The worst thing about being a writer is finding time to read. I seems paradoxical that a love of reading led to the desire to write and now I haven’t got time to read. Of course I have lots of friends that are writers and I want to read what they are putting out. There are friends that want me to ‘test-read’ their new stories. We try to keep up but I am falling further and further behind…
Then there are any number of new authors that want me to read their work. This is much less a problem for me than it is for many of my more experienced and more widely published friends. I have an acquaintance that gets about one unsolicited manuscript a week. She’s not an editor or publisher, she’s an author. What are these people expecting? That she is going to drop everything in her busy life to read their unedited manuscript? From someone she doesn’t know and has never heard of? And what, in the name of God’s Butt made them think that a science-fiction author would be interested in reading a gay men’s romance?
Sometimes these folks are well-meaning and are genuinely looking for helpful criticism from someone that has ‘made it.’ As if we have. Some times they are looking for validation, simple reassurance that they can, in fact, write. But most often what they are looking for is a ‘foot in the door.’ For someone that is published to recommend their work to an editor or literary agent or something that will help them sell their story. They are looking for the ‘easy way’ to get published.
It doesn’t work that way. News flash, people. There is no ‘easy way.’ My editor couldn’t care less about my opinions of other peoples stories. He barely cares about my opinions about my stories. Now, don’t get me wrong, he’s great to work with. Very helpful and professional. But he’s even busier than we are.
So, I am going to do everyone a favor here- stop sending your stories to authors. Send them to people that read the kind of stories that you write- your target audience is actually interested in your story and much more likely to have time to read it. Send it to people that you don’t know well, because they’ll be more likely to give you an honest opinion and a useful critique. And for the love of God have it edited and proof-read before you do. This will be hugely more productive and helpful than sending it randomly to ‘published authors’ who probably don’t have time to read it anyway.