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Dealing With Friends’ Reactions To Your Writing

Dealing with Friends’ Reactions to Your Writing

Woman with hands over her eyes and a book on her lap

Following Francis Guenette's thoughtful post on how to share your writing with your partner, we've been chatting on the ALLi Facebook forum (open to ALLi members only – another great reason to join our organisation!) about the difficulties of dealing with friends' reactions to your books. Or in many cases, their complete lack of reaction!

Everyone who took part in the conversation felt comforted to know that they were not alone in their disappointment that those they had expected to be their greatest supporters are often far from it.

If you've ever been saddened by a friend's failure to read your book, to enjoy it, to review it, or even to notice its existence,read on – these comments (posted anonymously) may comfort you too!

As always, please feel free to share your own experiences via the comments box.

I am astonished to have had no reaction at all from my friends about my new books. Does it mean: (a) they haven't bothered to read them, although they paid to get them (b) they've read them and thought they were so indescribably awful they don't know what to say, like people crossing the street rather than speaking to you after a death (c) they've read them but don't “get” them (d) none of the above. It makes me want to scream. I'd rather someone told me “I tried to read your books, and they're shit” than just, well, NOTHING? And please, if I AM the only person in the world this happens to, I want to know that too…

I never got to the bottom of my so-called friend's silence after I sent her a free copy of my book. For various other reasons we are no longer friends. But my pet theory?… Jealousy.

It hurt and mystified me for quite a long time that my writing seemed to have become a taboo topic. Over time, I have become much more at peace with it. For some, the vulnerability that writing exposes is just too much I think – and I suspect that even enormously acclaimed writers still have this. I'm guessing but I wouldn't be surprised if some of, say, Hilary Mantel's nearest and dearest haven't read or don't like Wolf Hall!

I used to wonder why people who have told me they've loved my books don't leave reviews, but eventually I realised that most readers just do not understand the significance of reviews to authors. Some feel daunted by the thought of writing one and don't feel worthy. It's analogous to most travellers and Trip Advisor: the vast majority will never rate any place they go. They feel their involvement and responsibility starts and ends with the book/journey, then move on to the next one. Same goes for readers and books. 

What's most grating is that my friend keeps mentioning that she hasn't yet got round to reading my book and apologizing (with a giggle), and the implication seems to be that *I* will be the rude one if I don't repeatedly forgive her! I guess you've got to just shrug.

What's funny is that many of the people closest to me have been the ones who have taken the longest to get round to reading my debut published last August (some still haven't). And then so many casual acquaintances (people from the local pub, people I used to work with, people on LinkedIn, etc) have all jumped at the chance to read it and then reconnect to tell me their thoughts! I've stopped worrying about what my close friends think anymore because they're only reading it (if they ever do) because I wrote it. Fortunately, I've been steadily getting reviews from people on Amazon who don't know me at all saying how much they like my book. In some ways, these strangers are probably the most important people of all (as far as my books are concerned anyway!)

I'm guessing close friends may be put off reading our work in case they don't like it, and don't want it to jeopardise our friendship.

Our friends won't necessarily be our fans, or even that interested, but can still be valued friends in other ways. I think it's up to each of us to judge whether to confront that within a friendship or – as I have chosen to do – to focus on building my writing friendships to support me in that area and accept other friends in other ways. The good news is it doesn't bother me anything like as much any more!


What's the most hurtful thing that a friend has ever said or done with regard to your book? How have you coped with friends who are less than receptive to your writing? Please feel free to share via the comments box.


