The Truth About Family Expectations

Posted: November 22, 2014 in Living and Life, Reflections, Writing
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Y U NO 1

It’s the truth: authors want their families to read their work.

Whether it’s our first book or our thirtieth or higher. Whether we’ve just published a blog post we wrote during our lunch break yesterday or a short story we’ve been working months on appearing in a prestigious magazine. There’s one thing all us authors want when this sort of thing happens: we want our folks to pay attention to it. Hell, we want our folks to buy at least one copy, drop everything else to read it, and then call us up to comment on it, tell us how much they loved it or hated it, and then go on Amazon or whatever site they got it from and write a (hopefully) three star or higher review.

This isn’t just narcissism on our part (though I’m sure that plays a big role in it). Authors like vindication, it’s one of the reasons we write and publish. And praise from our families on something we toil away at for hours and hours at a time is at the same time both something we kind of expect and something we desperately want. It’s a big deal for authors, no matter what the relationships between us and our families, that they take a look at our work and let us know what they think (and hopefully they actually like it and aren’t just saying it’s the most awesome thing ever to make us happy).

Sadly, that’s not always going to happen. My folks love me and I love them. Sure, occasionally we get on each other’s nerves and more than once I’ve fantasized about Daleks chasing them down the street (or was that my TA who keeps assigning extra work for our recitation class?). But yeah, we care pretty deeply about each other. Still, I know there are certain members of my family who won’t read my books, or won’t read them immediately. And I have to accept that.

The latter is pretty easy to explain: my folks are busy. Everyone above the age of 18 in my immediate family has a job of some sort. Plus my sister has schoolwork, my parents all have kids to still take care of, and bills to pay, and pets to take care of, and chores to do…basically, a lot on their plates. Eventually they get around to it, but until then I just have to be patient. Do I like it? No. But I know I can’t do anything to change it, so I wait and I let those members of my family get around to it in their own time. Eventually they get it done.


For the former, it’s another matter entirely. Some of them just aren’t big readers. It isn’t how they relax in the evenings. And I won’t even pick that fight, so why even bother getting them to read it if I know it’s a losing battle? Others like to read, but they don’t enjoy anything with monsters. Or ghosts. Or murder. Or blood. Or missing limbs. Or the occasional hot and heavy sex scene. Or darkness. Or scares. In other words, what I write is the exact opposite of what they look for in a story. Well, you can try with these people, but I can’t guarantee it’ll work. For some, unless you’re writing comedy, romance, or a highfalutin coming-of-age literary novel, they just won’t read it.

Though if you still want a specific family member or friend to read your work, by all means go ahead and try. You can try by emphasizing to them the aspects of the story they would most likely enjoy (this worked with a friend of mine when I highlighted the romantic aspect of Snake). It’s better than cutting a deal with them or guilt-tripping them (though I think the latter worked for me one time).

And if that doesn’t work, don’t be too glum about it. There are always people out there willing to read your work. You just have to work hard and try to connect to them, wherever they may be. That’s part of the reason why I blog and post on Facebook and tweet and all that: because I know that by doing so it has the potential to open all sorts of doors. Maybe even allow me to find some people who would enjoy my work. You never know.

Does your family read your work?

How do you get your folks to read your work when it doesn’t necessarily appeal to them?

Oh, and if you’re wondering about the meme photos and where I got them, I made them. Yeah, I made them. I found this website that allows you to create your very own memes. It’s amazing! Now I can put hilarious memes in my stories whenever I want.

Oh dear. Maybe that’s not such a good thing after all…

  1. Michael Ungar says:

    Ummmm. I’ve bought all your books and read your blog posts.

  2. I can’t even get my best friends to read my blog, nevermind my family members. But my mum reads it. Not always, but most of the time. My dad can’t actually read anything I write, because he doesn’t understand much in English and my cousin will be my editor after I finish my novel.

    • Just a bit of advice: you might want to have another person look at that manuscript as well. Sometimes relatives and friends will miss things or won’t push you in the direction you need to go because they don’t want to upset you or they may pretend the flaws don’t exist.

      Not saying about your friends and family specifically, just saying it happens.

      • I know 🙂 but my cousin wants to become an editor, so I thought I’d give her something to start with! But don’t worry, I know exactly who’s just being nice and who wants to help me!

      • Good on you for being able to tell the difference. Some people have difficulty doing just that.

      • I have some friends who just always compliment whatever I do and although that’s not very helpful, sometimes that’s exactly what I need. In other cases, I want actual help and then I go to the people who’ll ask questions and who don’t just take everything as a given they have to accept. The people who want to discuss are mostly the ones not afraid to critise. That’s just how I differentiate them.
        But a complete outsider would probably still be helpful.

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