You’ve finished your writing and you’re ready to share with your early readers to get their advice about how to improve it. You’re pretty sure “early readers” means friends, family, and even your second grade teacher. You’re so proud that you just can’t wait to get feedback from anyone and everyone you’ve ever known, especially your mom, your dad, your brother, and your best friend. 

Please don’t. 

This is a bad idea for so many reasons. When you’ve finished the rough draft of your book, you’re in a fragile place. It might be that 60% of the work is done but the final stages of book creation process are often more challenging than authors expect. It’s important that they get good advice so they don’t waste time and energy – and friends and family are often the last place that you’ll get good advice.

So, why are mom and dad such bad candidates? 

First, it’s highly unlikely that your family and your best friend are members of your target audience. This means that the message you wrote isn’t really intended for them, and there is a good chance this will lead to useless and nonconstructive criticism. 

Second, if they have a judgmental, critical, or insecure bone in their bodies (and they probably do), they may tear your book apart for reasons that have nothing to do with the strength of your work. That’s the last thing you need. You need feedback, but it’s absolutely critical that it is constructive feedback.   

When you choose early readers, you have the chance to test out your ideas on readers who will help shape your book into the best possible version. This means you want to look for people who have clarity and precision of thought; who are able to see the big picture; who have at least some knowledge of your field and what you teach; and who have the ability to communicate their ideas with clarity. 

Ideally, your early readers are people who are:

  • In your target audience
  • Your mentors or people who have experience and knowledge of your industry, target audience, ideas, and content
  • Professional writers and editors

Anyone outside of those three buckets might do your book (and ego) more harm than good. While there may be people outside those groups who read the final product, you want to be sure to save yourself time (and heartache) by working with only those who can give quality advice on your work, based on objective knowledge and not personal opinion.