#Authors - how do you cope when friends don't like your books? Writers share their experience here #AuthorALLi #amwriting #ww Share on X


This Post Has 58 Comments
  1. I just published my Christian testimony on Amazon and it involves my divorcing an Iraqi Muslim. It also involves my faith journey in Pakistan and starting a Christian ministry there. I feared my ex the most – coming at me accusing me of “demonizing him…” but he did not. He didn’t even order or read the book. I spoke with all of the people involved about my intention to write this book, including my ex. ALL of them were supportive of it, even the ex. Well, after publishing, my “best friend” in Pakistan, who I never expected to react this way, sent me a HORRIBLE email demanding that I remove my book from the internet immediatly, why didn’t I share a draft with her first, on and on. Good GOD. She of all people intimately knows my faith journey and NOW she disagrees with how I portrayed HER in my book? She’s not even a main character! According to my research, I broke no laws. I used pseudonyms. I got verbal (and in her case, written) permission from several folks who I’d include in the book. I’m stunned and disappointed. Our friendship is now over. I did remove it, and I’m working with my editors to make some minor revisions to honor her request. I’ll re-publish it, and after that, I’m DONE with the drama. It’s MY story, and I’m allowed to share it. Man. My aunt and cousin also didn’t have much to say. One never ordered it, the other did but “hasn’t gotten around to reading it yet, because I’m finishing a book by Grisham.” It’s ok….You learn who in life really supports you and who does not with things like this.

  2. Be careful offering to share your work with anyone who may suffer from Narcissistic Histrionic Borderline Paranoid Grandiosity Personality Disorder. They will detect themselves in your most subtly coded characters and story lines. No amount of denial, disguise or revision will camouflage your clear intent to besmirch, slander and embarrass them personally, just like everybody else secretly does. That is because it is all about them, and those (everyone) jealous of their accomplishments and potential accomplishments have dedicated their lives to wreaking revenge.

  3. Don’t fret! We all experience it! My debut novel became a #1 Amazon bestseller and received a Kirkus star review. But here are the stats from people I know:
    About 20% returned positive feedback, and the other 80% just ghosted me and gave no feedback. It’s a combination of some I gave a free copy, but they didn’t really care about it because it was free. And I feel others could secretly be jealous of the success that I’ve had. Just know that most people want you to feel bad and not experience joy because they don’t either. For me, it helps me rid people from my life. Now, if someone gives negative feedback and are sincere about it, giving logical reasons, then I truly respect it.
    So it’s up to you to sort out each!

  4. I just started writing a book for fun but then I showed her and she told me to delete it “Don’t do something that will be too hard on you because trust me, making a book on figure skating is hard but i think i would be good at writing it.

  5. I thank you for this post! It made it clearer for me too.
    My dearest and closest friend, who is also trying himself in creative field, such as comic books and graphic design (but never manages to complete any of his projects) has given me a very negative review recently. I have written a short story. You might laugh, but for me it was a big deal, since that is first piece of writing I have posted publicly for everyone to read. So after I have written a short story he has taken his sweet time to read it, but once he was done the only thing I heard was that he did not understand it and asked all kind of negative questions to show me that I have not completed the story well. I have also received feedback form many aspiring writers, a few actor friends and people that I do not know, and all of them have sent me very positive and detailed reviews mentioning that they are waiting for more of such incredible stories.
    Even though he is the only one who has given me a negative feedback, because he is my best friend, it hurts the most.
    I concluded that this reaction is caused by jealousy and no matter how much you would wish that it would be otherwise, it is the actual truth.
    In my case, my friend has never managed to complete any of his creative work and I think this would be the reason for his reaction.
    I wish all of you who are reading this message the best of luck and stay strong and committed no matter what!

  6. Thank you so much for this thread of conversation. It reassures me to know that I am not alone. I’ve bookmarked this so I can go back to it when I feel down. I went through the same indifference when we self-published a book of essays last year. Now, one year later, I am working to finish another book of essays and will be expecting the same reaction. You guys are right. What did please me was finding out who bought my books: People who I did not expect would be supportive and it warmed my heart. The best reaction is to take it all in stride. I am not able to buy all the books that my writing friends publish as well. I observed their behavior and noticed they made people feel neither guilty or bad about not being able to buy. Same thing happens when I meet a new writer in person and their book is in the shop. They just take it as it comes.

