I don’t claim to be a writer. Not even close, actually. But I do read a rather insane amount of material, and we all have our litmus test for how good (or bad) a book can be. Page 99 Test is aiming to help writers find out if their work has any future by enabling the public to vote and comment on the 99th page of their work.
Why the 99th page? Apparently the reason behind it goes like this:
Because it’s arbitrary. And it’s rarely as worked on as the elements people typically judge a book by… like the synopsis, the first few pages, or the cover.
Of course, it goes deeper than that, as well. We’ve all seen the sites such as Hot or Not, Five Second Test and Dribble. Essentially what you get with those sites is a taste test, intended to be very quick, with the idea that you’ll be able to tell the good from the bad in a short glance. Page 99 Test goes on that same principal, allowing viewers to read your 99th page and then leave comments regarding it.
Readers can click the Start Reading button and get right into it. Registration takes only a display name, an email address and a password. Once they’re reading, they have a few options available to them, as you see in the screenshot. The writer can then view that feedback and decide whether it warrants action or if they should leave well enough alone.
So what does it all lead to? From what we’re being told, the “best” pages will soon be displayed on the site. Writers will be able to collect badges based on their success, such as One to Watch, Page Turner or Best Seller. If a writer chooses to self-publish, then they already have a following for their book based simply on the site.
In the near future, Page 99 Test will be adding the ability to upload full chapters, as well. Though we’re not being told what the reasoning is to break away from the 99th page, it’s fairly safe to assume that reading the chapter will be another voting option available to viewers.
Ford Maddox Ford was once quoted as saying “open the book to page ninety-nine, and the quality of the whole will be revealed to you”. If his assertion holds true, then Page 99 Test should be a dead-on accurate indication of a book’s success.