Hey writers, Annette here. I have a very important piece of advice for you today. Very important. So important and so obvious, you may have overlooked it. Lots of writers already do it. Can’t help themselves really. It comes naturally. And it makes sense since it’s of interest to them.
What is it?
Read in your genre. Read a lot in your genre.
I’ve known a few writers over the years who were trying to publish their own manuscripts, but who boastfully proclaimed they hadn't read extensively in their chosen genre. Honestly, that just left them at a disadvantage, playing "catch up" when their editors asked for changes because they weren't familiar with what's out there.
When's the right time to read? Right now. Whether you're published or not, you can always benefit from reading in your genre.
Here’s what you gain:
~ Intel. You get to see firsthand what publishers are acquiring. That’s really helpful information. When/If you pitch to them later, you can site that specific book or series. Editors appreciate knowing you’ve read their house’s novels.
~ Wisdom. Writing workshops and how-to manuals teach you a lot. But reading, seeing those lessons on the page (or screen, for e-book readers) teaches you as well. Plus, it’s entertaining. Study how the author accomplished everything you find in those pages. For example, say you’re reading along and suddenly you’re crying because you’re so wrapped up in the story. Go back and figure out exactly how the writer got you, as the reader, to cry. What did she do? How did he do it? Then, incorporate your new lessons into your own writing. Also, by reading in your genre, you see how the author(s) set the tone of the novel, set the mood for the story, stayed true to the genre. And then you can do the same.
~ Reader’s perspective. You’re a writer, but you’re also a reader. While you’re reading someone else’s book, you’re experiencing something similar to what readers will experience when they read your book(s). As a reader, what are your expectations of books in your favorite genre? Now, as a writer, go to your own manuscript and incorporate those elements into your story. Giving readers what they want is a great way to garner their loyalty. Loyal readers are contagious. They talk up your books to their friends and suddenly, you’ve got more readers. Let the buzz begin!
~ Your own voice. Reading extensively helps us develop our own voice. Even if you have a well-established writing voice, reading will help you hone that voice. Ironically, you'll become more of an original, and that's what editors are looking for.
Read everything you can, and stay up-to-date with what’s being released. That way, you know the current trends as well. (Like how POV rules have changed over the years, or which house is looking for historical romance versus contemporary romance, for example.)
So, my writing friends, read on!