  7. I’ve asked around 10-15 people, and only one of them read my manuscript, albeit when it was a dialogue. I’ve been on the same manuscript for 7 years and no ones read anything new I’ve written, never giving me a clear “no”, always putting it off saying they’ll get to it eventually or whenever. One girl has been saying that to me for 3 years. I’ve always known writing was lonely, but this…everyone can talk, everyone can read, just not when it comes to me. Just want someone to read and tell me it’s terrible, just so I know someone tried for me

    1. Hi JB,
      I feel your pain. Have had different but similar reactions from friends, though not for a long drawn out period. Recently I started looking into how to get the opinions of others for my manuscript and came upon 2 viable options:
      1. Beta readers: https://blog.reedsy.com/beta-readers/ — yes, it’s a “thing” apparently! Haven’t yet tried to find one but it maybe something for you to look into.
      2. Paid professional editors on different online platforms. Can be expensive, but depending on whether you have a day job to support your writing, it might be an option.

      Good luck with your journey!

    2. I have the same thing happening to me. I’ve been trying to share work for five years, two different manuscripts. Haven’t come across a single actual reader since 2015. Hope it gets better for you! I’m giving up on writing just as I have on all my other passions.

  8. Interesting comments. Sometimes the first-hand accounts of life and the writer’s life make more sense than intellectual wrangling that appears more clinical but not practical. I thank you for this page of insightful comments. Writing regardless, or better, in spite of the discouragement, really produces writing with encouragement. The results are often noticed later, much later on the page.

  9. A couple of my closest friends read a draft of a piece I’ve been working on this past year and then proceeded to turn it into some huge joke because my writing style was a bit similar to that of a very popular but quite corny writer (who will not be named). I am heartbroken because writing is all I feel that I have in this world and I truly believed what I wrote was powerful. I already have trouble with taking criticism as I am very sensitive to begin with but it was much worse to be the subject of a huge joke when I felt I had opened up to them in a really vulnerable way. I understand that not everyone will succumb to their knees and praise my work but if they didn’t like it there were other ways to break the news to me. It just hurts because whenever they’ve asked me to look at something they’ve done I always do my best to take interest and support them in the endeavor but why can’t they do the same for me? I think I won’t speak to them about my writing anymore.

    1. As a writer/editor, I get this quite often between the writing circle/groups that I am in. I will read their work, give opinionated responses and even edit their stories, but once it is my turn for them to help with my own work I get,
      “It’s good.” or “I like it.” without further details of what was good, or what was bad. So, I can relate to this quite fully, and it’s painful to think about, especially when you need another opinion, and whose opinions you value above all else.
      However, as I learned over the years, friends, families, and other writers will not help you. A writer will get jealous if they think you are better, families don’t care unless you get paid for it, and friends, do the ladder of both. You shouldn’t ask the opinions of those types of people, one: because friends and family- unless they are writers themselves are not qualified to give you good feedback, and they will not always like your work. Other writers don’t help because secretly- not all- but some don’t want to help other writers get ahead, it’s a tough business out there and friends again are the ladder.

      Now that being said, there are people out there who will like your work, and there are those who will not- sometimes those are families and friends, and other writers. That does not mean you give up. Every story, if you work at it, can become good, and if it isn’t, you can always write another- because that’s what makes a writer- you write regardless of opinion. You write because it makes you happy, and you write because it will make others happy as well.

      Please keep up the work and don’t give up, you will find people who will help and give you good opinions, it doesn’t mean your writing is bad. Also, who cares if you write similar to another writer, your friends won’t say that if you become a famous writer. Don’t be discouraged and continue to write regardless of your friend’s shitty opinion.

    2. I had a so-called friend in school discourage me from writing . I thought they really were telling the truth . Turned out years later they ended up releasing a few books of their own . And I realise they only said because they thought I was a threat to their ego . I am now in my thirties and I am writing a book of my own which I have only just started over the pandemic. I aim to finish in by the end of the year .

  10. This makes me feel better.
    A friend offered to read my fantasy manuscript even though she doesn’t like genre. She got to the end of the first chapter and said it was outside her comfort zone. I was devestated by this reflection on my writing but expected it to pass with time.
    She wouldn’t let it rest: poking the wound, asking if I was angry with her because she hadn’t given good feedback. Justifying her decision.
    At last I cracked and clarified that I was disappointed that she had broken our social contract to read my manuscript. In her apology she explained I was over sensitive and didn’t understand creativity involves vulnerability. I doubt I’ll ever speak to her again. I can cope with her failing in her social obligations, but mansplaining and gaslighting me are going too far.

