This post should have come before my Critique Partners and Both Sides of the Critique posts.
My single, sincere hope is that someone will read this post and avoid the mistake of sharing your writing with your family. Don't get offended! I'm sure your family consists of highly intellectual people who cherish books as much as you do. Maybe you even have someone in your family tree that's also a writer. Just hear me out before you hand over your manuscript.
I didn't admit to anyone, aside from my husband, that I was writing. Before I told anyone, I wanted to make sure I was good at it, right?
Well, I wrote the whole stinkin' thing and read it over at least twice, and it wasn't exactly awful. I wanted someone to read it. After "a few" drinks, I showed it to one of my oldest, closest friends. But guess what, she doesn't read romance and we were both too drunk to even attempt reading a beer bottle label, let alone a novel.
Onto plan B. Not many people I'm close to read for pleasure. My mom has asked to read my MS a few times, but I keep telling her, I don't want her to read it until it's perfect. The lady paid my way through college and works her butt off selling houses. If she makes time to read my novel, I want it to be a nice bound book that's seen the eyes of agents, editors, publishers. When she reads it, I want it to be as perfect as it can be.
I went the other route that many new writers might not know about, and that is finding online critique partners and joining an organization. The two posts I mentioned above can fill you in on that.
You still might be considering having family/friends read your work. SKKKERRRP!
Are you lucky enough to have a friend in publishing? Don't do it! As good as you think your writing is, how much polishing have you really done to it? If this is your first chance to get it into the hands of the publishing community, is it ready? Why not have a few beta readers or critique partners check it out first?
If someone doesn't write/edit in some capacity...what are they going to say about your novel? Probably that it's good or it's bad, right? And what is your mommy—who has loved you since the minute you were born—going to say? I'd be surprised if you showed it to any of your family members and they didn't say it was good. That's passive criticism. You can't do anything with good.
You need someone who is going to say, "The scene lacked setting," or "The dialogue felt natural, but the narrative lacked voice." The more specific the criticism the better.
CAUTION: Make sure you are ready to receive whatever criticism might come your way. Before anyone reads your MS, have a quick discussion with them about what you wrote, what you think your weaknesses are, and how detailed of a critique you would like them to give.