I won a book called The Writer's Little Helper by James V. Smith, Jr. from Writer Mama's September contest (thanks to Christina Katz for a great contest), and it has a "Reading Ease" section I have questions about.
Some software programs scan your manuscript and report how readable your text is based on the Flesch-Kincaid Reader's Scale. Each number on the scale corresponds with a grade level. Score a 6, and you're writing at about a sixth grade level. Microsoft has just such a readability check (for mine, it's located in Tools under Spelling and Grammar).
Smith, who writes a series under the pen name John Harriman, recommends keeping your reading ease at 6 or lower to maximize the amount of people who can read your work easily.
I googled to read more about this and found, courtesy of Miss Snark's now retired blog (I miss you, Oh Snarkalicious One) a link to a Mitch Albom book review that compares the readability of some famous authors to Albom's - and basically ditzes Albom for having a 3.4 readability.
Yet my new little helper tome says you should strive for a readability of 6 or under. So is it snobbery to look down on simple language? Or is plain writing catering to the masses? Don't we want to cater to the masses? Should we strive to write books that are accessible only to people we think literary enough? Does anyone out there consider this when writing their manuscripts? Should I? What readability level is your novel?
Whew. I feel like The Riddler today. Holy readability, Batman.
By the way, this blog rates as an 8.2 on the Flesch-Kincaid scale according to my Word program.