  11. I really thought this happened only to me. I received positive feedback from my husband’s friends but my group of seven friends chose to ignore my work. I know for sure that at least two of them bought it. It is really depressing that they had nothing to say.

  12. I do feel for all of you, as jealousy is a curse but envy is worse. My friend who has been a friend for

    the past 34 years has recently insulted me over a typo. Because I sent her a text to ask if she has started rrading my book? notice rrading instead of reading…..

    Then she threatened me and said to start checking my text before sending it, because it was not

    good for my public image as an international author and I can’t spell, In short carry a dictionary around.

    I sent her a misspelling she sent me a few text messages ago. I haven’t heard from her since.

  13. amen to all of you! ditto across the board. i can only cut and paste your stories and thoughts and simply replace them with different names.

    more than anything…the silence is the hardest to get acclimated to…say something…anything…part of this whole journey is to acquire tougher skin and to not let the criticism sink in too deep…to grow…to learn. amen!

    since this happened to me…and since i can’t change my family and friends…i have changed how i respond to my family and friends who create art…letting them know how their work makes me feel…with some response so they know i support them…regardless of our tastes.

    thank you to all who shared all of your heartbreaking stories. i had no idea others were experiencing the same awkward issues.

    peace and love and keep writing!

  14. I have felt the same recently- I’m a new writer, also being nervous to publish work. Just like my story i’m working on, ‘Mr. Happy come take me away.’ Which is like my baby. I come to friends and family thinking their opinions matter most, not only that my writer friends who I love their work,

    There is a line I say,

    ‘Strangers of course wouldn’t sting, because their opinions didn’t matter. But friends and family…now that stung.’

    And it does, it stings to the point that I cry because I think i’m a terrible writer. With them giving a “meh” or “Oh it’s nice.” hurts beyond belief, then I read it to a stranger or someone i’m not as close with and they love it to the point they bug me when they’ll be more. However my writer friends say or nitpick the words I use, how I format my writing, or even once I had gotten, (Which I might add truly did happen.)

    “You’re story sounds like something I read.” They said.
    “What do you mean?” I asked hoping they give me a legit answer.
    I receive, “Oh because this one sentence you use reminds me other this other story I read, about a girl who is in the hospital and has superpowers.”

    My story, the main character has no superpowers, nor is it all in a hospital, it’s a sanatorium for 2 chapters- and the story she spoke of was a syfy while mine is purely fantasy, and the stories are nothing alike; it made me think why- then she couldn’t get pass another thing that I used the word snot, she thought it was funny.

    What she couldn’t get past was,

    My mother grabbed the bars still crying holding a napkin that was damp with her snot, “Amelia please understand this is for your own good,” My mother whimpered, “Your father and I love you very much, you know that right?”

    The word snot- that wasn’t the only thing she went after. Other of my writing friends gave, “Your formatting needs fixing- or this word- this- that.” However they would never, ever, commit on my actual story, they would say, “I don’t want to say it.” Or “Oh it’s fine- I would love to read it.” After brutally going after it. And that made me think, they don’t want to hurt my feelings and then I began to think I was terrible at writing.

    But then why? Why did strangers like my writing, but the closest people next to me all said ‘meh’ My writing friends go silent, my family aren’t supportive…It hurts.

    i’m a listener, I have always listened to others, their problems, their concerns, their pain and worry. Honestly this is more than likely why this post is long, because every time I get my turn, it quickly turns into their venting and not mine no longer. My dreams, my excitement- all pushed, “Meh.”

    Their dreams they wish to pursue and wanting full support from me, getting exciting feedback, and a smile, and I genuinely do wish to hear more, I go in without wanting anything and want to know more about their stories, their dreams I love hearing it but it’s common to want the same in return.

    “Meh” is hurtful and i’m losing my dream and will because I feel “meh” is saying i’m terrible- like i’d rather them tell me they don’t like it so I can move on. I’m aware not everyone will like it, that I totally understand. I just feel like i’m getting pushed under a train getting ran over, and not being told why i’m being pushed.

