Everyone's read this expletive-laden Village Voice piece about why amateur script-writers should never ask professionals to read their scripts. And a lot of authors object to reading strangers' unpublished manuscripts for the same reasons (roughly summed up as: the hugely time-consuming, hellish acrobatics that go into writing a "casual" 3-line e-mail response that will convey the author's honest opinion—often a negative opinion—without sounding like a jerk).
Today while cruising around YA author websites, INTERN came across the "can I show you my manuscript?" question in Aprilynne Pike's FAQ. Her answer:
"I actually get this a lot. If your work is unpublished, the answer is almost always no. I can't review unpublished material simply because I have to protect myself and my family from potential liability."
Now this is a whole 'nother ballgame indeed, and one INTERN had never considered.
In a time when it seems like everybody and their pet iguana is trying to sue successful authors for stealing their ideas, said successful authors have good reason to put their hands over their eyes and sing "LA-LA-LA-LA-LA!" when unpublished writers try to show and/or tell them about their *awesome* idea for a book. The potential for getting sued is real, and it is a frigging shame.
Published authors don't have a duty to read strangers' manuscripts any more than famous chefs have a duty to eat and comment on strangers' attempts at coq au vin, Texas-style. But it's sort of heart-breaking that authors who otherwise seem like they might be happy to take a look at the odd manuscript cannot, for fear of legal quagmires that could threaten their family's financial security.
INTERN would like to know: have any of you ever asked a published author (with whom you are not personally acquainted) to take a look at your manuscript? What was the response? Have you ever agreed to read someone's ms?