About reading work for blurbs and critiques

I get frequent requests to read other people’s work. I’m asked by writers who are hoping for a blurb, or who want me to critique their novel, or hope I’ll send it to my agent, or want money. Here are some guidelines for people who are thinking of asking me to read their books:

1. On the advice of legal counsel, I won’t read unsolicited, unpublished work sent to me. I won’t. Period. So don’t email me a PDF. Don’t stick a manuscript in my mailbox. I won’t read it. Not even if you’re my mom.

2. I do sometimes blurb novels. These must be novels that are published or that are scheduled to be published. But I don’t have time to read everything. There’s a significantly better chance that I’ll read a book if the request comes through an editor and if the book is a suspense novel, mystery, or thriller. There’s a vanishingly small chance that I’ll consider reading a self-published novel. Again, I simply don’t have the hours.

3. I don’t blurb unpublished novels from people hoping for a quote to use when they query agents and editors.

4. I don’t blurb novels in progress. Honestly: asking me to spend 10 hours reading a book–which I then discover is not finished, or which is being revised as I read–is seriously useless to both of us.

5. I rarely read unpublished works with an eye to a critique. I’m a novelist, not an editor; not a book doctor. I earn my living writing my own books. If you need a professional critique, you’re going to have to pay me handsomely and you’re going to have to wait a long, long time. You should hire a professional editor instead, or take a writing class, or join a critique group.

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