  15. I decided tonight to put my manuscript away for good. I’ve given it to a handful of family, friends, writing buddies, and none of them can get past the first few pages. One long-time friend hasn’t spoken to me since I emailed her my first chapter. For me, it’s not so much “Why aren’t you supporting me?” but more, “Is it that bad that you can’t get beyond the first chapter?” One person out of the seven I’ve handed it to actually read it, and gave feedback, but that was a beta-switch; I was also reading hers, and I think she read mine to even up the score. It’s gotten to the point where I KNOW it needs work when I read it, but I can no longer see the forrest for the trees. Yet I can’t get any feedback to point me in the right direction. If it’s that bad, maybe it really is time to give it up.

    1. I hope I’m not too late on this one. Your comment was heart breaking… but I know the feeling. I do have one writing friend (who happens to also be my brother) and we have decided to keep going. We write and set time to put our work in the universe looking for other writers with when we can connect and support. I hope you are still writing and haven’t given up.

      I also hope others are writing as well… in spite of the negativity and hostility. This article and these comments make me stronger and able to press on!
      Let’s all continue being the makers of music and dreamers of dreams!

      (PS. Hi JT! )

  16. I self published a few books and wish all I got was a “meh” response. On the first book I wrote, a college acquaintance who has always seen the worst in me and has tried several times to turn our mutual friend group against me, wrote a scathing review on a site because she identified with one of the characters and saw it as a “vicious attack” against her. In my third book, her review was even worse. The first book I admit was too close to real life events but the third book all the characters were made up. It was basically about a woman who lost her closest friend and how she slowly realizes that she’s fallen for the friend’s widower. I also go into the impact on the loss on the other friends and family members. Such a loss never happened in my friend group but she found a way to say that one of the characters was a way to trash a mutual friend. Now this mutual friend is divorced as is that character but that’s where the similarity ends. Unlike the character, the woman never lost a close friend and never had children where the book character has a son. The only thing I admit to borrowing, is I needed a neurotic mother story so I used something her mother did in real life. Anyway, the woman used her “review” to totally trash me by calling me out on an eating disorder I had in my college days, of being a bad friend, and a bully. She also committed libel, which is how I got her review taken down. She claimed that I lied about an advanced degree and I quickly provided a link to my Master’s thesis on the university website. What she said really pushed my buttons so I unpublished the first and third books and haven’t been able to commit to writing anything else since. I wish all I received was indifference.

  17. A very interesting topic! Quite recently I announced on social media the completion and promotion of a fantasy novel I had been ( secretly ) working on for two years. The biggest fantasy of all was my utterly misguided expectation that many Likes and Comments would come flooding back from my social circle – at least a word or two of interest or congrats in seeing a big project through. Whilst admitting that ego played a part here, it was also my genuine feeling that if one of my own friends or family had come up with a book, as in a ‘proper book’ and not just a short story or blog passage etc, I’d be fascinated to read it and hopefully like it enough to offer support. But not everyone is the same, and I do wonder if there is something in the nature of ‘lituratuuure’ that provokes a certain strange reaction in comparison to other art forms. I am also a visual artist and have frequently posted images of works on social media and usually get a nice flurry of reactions. Great! No problem there. People seem okay with the thought of me spending my spare time slapping paint on to canvas, so the conclusion that indifference or envy is due to creative self-indulgence can’t be true, because visual art involves a great deal of self-absorption. So why the wall of indifference from friends and family that writers experience? I wonder if it has less to do with the social dynamics and more to do with certain cultural perceptions connected with writing. Certainly in the UK where I live, writing a book is seen as a ‘higher’ achievement than painting a picture. Painting is seen as instinctive, expressive, something that can be done quickly and can draw on basic and non-academic faculties. Some see painting as connected with an almost child-like sensibility ( human societies created pictures long before the invention of written language ). In contrast, the process of writing is regarded as often more intellectual, strenuous, time-consuming, academic, enquiring, and a host of other qualities generally seen as a socially lofty enterprise. I could be wrong, but I feel this distinction is a particularly British problem. Therefore, to inform all your friends and family out of the blue that you have a literary aspiration is like saying you might like to nominate yourself for Prime Minister or starting your own religion. They just can’t handle it. To them, you’re the geezer who farts after eating pepperoni pizza, takes too many sick days off work and is lousy at D.I.Y. How can these same people who know your trivial quirks suddenly take you seriously as they would a ‘proper writer’ who does book signings and has titles on the New York Times bestseller list? These luminaries are ‘the others’ … but you, Bert Higgins, can’t possibly amount to being anything but who they’ve known for many years. It’s such a human trait … to revere the unknown and underestimate the everyday familiar. It is the ‘suspension of disbelief’ your friends and family have an issue with … like the ‘expert from out of town’ syndrome whereby some bod from far abroad will be invited to lecture on a subject when there’ll be dozens who live in the same town as the lecture organiser who would be equally capable, or like the art gallery which exhibits all kinds of artists as long as they’re exotically foreign and ignores all the local talent. So maybe these writer frustrations are less about envy or fear, but more about our tendency to revere that which lies outside our immediate domain.

