Saturday, February 1, 2014


As an agent, there is so much to read that there is the danger of primarily reading clients' manuscripts and requested fulls via queries, rather than published books. I've done it, other agents and editors tell me that they've done it, and writers, I wonder if you are doing the same regarding reading more unpublished than published words per month.

What I have found is that I am much more successful at choosing salable manuscripts if I stick to a discipline I discovered when I first started agenting, to always first read a fabulous, strong-selling published book in the genre of the unpublished WIP waiting on my e-reader.

For example, I have a client's WIP waiting for me that is contemporary boy mc. It is not a weepy book or a book in which anyone is sick, however I am reading THE FAULT IN OUR STARS right now (and LOVING IT!) because it is generally in the same genre and when I finish TFIOS, my taste radar will be on such a higher plane than if I simply started my clients WIP post Thanksgiving turkey leg. What I am saying here is that I am not comparing one book to the other, rather I am lifting both my conscious and subconscious reading eye so that when I go to read the WIP, I will more easily 'feel' its flaws as well as its shiny goodness.

Writers, I hope you are doing the same--reading well-written, strong-selling books that raise your game as a writer, as well as a reviser.

I'd love to hear what you are all reading, as well as genre.

Sign up for A PATH TO PUBLISHING online face-to-face writing workshops. Wether you choose the NOVEL TRACK or the PICTURE BOOK TRACK, our goal is ensure you understand concept, plotting, character development, scene development, action and emotional arc development, as well has how to pitch your work to agents, editors, and readers.


  1. I write primarily NA/A Romantic Fantasy, so I'm not reading MG. I just love it that you said 'shiny goodness.' I'm currently reading Scarlet, by Stephen R. Lawhead for the fantasy side of things and just finished a romance by Ainsley Patton. I'd take it a step further. If you can land a critique partner, that writes solid strong work, it ups your game even further.

  2. Very interesting to hear how your process works. Like you, I'm currently reading The Fault in Our Stars, but for an upcoming workshop with Kathi Appelt. I just finished Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, a historically-inspired MG by the fabulous Gary D. Schmidt. One of the best features of VCFA's MFA in writing for kids/ya is that you're required to study exemplary writing and apply the *how* behind published works to your own writing. Thanks for the intriguing post!

  3. Great advice! Sometimes we writers forget why we started writing in the first place: because we love great books!

  4. I write historical romance and my debut Moonstone Obsession was published in late October.

    Of the genre writers, I read Anna Campbell, Philippa Gregory and early Rebecca Brandewyn but most of my favourite leisure reading is the classics - Wilkie Collins, Agatha Christie, Thomas Hardy, the Brontes, GK Chesterton is a new (to me) favourite.

  5. What excellent advice - advice I absolutely need to take! Thanks!

  6. I love this advice! Particularly because it totally validates my process. Every time I finish a draft or a revision of my own mss, or finish critiquing a ms for a critique partner, I read 2 or 3 published books before diving into the next thing. It helps reset my mind and put me into the right frame of mind to approach the next manuscript with fresh eyes. :)

  7. Luckily for me I just left the classroom (2nd grade) and I have two granddaughters (ages 1 and 3), so I do have lots of reading material. What I'm trying to discipline myself to do is to read currently published work, not just the classics (which are so hard to pass up). And solely for my own enjoyment, I belong to an adult book club which keeps me up to date on adult literature as well.

  8. That sounds like a great way to prepare for a submission.

  9. That's how I prepare for revision my MS too!

  10. I'm very careful in what I'm reading when writing. While working on my humorous MG, I read one of Maggie Stiefvater's books with a very emotional scene. Then I wrote a beautiful, but not story appropriate scene. Had to cut, but I did save it!

  11. I totally agree! Reading great books definitely helps my writing: first, it makes me see the suckage in my own work, which isn't fun but it's good, as long as I don't get stuck there; second, it helps me aim higher (this is the moving-out-of-the-abyss-of-my-suckage part of the process); and third, it broadens my thinking and helps me see new creative possibilities. Of course, even without these benefits, great books are good soul-food: delicious and nutritious. ;)

    Currently reading COUNTING BY 7s.

  12. I loved COUNTING BY 7's!

    My favorite recent YA read: OUT OF NOWHERE by Maria Padian.

    Recent PB: MAPLE by Lori Nichols.


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