Over the course of my writing journey, I have made some new friends, gathered insight about the industry (as well as myself,) and have participated in many group forums on social media. All of it has been great, but the latter has made me ponder recently about what makes an author truly successful.
I’m not the only who thinks this. Everyday, aspiring writers are posting to these forums with questions that make me cringe. Most of these questions are elementary like “what makes a strong character,” “how does one go about world building” or my personal favorite “what makes a good story?”
While these are good questions to ask to gain the opinions of many others, I feel like it is futile when trying to write their own story, and instead are short-cutting themselves into trying to “make it” in the industry.
And so I come to the disturbing conclusion of the majority of all new writers out there:
No one, repeat, no one is actually reading!
All those questions asked can be answered if they actually picked up a book and read it. And I’m not talking about Harry Potter, The Hobbit or Twilight, but other books that their own peers have written. It’s a rudimentary fact that writing and reading go hand-in-hand, and someone should be just as much a reader as a writer—a thief can only catch a thief.
The people answering these questions as well are not any better. They come back with answers referencing Tolkien. Yes, he fathered the modern day fantasy genre, but there are so many other imaginative writers out there that have expanded upon it like Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, Terry Goodkind, and Neil Gaiman. It’s rare I see these awesome authors not getting the recognition they deserve by fantasy fans. And let us not forget others like Bram Stoker, Robert Louis Stevenson, Homer, and the one who ever came up with Beowulf from our history.
I feel like if one is writing a novel, they should have at least three books recently read under their belt to get a grasp for what and how to write a story. Reading is research, and while you may not get the specific answer you are looking for, you may stumble upon more than you initially desired. That’s half of the joy of reading—finding the mental gems.
They’re stabbing themselves in the foot, too. They expect that someone should read their book while they aren’t buying and reading any themselves. The staggering majority of these people who put a book out there then have extremely poor sales, and end up begging others to buy their book (trust me I have seen this) and when that fails, they end up giving it out for free.
I feel like the golden rule should apply here: treat others how you would want to be treated. Except maybe we should amplify that when it comes to the industry: treat others by reading their stuff before you make your own by at least three books. It’s nothing else but respect.