    1. Man, and here I thought i was the only one experiencing this. Me? I am specifically a nobody.I was never understood nor was social in my school or college days… I was probably the poorest financially and academically in my studies before, I was also an ugly duckling before. But when I learned how to use my talents and skills to create financial freedom, and made a book about it – The only people who took notice of it was my wife and inlaws. Thank God for these people.. but i did hope that my batchmates and other family members should have read it and liked it. But as you have said, it is probably more on the “uncertain” being embraced by people; they just can’t accept it. I mean, I was a nobody and a flunkie before, but now when i made my book Polymath’s profit – everybody was like “meeh”. That hurts…
      It probably was due to the shock of change – perhaps envy and fear. But this is in the Philippines so I know it aint about just culture or country. Plus, most of them are experiencing mid life crisis; which is the reason why I made my financial/personal development book for them to be inspired – but i knew the best medicine is always bitter. Time will tell when such period will pass.
      But yeah, we have to keep going and be motivated, else we just stop while the world still turns; plus, if they won’t listen, we’ll just have to keep knocking. 🙂
      If they only know how much I cared… *sigh

  18. Wow it’s amazing how many folks are really buying our children book just got an entire church ordered plenty of our popular children book and that feels awesome thank the Lord more sales shall come once we get more inventory of all our books! Then we can donate the books to poverish children in India& Africa and America and London as we always wanted to do but we never had the income to do our Ministry work more to inspire the masses! But we donated another book today to the Hospital where my child got attention medically! 5/19/17 It feels so good to donate and when I donated in Africa 2015 for our Ministry I felt so good thats how I know Ministry is my calling and children God Bless every Author&illustrators&Editors and Publishers!!!

  19. I wrote and illustrated my first short graphic novel 6 years ago when I was 50.
    After a writer/mentor said it was tremendous and that I must pursue it, I made the mistake of showing my work to well-meaning family and friends.

    My beloved and trusted family members (and a good friend) gave me the “meh” response. Like so many of you (above) I was hurt and confused. So I grew myself a thicker skin and after some time had passed, shared my excitement for a new idea or new pages I had completed. When I got the same no-comment response, I put the whole thing away.

    Now at 56, I’m trying again. I’m still a bit hurt, but smarter now. My writing life is off-limits to my friends and family. And if something I write ever gets published, it will probably be under a different name.

    1. Oh Betsy, I hope you don’t publish under an anonymous name. Just be you and stop giving a damn about what others think. Well, easier said than done, I know, but what do they know anyway about writing?

  20. At first, I was kind of offended that no one seemed interested in my book (or the next one I’m publishing in a couple months). I’d worked on that first book for years, and this second one has been two years in the making with harrowing, sleep-deprived revision and work. I post art spoilers occasionally for my book that I worked several hours on, and I’d be upset that it doesn’t get as many likes as when I post something trivial like, “Professor: Any questions? Me: Yeah, what the fuck.” But now, I’ve kinda just come to terms that my friends just aren’t into it. Not because they don’t like me or appreciate the hard work I’ve put into it, it’s just… they’re human too, and they have different interests. It kinda hurt with my close friends because I sent four or five of them the manuscript before its release, and none of them read it or left a review, so I was kinda peeved at that. This time, I’m taking a different route and sending it to people who’ve actually asked me. There’s still no guarantee they’ll read it, but it is what it is. We all gotta start somewhere, and it’s a little depressing that I’m getting no publicity or support from my friends, but that’s the reality of it, and there’s no need to get upset at them. I’m sure pretty much every author/artist/whatever has endured this. Unfortunately, people get very little local support for their projects.

