Strolling through the blogroll this morning, I noticed the crew at Romantic Inks had an interesting post about CPs and BRs and crit groups. I'm not going to rehash what they said, or what I said in my comment (or what I've said in previous posts on the subject over at my old blog), but it did get me to thinking about the people who read our work before it gets published.
They say you should'n't have family and friends read your work - at least not for any real opinion on its quality and/or saleability. Except for my daughter, I don't really have that problem. She's the only family member who reads my stuff, and her opinions aren't hindered by any need to save my feelings. (We don't work that way.)
My mother hasn't read anything I've written since I was a kid. I know if she read any of my WIPs, she would either give me an honest answer (if she liked it) or she would avoid the subject (if she didn't).
My husband only read the first book. He really liked it, but then he got irritated that I edited it after he read it. Now he says he'll wait until my books are published, so he knows he's reading the FINAL draft. (And before any of you gasp over this, it works for me. He doesn't want to interfere with my writing, and since he's an Alpha, he can't help but try to.)
I let my best friend read one of my books (RTL) last fall. Or rather, she asked me to email it to her, but she's so busy that the last I heard, she was only halfway through. (Seriously, she's busy. 50 hr workweek usually, two kids with lots of activities, family obligations... We only see each other about once a month, and that's because she works with my husband.) On the upside, she really likes what she's read so far.
Other than family and face-to-face friends, I do have my beta readers (and I love them all). Some of them I've never met, but each of them is important to me. They're the ones who give me feedback I can really use. Of course, one of them is my daughter, but for all intents and purposes, I can forget the familial connection and look at her like any other beta. They all read my stories with the idea of pointing out flaws, so I can craft the best book possible. And in most cases, I do the same for them. One of my betas got an agent a while back and should be going on submission soon. I can't wait to see her in print. My daughter beta just entered a college scholarship contest with a grand prize of $2K. I beta read the essay, and provided suggestions for improvement. I really think she has a shot to win money this year. (Which is good since she wants to go to college out of state. Ack.)
Anyway, I lost the point of this post somewhere along the way. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I think it's valuable to have others read your pre-pub work. If only to get another set of eyes when you can't see the forest any more. It doesn't matter who these people are - friends and family, if you encourage them to be brutally honest, can be just as helpful as your published acquaintances. Sometimes it's important to just have someone else read your writing, if for no other reason than it helps shake out the fear of what'll happen when strangers read your work.
Who reads your stuff? Can you count on family and friends to give you the skinny, or do you have to look outside for an objective eye?