Yesterday, after thoughtful help from hubby with the copying etc., I sent out my manuscript to my three remaining readers, Emily and Katie having had a sneak preview.
I have broken some rules.
Rule No. 1: A reader should not be a close member of the family
The wisdom behind this is that they won't want to upset the writer, so will pin a happy smile on their face and pretend it was wonderful. Well, let me introduce my daughter to you all. Emily - the Queen of the Straight Talkers and very much her undiplomatic father's daughter. She is also spending lots of time pretending to be a cow at the moment (no, not a 'cow' a cow as in a milk), so needs something to do while my baby granddaughter thinks she actually is one.
Rule No. 2: A reader should actually like reading
Emily's never been much of a reader. When she was six/seven she was such a little perfectionist (again like her father) she wouldn't try anything unless she knew she could do it. Reading out loud was her worst nightmare. Enter scary teacher who forced her to do it in front of whole class even though she cried real tears. Result: one little girl who started out quite liking to read to herself quietly, but ended up at the age of seven being so scared of not being able to read out loud it put her right off.
Rule No. 3: A reader should not be a teacher (broke that one twice)
Enter very nice teacher who understood perfectly what poor little seven/eight-year old Emily was going through and made her laugh with Roald Dahl and Michael Rosen. (I don't think I ever thanked you for that, N, did I?) N is also one of my readers and I'm really grateful to her. She's a colleague of Emily's, although they teach in different schools, and that's how I've ended up with two teachers.
Rule No. 4: A reader of women's fiction should be a woman
But he's my best buddy and makes me nice cups of tea on a Thursday lunchtime and really doesn't notice if my hair is a mess or I've just taken my shoes off and put my feet up on his sofa without realising.
Rule No. 5: A reader should not be, just possibly, the cleverest person in the whole world with an IQ of about 200
But he knows what long words mean and can read (some) Hebrew and other clever languages like Latin and Greek. He does the cryptic crossword in the Guardian every day. Okay - I know 'The White Cuckoo' will be like Janet and John compared to the literary stuff he's usually got his nose in, but A's a bloke and there are blokes in my novel.
Rule No. 6: Readers should not be your daughter-in-law to be
Okay. Okay! I know. I know. She might hold it against me and tell my future grandchildren what a nutcase their granny is to even think she just might get published. But then again, I could earn lots of Brownie points and be a fab mother-in-law for trusting her with my precious manuscript. Not so daft after all, am I?
Rule No. 7: Readers should not be a work colleague
Well, H did a good job with Novel No. 1 didn't she? And M did offer! She's such a scatterbrain, though, I hope she doesn't leave it on the bus or anything.
So now it's being read by five people. This has got to be the worst bit of all. It is far, far worse than knowing that total strangers are reading your work.
Once I've got all the comments back I'll do another complete edit, or rewrite if necessary, and then send it to my agent.