How to Handle the Holidays as an Aspiring Author

The Holidays can be a wonderful time of family connection or a time of disappointment for aspiring authors.  It can be tricky to know how to best talk about your book or if you should mention it at all.

Some authors share that they face jealousy, criticism, or condensation from family members when they mention their book or online business at family gatherings.

I have a family whom I love dearly. They are wonderful people and we all get along well. However, none of them are ideal readers for my books.

I was crushed the first year I wrote a book.  No one asked about it or seemed very interested when I mentioned it.

How silly of me!

My brothers are engineers, farmers, and teachers.  They are not going to read books for women.  My sisters-in-laws like to read but are not really into self-help books. My adult sons have no interest in spiritual books for women….I would be surprised if they did.  None of my family members are familiar with internet business and really don’t understand how/why I work from home.

I know they love me; they just don’t want to read my books.  That’s OK!  Someday I might write a book that is perfect for them, just now right now.

So, how to best combine your passion and excitement for your book with your family celebrations?

These simple steps will help you navigate this sensitive situation.

  1. Before your holiday events, consider:
  • Do any family members fit the profile of your ideal reader?
  • Are there sibling rivalries left over from childhood?
  • What’s your intention for sharing this information? Is it to share a positive event from your life or to shine brighter than some of your siblings?
  1. At the holiday event, listen first.  Wait until someone asks you how things are going or others have shared something about their lives.  Your intuition will tell when the best time to share your good news.  At Thanksgiving you could say, “I’m so thankful that I’ve made some progress on a dream of mine.  I’m working on a book.”
  2. Then, wait and monitor the response of the group.  If they ask follow up questions, you have a green light to share more about your idea and how excited you are.  If no one is very enthusiastic, let the moment pass.

In most situations, people will be polite and ask a few questions about your project.  Share the big picture ideas but don’t go into too much detail.  It’s easy to get carried away by your enthusiasm and monopolize the conversation.

You might say something like, “Well, I’m really passionate about my work with my coaching clients.  I’ve discovered some ways that people can improve their lives so I’m writing a book based on those discoveries.”

If a family member is genuinely interested and wants to read part of your book, decline this request for now.  It can be very painful when a family member is an early reader of your book and gives you a scathing critique or points out all your spelling errors.  He or she may mean well, but until your book is in its final draft, it is not ready for critiques from others.

Just thank the person for their offer and tell them, “Oh, thanks!  I’d love to take you up on that when the book is further along.  Right now it’s not quite ready to be shared.”

In my experience, family members are great supporters personally but not so helpful book reviewers unless they fit the profile of your ideal reader.  Asking one of them to critique a book that is not written for them can be a recipe for some hard feelings on both sides.

Keep your book in sacred silence until you have finished the first draft.

If you are writing a memoir about painful past experiences, you may not want to mention it at the family dinner table, especially if any family members present could fear they would be portrayed in a bad light.  That bombshell does not mix will with a holiday celebration.  You’ll want to discuss that individually with family members before you go to print.

Enjoy your family celebrations.  They are precious.  Connect with your loved ones and revel in being part of a family.  If the opportunity comes along to share a bit about your book, do so happily.  Just remember that your family isn’t a good focus group for your book.

Happy Holidays!

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