I find your lack of books disturbing
The other week, another writer made a simple statement on Twitter. To sum it up: writers who want to be published should read at least one book that was published within the past five years. Reasonable suggestion, no? Here’s why a very good reason to be up to date on reading:
Literary agents (and some small presses) want comp titles from the past five years. If you don’t know what to compare your book to, well, that makes something really difficult (querying) even more so.
No one’s putting a gun to your head, but you are shooting yourself in the foot if you don’t read modern works.
Maybe you’re reading this blog and you’re not a writer. Maybe you’re a doctor. Doctors need to read and keep themselves up-to-date on breakthroughs in medicine and new procedures. I know I want my doctor to. You can relate to this post, then, and I don’t need to convince you. Same deal if you’re a film critic. No one wants to hear reviews on just old movies. The time has passed. We’ve probably seen the movie, read the review, and are now onto the seventh remake.
That’s not to say you can’t read the old books/study old methods in medicine/watch old movies. They’re part of why we’ve arrived where we are today. Some make the case that Huckleberry Finn is the cornerstone for all modern fiction (never read it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some book/author out there that we all are influenced by somehow.) It’s good to know our roots. But knowing our roots without seeing where we are and where we’re going? That’s a bit like walking backward, isn’t it?
Sure you can be a writer/doctor/film critic/whatever without studying modern books/medicine/films/what-have-you. If you can do it well, my hat’s off to you.
What’s your passion? Do you believe in keeping up-to-date? If not, why? (Please be courteous in the comments, and refrain from using the non-argument/lie: “All books are trash nowadays.” If you believe that, I believe you’re probably in the wrong business.)
Keep your nose in a book,
2 thoughts on “Authors Need to Read Recent Fiction”
Good point, Beth. There are aspects of storytelling that are timeless, and one can still learn from Huck Finn — but you’re right: if you want to sell something in the current market, you have to have some idea what the current market is reading. (And I’m talking to myself too: it’s too easy, especially at a certain age, to spend time with old favorites and miss out on the new releases!)
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