Originally Posted by Stephen Palmer
My advice is "never use family or friends!"
My advice is always use family and friends – although it does depend on the family and the friends!
I've tried writers groups, online sources, and it's been of very limited use. People who don't care about me just aren't prepared to read chapter after chapter, line by line. And unless a reader sees your work in breadth and detail, and truly comes to appreciate your characters' voices, they can't judge properly.
Will family and friends only tell you what you want to hear? Not if you tell them what you need, and if they truly care about your long term interests.
Finally, I'd never compare myself to Joe Abercrombie, but: http://www.joeabercrombie.com/2012/04/28/readers/