areas of expertise… but the same title (‘cos titles are important for books, not people). Design by Worry Free Labs (of MailChimp fame).

Here are some cool things to know about us:

  • The site went from idea to finished design in ~4 weeks
  • Joanna recently wrote a young adult novel, which opened her eyes to the decidedly antiquated world of publishing
  • Lance has been in love with the Internet since it got started – and sold his first newsletter to CNET back in 1995
  • We’re trying to get Steven to move out to Vancouver Island with us
  • The whole team met at Intuit, where we still have our day jobs optimizing websites for the Global Business Division

And here’s our logo, if you’ve decided to write about us (thank you!) and want to put it in your post:

Page 99 Test Logo