When I met up with my publisher in Liberty's the other month some of the girls expressed astonishment that no one, other than them and my agent, had read my book.
In fact, when I confessed that I'd refused to let my mum read it they looked so shocked that my cheeks went a bit warm and I felt like the world's worst daughter!
But there were three reasons why I didn't want my family to read my novel until a book-shaped proof was available:
1) I didn't want them to have to read 300+ page of A4 printer paper!
2) I wanted it to be as perfect as possible
3) I wanted my parents to see the 'For my parents' dedication in the front
Oh yes, and there's a four...
4) I was scared shitless!
Agents and publishers are supposed to like your book - they wouldn't have signed you if they didn't - but releasing your book to the 'real world' is a whole different ball game. People have different tastes, strong opinions, likes and dislikes etc etc and it's not part of their job description to bolster your ego!
And if there's one thing my family is very good at - it's being honest (often too honest) and expressing their opinions! When I first started secondary school I was often accused of being 'tactless' and that's definitely a family trait.
So yes, I was scared about sharing my book with them. Scared that if they responded with "it was okay" or "I didn't like X bit much" or "I though that scene with A and B was a bit unbelievable" I'd be horribly, terribly crushed (you're never to old to want your family to be proud of you are you?)
So when the proofs came out I bit the bullet and sent a copy to my Mum.
She started reading it on a Saturday morning, texting me sporadically to tell me what page she was on.
But Sunday night I felt a bit sick.
Then there was a text - she loved it, she was hugely proud of me and she was going to buy copies for all the teachers at her school for Christmas!
Apparently she liked it so much (and went on about it so much) my dad asked if he could read it next. Dad wanting to read a book, any book is a huge deal. In fact, I can't ever remember him reading anything other than a newspaper or gardening or DIY manual.
And he loved it too and texted me to say how much he enjoyed my characters and that I'd obviously inherited his sense of humour!
Then my soon-to-be-sister in law asked to read it. And emailed me to say she was "weeping with joy" and that it had made her laugh and cry and that I was "the best writer ever" (I think I might have to marry her now!)
Then my brother and sister read it. They've both inherited the 'I don't do reading' gene from my dad. In fact, my twenty-six year-old brother told me that the last book he'd read was "Stig of the Dump" when he was 15!
My sister read the book from cover to cover in six hours and said it was "addictive" and posted a note on Facebook to tell all her friends that she loved it and to order it off Amazon.
A couple of days later my brother finished it. Now out of my whole family he's the one that worried me the most. As much as I love him my little brother's favourite sport is taking the piss out of me so I was fully expecting to hear "I could have written it better" or "people paid you for that?" but no...his Amazon status said
"finally read his biggest sister's book. A clever ending, couldn't see that one coming, good twists and turns, but my god, I'm not reading again until book no.2!"
So that's it. My entire (close) family have now read my book and I've survived unscathed.
Scratch that. It sounds too negative.
My entire (close) family have now read my book and their reactions have made me impossibly happy.
It's taken me thirty-five years but I've finally made them proud.