Read what you write

I have read over 350 picture books so far this year. I think it’s one of the most important exercises I can undertake as a picture book writer for so many reasons but here are a few of my favorite:

  • I keep track of every book I read which means I have a database – organized by my brain – of over 350 books. If I need a mentor text or comp title for myself or a critique partner, I search through the themes and genres I’ve listed for each book. It means I’ve gotten a feel for what themes and genres different publishers and imprints are interested in. And I have learned that the market seems to have a home for almost every type of book!
  • Soaking up all the different voices, characters, unique story-telling approaches and perspectives makes me a better writer but also a better human. Plus, I usually read the books with my kids and that makes everything better.
  • I practice writing pitches for every book I read and this has come in very useful!
  • I highlight my favorite books and when I’m in a slump, I go back to those books and read them again. And again.
  • I don’t like all of the books I read WHICH IS REALLY IMPORTANT. Because it doesn’t matter that if I don’t like a book – enough people liked the story that it was published. Which helps me appreciate how subjective this field is. My dislike to a book is not a dislike of the author – it’s not personal. Rejection will always sting but this knowledge helps take some of the deep, personal hurt out of it.

There are so many other reasons that reading what you write can be beneficial. What are your favorite reasons?

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