Good writers dedicate their time to three fundamental activities: writing, reading, and disseminating their work. For us writers, writing is a passion, while giving our work is a necessity of the first order. But these two activities often lead us to postpone the fundamental pillar of literary work: reading. Reading is the raw material of our formation as authors. As children, before we learn to write the first letters, we learn to read them.
As time goes by, some children and youngsters get a taste for reading and become fans. Many of them discover in every book they read an invitation to launch themselves into the fascinating world of letters: “I love books, why don’t I write one myself?
1. Books related to your niche
This type of reading promotes conscious learning about the specific genre you write. Let’s say you are a nonfiction writer. Nonfiction books should be didactic, persuasive, and, above all, easy to read. Reading many works of this type will be a kind of gymnastics for your mind, gradually getting to know the writing guidelines followed by the great masters of the genre such as Wayne Dyer and Dale Carnegie.
If, on the other hand, you write science fiction, you will find inspiration for your work by reading works of that genre: how to approach the beginning of the text to catch the reader, how to distribute the parts of the story according to the taste of today’s fiction readers? The answers to these and many other questions are hidden in the great classics of science fiction: Journey to the Center of the Earth, I, Robot, 2001: A Space Odyssey, etc.
You can also read various examples of specialized essays if you need a broader understanding of the topic you are writing about. Is the paperhelp a good service to find lots of essay samples written by highly qualified authors? Definitely yes.
If we are realistic, it is much better to read books that serve as a guide and source of inspiration than to have to discover or invent the rules of the genre by yourself, something you can hardly do on your own unless you are preparing to be the next Nobel Prize in Literature.
2. Books that improve your style
In addition to specific training in the writing guidelines specific to your niche, you need to develop proficiency as a writer in a broad sense. The best thing you can do to achieve this is to read classics, monuments of literature of all times.
Even if you write books of self-knowledge, it will do you a lot of good to read The Iliad, Hamlet, Don Quixote, Crime and Punishment, The Mocker of Seville, Commentaries on the Gallic War, Aesop’s fables, Voltaire’s novels, Poe’s short stories, and so on. Books mentioned above, among many others, have caused a resounding impact on universal culture and have transformed humanity’s intellect. Reading the classics will enrich your experience as a human being.
3. Books by contemporary authors
Going to the classics is a great decision, but don’t live in the past. Read contemporary authors, and you will know the current market, the literary fashions, what is present, and where your potential readers’ interest is. Imagine you are a doctor, and you insist on practicing your profession in the manner of the ancient Greeks. Ridiculous, isn’t it?
If you refuse to learn about current literary trends, you will be isolated, and your book will be obsolete before it is published. Set the thermometer at the peak of the publishing market. Go window shopping and pay attention to what’s displayed in the most visible places.
Check the ranking of the most popular books in your country or in your language.
All these sources will give you valuable information to identify the most important books of the moment and, at least, take a look at them. You’ll be surprised how many lessons you can learn by reading your contemporaries.
4. Books that give you pleasure
At this point, we would like to take a cultural stand. In today’s society, there are a lot of easy stimuli that have gradually cornered reading into utilitarianism. Now people read just to get a result. This is the current reality, but we encourage you to break the stereotypes and do your bit to reverse the trend.
Read not only like a writer but also for simple pleasure, as our parents and grandparents did, as you did yourself in adolescence.
The readings suggested in the previous points are a proven strategy to succeed as a writer. But reading for pleasure goes beyond that. It is “art for art’s sake”, without apparent motives, without thinking about obtaining a practical result.
Reading for pleasure is getting excited when the poem’s verses run through your body’s nerves when you finish a chapter of a novel desperate to know how the protagonist’s adventure will end?
From this perspective, the practical purpose of reading is put aside. You no longer care if the book will help you in your training as a writer, allow you to improve your style, or give you information about the latest news in the publishing market. Read for the sake of it. Let yourself be seduced by the beautiful sensation of forgetting the world around you in the company of a good book.
Combine all of the above options
Focusing your readings only on a niche, an era, a theme, or the achievement of practical ends is a counterproductive attitude for independent authors seeking publishing success.
The world of books is too big, and pigeonholing yourself into a tiny part of it will be detrimental to your writing (and your sales, too!).
Never reject any book out of hand. It’s fine to be interested in your niche and focus on learning the history of your chosen genre as a writer. But keep your criteria broad and open to the unknown. That’s how you should read as an open-minded writer.
The important thing for an independent author is to always strike a good balance between your readings by combining pleasure, education, and up-to-date information about your writing niche and the work of your contemporaries.
Now that you know these criteria, we propose a challenge: choose one book of each kind (one from your niche, one classic, one contemporary, and one that gives you pleasure) and submit to read them all in the period you think is convenient. It can be four months, one per book. That will depend on your schedule and your reading pace.