lectura-dominical“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that,” Stephen King wrote in his memoir, On Writing.

When I hear from aspiring authors they don’t have time to read, I think about Stephen King’s observation. The likelihood of publication plummets when a writer doesn’t read. It IS that simple.

As a developmental editor my responsibility is to tell it like it is. I am not a cheerleader or psychotherapist. I am not going to tell you what you want to hear. I am going to tell you want you need to hear if your goal is publication. Writers NEED to read.

guyWhen I hear a writer tell me she doesn’t have time to read, I know the writing will reflect that fact.

If you don’t read, how do you know someone hasn’t already written your book? How do you know how to write a book if you don’t study them? Can you tell the difference between a good book and a great one?

Study them as works of literary art.

Study them as products in the marketplace.

Study them from a reader’s perspective.

reading-glassesIf you want to publish a book, consider reading your job. You need to read widely in your genre and deeply in your subject. Study the writing craft found in the classics in the subgenre. Observe the conventions specific to this subgenre. Notice what expectations readers bring to books of this kind. Keep up with current releases and become aware of trends in publishing.

If you want to publish a book, you need to prepare a book proposal which includes a comparative title analysis. This requires you read the most recent bestselling books that the readers of your book would be reading today. Your ability to identify the market competition depends on avid reading.

seo search engine optimization for authorsReading is not optional. Reading is the first step toward writing. You can’t be a writer and not read.

And aspiring authors need to think about leveraging their reading practice into an audience platform. When you read a book, write about it. Write a review on GoodReads, LibraryJournal, Amazon, and your blog. Let the author know you’ve read the book and posted a review.

If you want to be an author, be a reader first.

What’s on your summer reading list?

4 thoughts on “Reading is your Job

  1. I can’t agree more, Jill. Almost everything I’ve learned about writing I’ve learned by reading. And I’ve noticed too that after reading a book, I think like that author for a week afterwards; my brain produces thoughts in that author’s writing style. If I read Twain, I think like Twain. If I read Barbara Tuchman, I think like Tuchman. Does that happen to you? So sometimes I read not only for the content, but to get my style-juices flowing.

    • Yes, Ann Marie Ackermann, I’ve noticed this and so have others. Harold Bloom wrote an essay, “The Anxiety of Influence,” in which he observes this phenomena. Let the influences be good ones. Read great books by masters of the writing craft.

  2. I’m sure you were talking about me – the one who didn’t have time to read. But because you pounded this lesson into my head three years ago, I started to take my reading very seriously. I also got several audio books to help deal with learning disabilities. I need to thank you for getting me started on reading memoirs. Memoir has become my favorite genre. And you are right – there is so much to be learned exploring the works of others’. Cheers to you, Jill.

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