  21. Here’s what I’ve decided.
    Each of us has an identity within our family and circle of friends.
    It’s “known”, comfortable, established.
    When we publish a book, it can be unsettling to others.
    It reveals a side of us they may have missed – a smarter, more articulate side.
    We’re no longer the team player they need us to be.
    They may feel jealousy, discomfort or (if they are mentioned in the book) exposed.
    If we are going to continue writing with confidence we have to be strong enough
    to get past our own feelings and put others at ease.
    If they say “I’m looking forward to reading your book…haven’t read it yet etc.”
    don’t respond. Just smile, and ask about them, their family etc.
    They’ll see that you’re still you. It takes a strong, secure person to be able to celebrate
    another’s success. A friend’s weak response says WAY more about them than about your book.
    Thanks for this forum!

  22. I’m glad to see i am not alone. I can one up a lot of you, my own mother has not supported me since i’ve published my books, she’s showed signs of obvious jealousy and it hurt me so bad. As for friends, somevr interested and some r not I didn’t/don’t expect every body on my circle to want to read or support me however irritating when you’ve supported friends and family over yhe years in their endeavors and they can’t/won’t support you in return.

  23. This is water that has to be navigated, and somewhat unexpectedly for me. Do I wish all my closest friends and family would step up and read the book, promote by word-of-mouth, and leave a decent review. Absolutely, I do. Do I expect that will happen? No. But I am still surprised to see who it is that actively supports and who it is that quietly ignores, or only pays lip service to the book.

    My newly published novel went through an early incarnation in ms. form. At the time, I had a smaller group of writer friends, and therefore fewer options for beta readers. I had a small circle of friends who had read a lot of my shorter work (poetry) and all five of them CLAMORED to be able to act as a beta reader for the novel. The upshot? Only one of them actually read it all the way through, and although she made some nice remarks (and seemed to like the story) she failed to answer the simple questionnaire that they all said they’d be happy to fill out after reading.

    Funny thing, though: when I recently made the announcement on Facebook that the novel had launched, one of those old beta readers (NOT the one who actually read the ms.) shared my post, adding that she had read the early draft, and looked forward to reading the finished novel–even though she admitted to me years ago that she had only read a few pages, and had gotten “too busy” to read the rest! She wanted to pretend like she had something to do with the life of the book. *shrug* Oh well…she did spread the word, so that’s a good thing. 🙂

    One last thing: my sister-in-law was talking to my husband on the phone the other night, and her response to my debut novel? “I saw Carla’s book online. The author photo is really nice.” I couldn’t stop laughing about that one. This is a crazy profession. When we all get rich and famous, then they’ll be our biggest cheerleaders, eh? 😉

  24. I’m new to writing, but certainly not to this particular dilemma. I spent my Twenties playing in bands and lost count of the number of friends who promised to come see us play but never quite got round to it.

    I was, like some of you, initially hurt by this but then thought of my own reaction to my friends jobs. I didn’t go and buy sandwiches in Subway because Pete (names changed to protect the now very rich) worked there. Nor did I get my insurance from National Provident because my friend Annie became an account manager. I certainly didn’t buy vintage furniture because my mum was an antique dealer.

    So, I came to appreciate that my friends and family cared enough about me to make the right supportive noises but understood that my job wasn’t something that deserved any greater level of attention than anyone else’s.

