Sunday, November 14, 2010


I remember prattling on about this annual scrum last year. Not sure if I offered the same advice I'm about to share, but here goes:

What writers really need is a NaNoREADMo.

How many of the would-be novelists toiling away out there are going to also read a book in the month of November? Probably only a few, since they're spending every available moment desperately trying to shovel words into their laptops. But what about next month?

We need a month, a long month with not much else going on, in which writers vow to spend as many hours reading as they did in their NaNoWriMo efforts.

How about March? Half the country is defrosting, football season is over, and Easter candy is available in fifty-gallon drums. All the conditions you need for reading pleasure.

Buy a stack of books. Or go to the library. Read. Fill your head with some new words. With luck they'll still be there waiting when November rolls around.

March, 2011. NaNoReadMo FTW.


Margot Harrison said...

I think a designated reading month is a great idea, and here's why. I edit a regional alt weekly and write book reviews (yes, we still review books! but only by local authors).

Anyway, when people finish their NaNo novel or their heartfelt memoir of growing up in sugar-shack country and find themselves self-publishing it, they send it to me. I have a full box of self-published books I've received just this year. I look at all of them, and I read pieces of some of them. One tiny state can produce a lot of words, let me tell you.

I despair of what to do with the self-published books, but recently I had an idea. Why not recruit some of the writers and ask them to read and review each other in brief? If they want people to read them, shouldn't they be willing to read others?

Not sure I'd have the guts to really do this, especially since these people might not be the most skilled critics. Some might, who knows?

All this, no doubt, because I don't like telling strangers: "If I really liked the looks of your book, I'd review it even if you handed it to me in longhand." That's true. But it's also true that I review books I don't like simply because the authors are well known and published by a traditional house.

But, yes, we should all read more. Every month.

Er, I should introduce myself. I just happened to find the opening of your novel on an old Absolute Write thread, which led me here. I'm sending out queries on a near-future sort-of-thriller about cosmetic surgery, and I haven't seen many similar books unless Scott Westerfeld's YA ones count. I tried to sell mine to agents as YA, but sadly, it seems to be irredeemably adult.

I'm curious to know if such books are hard sells despite the tabloids' leering interest in celebrity plastic surgery. I've speculated that SF (even near-future) is mainly bought by men while anything about cosmetic surgery is bought by women (and perhaps not the same women who buy novels). I hope I'm wrong.

Anyhow, I'm glad to know about your book, and I'll pick it up (or order it). Great blog, too!

Lorelei Armstrong said...


Boy, I want to think a book on almost any subject can succeed, and I always want to think the most important thing is the writing. Mine didn't sell well, although I know my mother bought as many as she could. I know a lot of factors play into the success of a book. Timing (don't release on the first day of a financial collapse), the agent (I didn't have one), the publisher (mine went bankrupt two months after the release). But all those things are excuses, too. The one thing I'm still uncertain about was the decision (unilateral by the publisher) to release the book as a futurist mystery. I had written and sold it as science fiction. If you think there's little or no audience for futurist mystery, you're right. I don't think it helped.

I like the read-and-critique idea, and it's already in place on some websites. I know it's common in screenwriting, and there's a large novel site as well. There are rumors it descends into favoritism— no surprise there. If I can shake the name out of my tired brain I shall post it!

Margot Harrison said...

I would love it if more people used read-and-critique sites! I sometimes wonder if I'm the only person (besides their family and friends) who's seeing their self-published novel, and I shouldn't be. I don't have time to do it justice.

It's a pity no one reads futurist mysteries. But then, I don't read mysteries unless I have to, period. The thing is, there's tons of futurist fiction that isn't sold as SF -- Cronin's The Passage, to take the obvious example. It is SF, technically, but you'll find it in general fiction. And in YA, there's no distinction at all on the shelves.

Which tells me it's all about how you can market something, and to whom. Westerfeld and Robin Wasserman, who both write about futuristic plastic surgery and the various creepy issues it raises, seem to sell OK to teens (Westerfeld actually sells really well). So I wonder why there's no adult equivalent.

Ah, well. My next novel will be squarely in the YA category, where you can get away with genre blending!