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AskTheEditor1

You Need to Be a Reader First

Welcome to our first segment of Ask the Editor. Shooting live video is about the last thing on Earth that a painfully shy person like me wants to do, so that should tell you how much I care about this stuff. Now, let’s hope I survive it.

When people find out I’m an editor, they often tell me that they have a great idea for a book they should write (often it’s their own life story). “It’s a surefire bestseller,” they tell me.” It happens all the time. And almost as often, the very next thing that comes out of their mouth is: “But I don’t like to read.”

Okay—that, right there? Is what we call a red flag. A big one.

See, we ALL have stories, but that doesn’t mean that all of us need to write
those stories down. Having a story doesn’t make you a writer; it just makes you human. It’s writing and reading—dare I say, especially reading?—that makes you a writer.

If I can offer just one piece of advice to all you aspiring writers out there, it’s this:

If you don’t read—constantly, obsessively, as if you need to consume books as much as you need to breathe air—please do us all a favor: Don’t try to write.

If you don’t believe me (and I get that I’m nobody special, so why should you?), then maybe you’ll believe Stephen King. He said:

“If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

So that’s my advice. If you fancy yourself a writer, you have to be a reader first.

That’s all for today. I’ll be back in a few days, so send along any questions you have and I’ll do my best to give you an honest (maybe even brutally honest) answer. See you soon!

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