Lately I've been considering who to give my novel to when it's finished. Do I give it to my family? Friends? Peers? Try and find an agent or editor to read it?
My first question is going to be this, who is my audience? If my family reads the type of book I write and can give me an honest review then yeah! Why wouldn't I? But if they're not my audience, if they don't have any interest in the things that I write then as supportive as they are they're not the right people to give it to.
So what about friends? Again, audience is a huge aspect of it. With friends though you have to remember which friend you're giving it to. Are they going to be able to tell me not only an honest review but one that is going to be constructive in its criticisms and specific in the things that work and that they like? If they're not or if they're not into that kind of book do I really want them to be reading it? And if they don't like it will they be afraid to tell me for the sake of our friendship? Consider your audience and the people you're giving the work to, if you don't think you can take what they have to say, they're probably not the best person to give it to. Again, even if they're super supportive that may not be what you're looking for.
Your peers (other writers) who have shown a good ability to take and receive criticism (which could also be your friends), and who are interested in the genre you're writing is perhaps one of the best ways to share your work and get very good feedback. The only problem with this avenue that I've found is that sometimes your peers forget that they shouldn't be editing your voice along with the rest of their critique. I've definitely been guilty of that in the past and I've been learning how awful it can be if you don't pay attention to that. When you're critiquing someone else's work you're not supposed to make it yours. Don't change the language but highlight what you don't understand. If you've got some awesome peers? Then this is definitely one of the better ways to go in my estimation.
The editor? An awesome option right? Someone who's professional, who knows to edit your grammar and to clarify your story and language. There's only one problem. They can be expensive! You're definitely paying someone to do the work and if you can afford it awesome! Make sure you talk to them first and that you're clear about what you expect from them and what they're willing to give you for the price they're asking. I've heard a lot of horror stories as well as good stories in regards to this version.