For New Authors About Town

I haven’t done a writing post in a long time. I’ve basically just focused on my own writing and my readers. But, after going to several author events over the last two seasons, I wanted to throw this out there.

What are you reading RIGHT NOW?

Oh, you’re not reading? Nothing? Why not? Reading is the number one way to know what’s hot in your genre, what works for you, what doesn’t work for you, what’s selling, an opportunity to figure out why it’s selling…and the flip side of the market, a chance to look at structure, grammar, voice, pacing, etc.

Not to mention it allows you to understand what is included in each genre and to understand the craft of genre specifically.

WHY are you not reading?

Are you just really excited about what you’re writing so your neck deep in it for the moment? Cool. Carry on.

You’re just not a big reader? Ummmmm…. That’s kind of like saying you’re going to try out for America’s Got Talent and dance, but you’re just going to wing it because you haven’t taken any lessons or made a routine bc…well, you’re just not a big dance person.

Can you name five books you love in your genre?

Can you talk about them intelligently? Can you discuss why and how they influence you? Do you understand why they work in the genre?

These questions are basically: DO YOU KNOW YOUR BUSINESS?

Are you reading outside your genre?

I’ve been doing a lot of this lately and I’m learning a ton.

I hadn’t realized exactly how tight and how well- (and fast-) paced romance had become until I started reading my favorite romance sub-genres without the romance. It was definitely eye-opening and I’m continuing to do it to see what we’re doing and what we’re not –> keeping in mind what I like and can ‘steal’ and what I don’t and should avoid.

Do you know the industry?

Ok, first off, don’t become that person who focuses so much on learning the industry that you’re not finishing your books.

But, are you at least aware of what’s going on in trends, meaning do you know what’s hot, what’s dying, what’s coming out, where the buzz is?

I’m not great at this. Just stick that “I’d Rather Be Writing” bumper sticker on my butt and call it good. But, I do make a point of doing a drive by of lists once a week and following some key industry chatter people.

ALSO, do you understand what’s going on in the industry? Do you know what people are talking about in NY trad pub, small press, and indie/self-publishing? Do you understand the business trends?

Sure, of course there are people who succeed by ignoring everything and just writing a book. They’re few and far between. I know I have my niche genre down and where it fits and how I’m publishing it is right for me and the very few publishers I’d be willing to work with and that my agent is great and what her reach is and when I might need to hire/partner with other people.

I’m not talking about spending HOURS a week doing this. But, staying current is important in any field.

And so, after all my traveling (and still two more conferences to go this month) that’s the feedback I’d offer up to people just diving in right now about a small part of their writing life.


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