The article begins: “Last year, Tom Becker won the Waterstone's prize for children's fiction with his first novel, Darkside; last week he won another award, the Calderdale children's book prize. The talk among agents and publishers has been about his suspenseful prose, his great potential. But few people have been talking about a more salient fact: that the book's concept and story was generated not by Becker, but by focus groups.”
It continues: Hothouse uses a market research company to put story ideas to children, who are observed from behind a one-way mirror. Using dummy covers, short excerpts and blurbs to prompt conversation, researchers ask the children their opinions on which characters, plots and ideas they enjoy most. Each child is also visited at home by a researcher, who finds out what kind of books they already own and read. Drawing on this research, Hothouse commissions a team of writers accordingly.
Read more here.
My focus group is Teen and Teen’s BF. But even then I don’t run ideas past them – just words. I’m not sure what I think of using focus groups. Would it just give us more Gossip Girl books?