Reasons novelists should read

The problem with being a novelist who doesn’t read

Do you know your business? It’s all very romantic to claim that as a novelist, you’re a creative spirit with no head for the mundanities of business and marketing. The truth is that no agent or publisher wants to work with a clueless aspirant, and no self-published title will make it without an understanding of what you’re selling.

As a novelist, reading should be a way of life for you. You need to know your literary roots. You need to understand the current scene in the genre you write in. You need to understand how the publishing industry works and how you plan to make your way through it.

Nobody’s going to coach you through all of that. And that means reading.

Reasons to read

It turns out that aspiring authors aren’t the only ones struggling to come to grips with keeping up. Self-taught scientists, too, find themselves at a disadvantage when they don’t do the reading. “My clients know so little about current research in physics, they aren’t even aware they’re in a foreign country,” writes article author Sabine Hossenfelder. “They have no clue how far they are from making themselves understood. Their ideas aren’t bad; they are raw versions of ideas that underlie established research programmes. But those who seek my advice lack the mathematical background to build anything interesting on their intuitions.

“I try to help them by making connections to existing research. During our conversations, I point them towards relevant literature and name the important keywords. I give recommendations on what to do next, what they need to learn, or what problem lies in the way. And I make clear that if they want to be taken seriously by physicists, there’s no way around mathematics, lots of mathematics.”

The lesson for authors, of course, is to substitute “reading” for “mathematics” in the above equation.

Reading list for novelists

Fortunately, getting started studying craft titles, literature, and new releases is as simple and inexpensive as a trip to your local library. Once you begin to discover what’s going on around you, you’ll find more and more reasons to read.

Here’s how to start.

Read other novels: 10 kinds of books authors should be reading right now Newly updated!

Study the craft of writing: Recommended craft titles for fiction writers

Lisa Poisso, Editor and Book Coach

Understanding how stories work changes everything. I’ll show you how to back up your creative instincts so your ideas hit home. It’s time to accelerate your journey from aspiring writer to emerging author. 

Ready to get serious about your book? Apply to work with me.

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