Why Writers Need to Be Readers
When I tell people that I read 184 books last year, it never fails to get a reaction. “That’s so much!” “I could never read that much.” When these people are my fellow writers, I always want to ask them one question.
How much do you read?
The reality is that if you are a writer, you should also be a reader for three very important reasons.
1. You need to know what is being published today.
|A childhood favorite, but not what is|
being published today.
If your favorites are more than just a few years old, and you want to sell your writing, you need to learn what publishers are buying now in terms of both style and subject. This means that you have to read.
2. You need to know your competition.
Whatever it is that you want to write, whether it is nonfiction picture books or adult romance novels, you need to know your competition. Read the authors your work will compete with and save yourself from submitting something that is too close to either Kelly Milner Hall’s Aliens book or Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters series.
You can’t tell an editor that your book is original if you don’t know what other people are writing. Read what your competitors have published in the last 3 years.
3. You need to perfect your craft.
Obviously, if you want to be a writer, you need to write.
Another way to work on your craft is to read. Do this to see how other writers introduce characters, kick up the tension and pull readers into previously unknown settings. Read picture books to see how writers can tell stories, develop characters and surprise the reader in 500 words or less. Read nonfiction to see how writers enable modern readers to identify with various historical figures while keeping these figures 100% real and accurate.
Unless you read, you cannot write and submit with authority. They question you need to ask yourself isn’t if you have time to read but how you can afford not to read.
In addition to writing her own nonfiction, SueBE is teaching the upcoming WOW! course Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults.