Pub Rants

Reading For Fun

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STATUS: Working on a contract.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? BEEN CAUGHT STEALING by Jane’s Addiction

I’m not sure why but writers are sometimes surprised that agents read for fun. Granted, we don’t have a whole lot of extra time to read for pleasure but all of us still do it.

So of course we read for fun. After all, it’s this passion that got us into the biz to begin with. Not to mention, in a slightly off-beat way, it’s also part of our job to stay current on recent releases. We track what’s hot and why. We read what hits the bestseller lists or what is getting a lot of buzz.

This becomes super important when reading partials. Why? Well, there are leaders in each genre and try as they might, some writers can’t help but be a little derivative of the leaders in their field. It might be unconscious—the mimicking of a premise or a world building construct or what have you.

As agents, we need to spot this. We need a work to be wholly original and not just a really well done copy of something that’s currently out there.

How else can we know this unless we read?

So what’s currently on my nightstand? Scott Westerfeld’s UGLIES. My sister-in-law, a Middle School Principal, has been raving about how much she loves these books and how my nieces really enjoyed them as well.

With these endorsements, it behooves me to pick it up and see what the fuss is all about.

23 Responses

  1. Zany Mom said:

    I’m in the middle of reading Captain Underpants and the Night of the Nasty Nostril Nuggets with my 8 yr old son. Actually he reads and I laugh. 😉 Not my usual genre, but far more entertaining than I thought when I first picked one up.

  2. Joelle said:

    I’m reading Joan Bauer’s Rules of the Road. I accidentally read the sequel first – Best Foot Forward. Still, I’m enjoying it immensely and loved BFF too. I read 2-4 YA per week.

  3. Kanani said:

    We tend to need to think of agents as ruthless workaholics who always have their nose to the grindstone, tossing rejects into the fire, while the acceptable ones get stirred into your boiling cauldron, only to emerge at a later date transfigured into a novel, albeit, a bit changed.

    So please, I don’t want to hear that you do ANYTHING for fun. No, I need to think of you as the good witch from the midwest who masquerades as an agent.

  4. Kristin B said:

    Ha, maprilynne, I just finished reading it the other day. Getting ready to order the other two if I can get that damn Borders gift card to work.

    Great book. I highly recommend it.

  5. ORION said:

    I really have to struggle to keep up with what is current yet not be influenced or derivative in my own writing. It is rare when I can just let go and read for pleasure. When that happens I know I have found something really special.

  6. katiesandwich said:

    This is one of the perks of being a writer. I don’t have to feel guilty about reading a good book and neglecting my dishes. It’s my job to know what’s out there!

    If only I could convince my husband…

  7. Diana Peterfreund said:

    I discovered Scott Westerfeld when Uglies first came out and I loved it so much I ran out and got my hands on everything he’s written and devoured it all. I also recommend his other series, Peeps and Midnighters, as well as his non-paranormal standalone, So Yesterday.

    He’s a fabulous writer. I’m not surprised at all that he’s been hitting all the lists.

  8. Sam said:

    I read and write in about equal parts. I’m reading ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ right now, and I’m glued to the book.
    Excuse me as I stop blogging to go back to read!

  9. Lara said:

    My agent liked to occasionally recommend certain books, because they either had elements similar to my story, or he just wanted me to know what was “out there” (aka the “competition”) and wanted to share. He was very well-read in his genres that he represented, and I think I respected him more for that.

    I would think a Lit agent who doesn’t read what’s out there for fun, makes about as much sense as a horse trainer who never bothers to ride a horse.

  10. Dragonfly said:

    Happy Friday! I’m new to this blog and apologize if posing the following question is inappropriate.

    I was fortunate enough to land an agent for my first novel and we worked together for a few months before she became too “busy”.

    So, when I query agents should I mention this experience and the fact that my novel has been submitted to a few publishing houses (obviously with no success)?

    I welcome any input . . .

  11. Edie said:

    I recently read Jayne Ann Krentz’s WHITE LIES, and it was terrific. Now I’m reading and enjoying Erica Orloff’s MAFIA CHIC.

    I’ll have to check out the UGLIES. Thanks for the heads up.

  12. --E said:

    I’m always impressed when editors tell me they were reading such-and-such a book, which is published by another company.

    I work on the production end at a large publisher, and it was startling how quickly my desire to read for fun was killed by entering the industry. When I go home, the last thing I want to see is another damn book. (Of course, I have an apartment full of them, and I keep buying them. This is how “addiction” is defined, isn’t it?)

  13. cm allison said:

    if you and your agent have “parted ways”, and you are starting the search all over, Miss Snark had an entire write up on this very event recently on her blog. I can’t speak not being an agent, but she is.
    Perhaps Dear Kristin will also respond?

  14. B.E. Sanderson said:

    Thanks. Now I have that song stuck in my head. ;o)

    I’m glad to hear you get time to read for pleasure. It’s hard to take time for anything pleasureable when you’re up to your armpits in work. Which reminds me… I have to finish that Alan Dean Foster anthology I started a few months ago.

  15. Candace said:

    Hey there,
    just have a huge question that has been buggin’ tha heck out of me.
    Here is my situation.

    I am a fashion artist/designer. I have been exposed on TV, magazines and newspapers. Many boutiques and private clients have bought my designs. Ok, anyway, last week at at CHA (it is the largest convention in the craft world) I got approached by 2 editors from very large publishing companies
    Krause Publications and Watson-Guptill Publications. Both are very excited about me and have asked me to write proposals for several craft manuscripts. So I did
    which I gave them each about 3 book ideas with the sonopsis included (did I spell that right?). Do I need an agent to rep me and if so can you let me know what to do.

  16. Keybo said:

    How many books do you all read a week? Do you all stick to your own genre or branch out often?

    I’m just curious how many of you read for your ‘job’ as much as for fun.

  17. Liane Gentry Skye said:

    I’ve been dying to read UGLIES, but I didn’t want to touch until my YA was done, since I’m told there’s a similiar theme involved. Think I’ll dig in this weekend now that there’s no fear of UGLIES seeping into my work.