Quick Tips: Friends And Family Don’t Know It All
Here’s the scenario: You worked for weeks, maybe months on your baby–your first novel. You know you have the perfect plot, the perfect characters, the perfect premise, and it’s all perfectly perfect. You agonized over editing, cutting the bits your loved, adding more bits you didn’t know you needed, and making it all shiny and pretty. What publishing house wouldn’t want your very clean, very awesome manuscript?
Then you do something that most authors do: You let your friends and family read it. Now, your friends may have the same interests as you, be part of some fandom you love, or know someone who knows someone who published a book before. Basically, they can easily be your own private cheering squad. Which, yay, that’s fun, right? They can pump your ego like nobody’s business. They also think they are editors. Granted, some may well be actual editors or just avid readers who know a thing or two. Maybe one has a coveted English degree from some swank university. My point is that your friends are very biased because they are your friends after all. Why would you be friends with someone thinks you suck or your writing should line birdcages?
Family? They simply love the fact you wrote something no matter what it looks like.
I will give some of your friends and family the benefit of the doubt. They can give some good insight and share some really constructive objective views on your story. Or maybe your skin is super thick and you can take criticism better than the average newbie author. Trust me, you’re still a newbie even if you have written a dozen unpublished manuscripts. You’re a newbie to the world of publishing and editing.
Think about what your family and friends did for you as a result of reading your manuscript. Did they edit with the best of their knowledge? Did they give praise throughout, never once leaving a negative comment? Or did they advise to change your whole plot structure becasue they thought it needed changing?
You take their advice, because who wouldn’t? They are your friends. Soon your manuscript reassembles something you wrote before they read it. You have no idea where all the extra commas splices came from but since Uncle Bob put them in, it must be right. Heather from your favorite chat room thought that the sex scene lacked emotion, and she told you to add bits that make it a cliched mess of limbs and disembodied action.
Where did your story go? Have you had that dawning moment when you figure out your friends and family aren’t experts and that your “baby” may not be ready for the big leagues after your first rejection letter? Was it when your book was ripped to shreds from an acquisitions editor, or when the reviews for your self-published book were too scathing to digest? Or maybe it was when you decided to pay for a professional edit after it’s all said and done and was knocked over when it bled red?
Don’t worry if all of this has happened to you. Odds are it has. It’s perfectly normal. And odds are your family and friends aren’t to blame for giving you glowing critiques and mediocre editing. Maybe they tried to “help” your book so much it’s a shadow of what you started out with. In the end, they just want what’s best for you and want to help as much as they can. But you can do something about it and take the bull by the horns.
- Join critique groups: Have you seen how many there are on Facebook or Linkedin? Do a search of your genre and join some groups. You would be surprised of the knowledge you can find in these places.
- Join writing groups: Again Facebook and Linkedin are great resources. Also check out what you can find in your own city. There are many local groups that get together weekly to help each other grow as authors.
- Search out authors in your same genre: If you’re writing a mystery, chances are that another author writing in your genre will have a better grasp on the topic than your best friend or favorite aunt. Seek out these people of different social medias. Pick their brains. You would be surprised at how many authors are willing to talk to you.
- Stick with ones your trust: Yes, you trust your long lost friend from high school, but she isn’t an expert. If you get rejected by a publishing house, ask for feedback. Critique partners tend to stick together, but it doesn’t mean you have to use them for every book. Have a group of trusted professionals you can rely on.
- After all if said and done: Nothing is better than letting your family and friends support you in your writing journey. My suggestion is that only after you feel confident with your work and unwilling to change large aspects of it to fit anyone else’s opinion or you submitted your work to a publishing house or self-publish it, do you let your family and friends read your gem. Take the comments and concerns gladly but feel rested in the fact that your book is ready.
Once your book is safely in the publisher’s hands or sitting on the top-seller’s list on Amazon, you can be proud of your book. Now you can sit back and enjoy the cheers of your friends and family. Rah, Rah! Sis boom bah!