  25. I have left all my manuscripts and intellectual property to my daughter in my will – she is the only member of the family who has read all my books ( and loved them) and it was she who suggested I put my books on Amazon Kindle. My husband doesn’t read much anyway and has not read any of my books, but redeemed himself by helping me with Kindle and designing the book covers. If you have ‘real’ books people may feel obliged to buy one, if you are only on kindle, the books cost far less, but it is amazing how few people have e-readers or don’t know how to work their Kindle or download onto their I-pad! .. and that includes friends at writers’ groups.
    As for other relatives … I’m sure if my brother or mother had written a book i would be at least mildly curious. And friends.. .. well I’d rather keep them and only talk about my writing in general terms – but they will say ‘how’s the writing going’ or ‘why don’t you promote it more..’ or ‘I read this really good book the other day..’

  26. Mind you, it can be worse when they do take the trouble to read your books. My second novel, A LIFETIME BURNING lost me three friends. (It was almost four, but we patched things up.) The problem was, I wrote about adult brother-sister incest in a way that showed compassion for the protagonists and their appalling dilemma. I think if I’d actually condemned them, my Christmas card list would now be longer.

    But I was astonished to discover there are still taboos, that there are still things you can write about that will bring out the censor in intelligent, apparently liberal readers.

  27. I think they don’t get round to reading it. Fair enough. I have books that I bought 10 years ago that I’ve never got round to reading. I will one day! It’s not rude to not get round to reading it. People are busy and have other priorities. I get that.

  28. i don’t expect my friends to buy or read my books or be remotely interested in them. They’re proud of me but don’t necessarily dig it and that’s fine. A few bought my book, debuting next week… I expect few to actually read it and even fewer if any to review it. This low expectation keeps me out of my feelings on the subject.

    1. Mine are very proud of me too. They don’t miss an opportunity to let people know that I’ve written a book … and love doing overt promotion for it on my behalf — which is great, because it means I can just stand by coyly as they sing my praises … for a book they haven’t read!

    2. I pray God bless each of us with real huge royalty checks soon! All it takes is God favor and love to move on mankind hearts be encouraged dears! Give a few books away as a donation and then promote! promote! and leap by faith dears!

  29. I certainly wouldn’t expect my friends to read my books. Much of what I write they wouldn’t be at all interested in. The exception is a thriller I wrote a few years ago that lots of my friends have read. The most widespread reaction I get is concern – “what if your family read it?” or “Aren’t you worried what people will thin of you?” I think there’s still a widespread inability to distinguish the author from their works of *fiction* (something I know my erotica writing friends get exasperated by). When pushed on the point, people still come back to “yes but the idea has to come from somewhere, doesn’t it, and where would it come from if there wasn’t something a bit wrong with you?” The concept of imagination seems to be a bit lost on some! Unlike others, I’ve been very lucky not actually to lose any friends though – I just have fewer who’ll share an alley with me after dark

  30. I put my first book out recently, and it’s been surprising and a bit disappointing to find out who reads it and who doesn’t. I’m learning that this too is part of the ‘growing a thicker skin’ that writers must do to survive. It does bother me though, when a friend says “I need to read your blog, your book, or whatever.” I want to say “No, you don’t need to. If you want to great, but please don’t feel you have to read my stuff.” It puts my writing in the same category as that literary novel your English teacher forced you to read. And my writing is most definitely not that!

  31. A “friend” (no longer my friend because of this, among other things) posted on my blog that she couldn’t wait to read my book, then when I asked her what she thought of it told me that she’d only made the post to “get the ball rolling,” and had no intention whatsoever of reading my book. I’m not sure what ball she thought was going to start rolling, or if she thought I was supposed to feel grateful that she’d gotten whatever it was “started,” but I was deeply hurt.

    It doesn’t bother me that she didn’t want to read the book. She could have just said so, and I’d have shrugged and gone on (I’ve done that with other friends — what I write just isn’t their cup of tea, no big deal). What ended our friendship was that she lied to me, whatever her intentions were.

  32. Good post – and one I think a lot of us can probably relate to. After I had a book come out that didn’t do as well as expected, I was chatting to a friend about it and how it perhaps wasn’t as good as I’d thought. She hadn’t read it but she agreed because she mentioned a mutual friend who’d just finished it and told her the book was ‘meh’ – I was more hurt that the second friend couldn’t tell me that to my face though!

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