I have an author friend who refuses to read any book in the genre she’s writing in—ever! She says she doesn’t want to be influenced by the writing of others. That she’s afraid she’ll be rejected if she sounds too much like someone else. That she wants to be a “fresh, new voice” in her genre. To me, this is just ridiculous (and we’ve had more than one heated discussion about this). What do you think?
I agree with you. I’ve heard this argument many times but it just doesn’t hold true.
Like any other business, to be successful, you have to understand your competition. You have to know what they’re doing and why you’re different. I love submissions that say, “Readers who liked [books A, B and C] will probably like mine because [whatever reason that it’s similar]. However, my book differs from those in that [your unique slant on things].” I immediately know where to put that book on the shelf, how to sell it, and who the audience is. It makes my job lots easier.
As for the concern that she’ll be influenced by someone else’s style. . . not if she reads widely enough. I could see someone putting their reading on hold for a few months while they’re actively writing, maybe, but in general, I think this is a mistake.
What about you writers out there? What do you think?