Friends—if you wish to keep them as friends—are best left in the “cheerleader” category when you’re writing. When a writer finishes a book, she will often ask friends and family to “read my book!” Seriously, folks, this could lead to the breakup of longtime friendships, estrangement from family members, and the end of the world as we know it.
When you ask a friend to read your book (after publishing) and tell you what he thinks of it, you’re putting him in a precarious place. In the best-case scenario, your book is good, he likes it, and he offers to post a review of it online. Worst-case scenario? There are two of them. Both can result in awkwardness and discomfort, premature wrinkling, and gastrointestinal distress.
On one hand, the friend reads your book and doesn’t like it but is afraid to tell you because he doesn’t want to hurt your feelings. He lies, says your book is great, but feels uncomfortable whenever you call upon him in conversation to promote it to others, review it, or speak about it at all.
On the other hand, if he reads it and is honest with you about not liking it—due to plot, creativity, punctuation errors, lack of editing, or cover design—you may become defensive and angry, vowing to never ask that no-good former friend for anything, ever again. Even if you smile your way through it, you will never look at that person the same way.
Friends don’t ask friends for book reviews.