Occasionally someone will ask me to read their work and either comment or tell them where they should submit it. Some of these folks I know, some I don’t. It’s flattering to be asked, but my answer is: no. I could describe my reasoning in great detail, but the inimitable John Scalzi has a far better article than I do.
On rare occasion, I make the mistake of saying “yes, I’ll look at your work.” One of the following will result.
- I will give you my honest opinion of your first page. You will respond by dedicating the rest of your life to making me miserable.
- I will give you the metaphorical equivalent of a pat on the head.
- I will say you lack the fire.
- I will tell you that publishers require sentence to have both a noun and a verb, and that you cannot use emoticons in published work.
- I will “accidentally” erase your manuscript, your email, and my hard drive, so that I can honestly claim that losing your work was part of a much larger accident.
- I will put off looking at your work in favor of paying work or spending time with my family. I will feel increasingly guilty about this. I will begin avoiding you. The importance and difficulty of evaluating your work will grow in my mind until it assumes unbearable proportions. I will take a week out of my life to evaluate your work thoroughly. By this time you will have married your third spouse, adopted four feral children and a platypus, and moved to Aruba to fulfill your lifelong dream of being a beachcomber.
Note that none of these result in you getting anything you want.
If you really want to get my opinion, I suggest you either pick a response you like, or roll a die.