Everything I’ve read says not to ask friends and family to read your work. And as much as you read this advice, it’s still hard not to do it! You’re proud of your work and you want to share that pride with the people that mean the most to you. Sometimes, they give exactly the feedback you need, that extra enthusiastic push that keeps you working on your dream. Other times…it’s not so good.
I asked a friend of mine, who is a newspaper editor, to do me the favor of reading and editing the first draft of my book. She seemed excited and supportive of the idea, but then never read it. I never knew if she read it and hated it but didn’t have the courage to tell me she hated it, or if she simply didn’t have the time or inclination to read it. I would have been far better served to offer her money to do it, or to just hire an editor I didn’t know.
Others I asked to read, old writer friends, family members, seemed to take FOREVER to read it. They’d say they started it, and were enjoying it, but they never seemed to finish it. It made me think my ending sucked, or that I wasn’t able to maintain the interest of the reader. I made excuses for them like, it’s hard to read a huge, single-sided, double-spaced book in bed or no one wants to read an entire book on their computer screens…but I also thought, that if one of THEM had given me a book of theirs to read, I would have read it! Asking them to read and not getting a full response on the book did FAR worse for my confidence than good.
My sister, on the other hand, was fantastic help. She tore through the pages as quickly as I could send them. She gasped at the right places, gave me great advice for things to change and add, and motivated me to keep working.
But sometimes, you simply shouldn’t ever, ever, EVER ask! More on that next time…