DEAR WRITER: BE A READER - Guest Post by Caitlin Lambert

I am SO excited to share with you today a guest post from YA author Caitlin Lambert! 
I 'met' Caitlin on Facebook last year, and soon afterwards I visited her website. After reading through her amazing writing and publishing tips, I invited her over to A Magical World Of Words to share her thoughts and expertise on a writing topic of her choice. Seeing what my blog's all about, Caitlin chose something that applies to both readers and writers :)   

Thank you, Caitlin, for coming over! We are so excited to have you. 

Writers and readers, this is for you......

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

Thanks so much for having me, Amy! I’m excited to hop on over today and bring two worlds together – writing and reading. Both Amy and I are writers, and usually I post about the technical part of books – actually writing them, how it’s done, and tips I’ve learned over the years. However, reading is also a huge part of what shapes me as an author. Since reviews are the main purpose of Amy’s beautiful blog, and since writers sometimes need to flip our perspective to the receiving end, I won’t be talking about just writing today. I’ll be talking about you, the readers, and how your ideas and feelings impact our work. For all the writers out there, I’ll be talking about what it’s like to sit on the other side of the table, and why reading is so important to a writer’s success. Let’s get started… 

I have said this before and I’ll say it probably a thousand times again in the future: when you are writing, don’t become so enamored with everyone else’s perspective that you lose sight of your own. Helpful criticism is important. Critique partners, writing groups, and reader feedback are great, and I highly recommend them. However, it is sometimes easy to change your manuscript again and again with each changing opinion, and if you lose focus on the story you want to tell, then everything will fall apart. There is a difference between evaluating criticism and making changes that will strengthen your manuscript, and randomly butchering your story to fit every reader’s and critic’s wants.

Because here’s the thing – not every reader will like your book. 

Gasp! I know. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but it’s true. You readers out there know that sometimes you see glowing reviews about a book and everyone seems to love it, but once you read it yourself, you are disappointed. Everybody has different tastes and expectations, and that is a beautiful thing about writing. But it also means you have to make changes you think are good for your story, while staying true to the voice and direction of the book. Of course, writers wouldn’t be able to share their passion if there was no one to share with, so our readers are top priority. How can the two worlds come together, to better understand each other, so that readers get more great books and writers get more fabulous readers? Let’s start with why writer = reader. If you write, then you must read. A lot. In your genre especially, but also outside of it. This sounds like such an easy thing, but some writers don’t give it any thought.
Why is reading such an important part of being a writer? 

1. It gives you the tools: Like in Stephen King’s quote at the beginning of this post, you don’t have the tools needed in order to write if you do not read. I once read an article that compared a writer’s brain to a well, and reading was the water. Without reading, the well goes dry, and you have nothing to pull from. But a writer who reads fills up their stores. Now this of course doesn’t refer to plagiarism. You don’t want to copy other authors, in voice or plot. But there is much to be learned from other writers, which is why having a large community is so wonderful! Reading beautiful language and for once sitting back and being entertained yourself instead of doing the entertaining is such a breath of fresh air for a writer. We love our craft, but reading a fully plotted out story that we know already has an end is the ultimate form of inspiration. Pay attention to how these authors pace their story. Notice the character arcs, the plot twists… What makes you want to keep reading? Readers, what makes you want to keep reading a great book? Noticing these things will help sharpen your ability as a writer, because you can then incorporate them into your own manuscript.

2. It shows you the market: One of the things that agents look for in a query is a good grasp of the market, which is why they will sometimes ask for comparable books. Knowing what is “in”, what genres are over-saturated, and what is being published write now will all help you get your book out into the world. Now warning: don’t ever write something just because it’s popular. Agent inboxes got flooded with paranormal books after the success of Twilight, and soon it died out. Why? Because there was already a Twilight. The same thing with dystopian novels. No one wants to read the same story in a different book. They want something fresh and unique. Notice how the “big three” – Harry Potter, Twilight, and Hunger Games (and LOTR if you count it) are all incredibly diverse. They brought something new to the market. So don’t just follow a fad. You still need to know what’s going on in the literary world, though, and reading does this. Finally, it will help you “sell” your book, in that you can see what has and has not been done already. What does your book bring to the table that is fresh? The only way to know that is to actually dive into the market and find out what other authors have written, so you’ll know what they haven’t written, and what ultimately gives you an edge.

3. It gives you mind-reading capabilities: Okay, not really. But sort of. Being a reader helps you connect with your audience, because if you know what you want in a great book, you’ll know what your readers want too. Every reader, though each one has different tastes and favorites, are all looking for generally the same thing – a book that will make them laugh, cry, stay up all night huddled under the covers… feel. What in your favorite books makes you feel something? How can you do the same for your readers?

4. It reminds you why: Authors get writer’s block. We burn out. We can get frustrated and discouraged and border on giving up, and sometimes all we need is to read a great book and remember why we do what we do. Why we love it. When you close a book and think about it for days and quote your favorite lines – that is a book worth remembering. And that is the kind of book we all hope to write.

5. It’s fun: We thread letters into words and words into sentences all the time, and while it’s our passion, reading a book without needing to edit and without getting to a point where the manuscript bleeds into a blank computer screen is amazing. The whole thing is complete, with a full plot and rounded characters. And we can just curl up and enjoy it.

Thank you again so much for having me, Amy! 

I’d love to see writers and readers sharing perspective and talking about books, because even though we sit on different sides of the screen sometimes, we all share the same love! 

To all the readers out there –
what are some of your favorite books? What makes you love them? And writers, what do you love about reading? What are your favorite books? 

Share in the comments below!

A little about me: I have been writing for as long as I can remember, but I started working on my first serious novel when I was twelve – a book that will stay forever tucked away, but which taught me so much. I am currently querying my second novel, WHAT LIES ABOVE, and working on my third. When I’m not writing or working, you can find me reading, composing piano, and adding endless destinations to my travel bucket list. And possibly eating dark chocolate

Connect with me! I respond to all comments, no matter where you leave them…


  1. This is a wonderful post! Thank you for sharing this with us Caitlin :) I think reading is definitely an important part of writing! And it's true that not everyone likes a book. Everyone has a different perspective!

    Harry Potter is my favourite series ever! I love it most for the wonderful characters! especially the wonderful female characters who inspire me so much <3 As a writer (Who'll hopefully have her book published one day), the thing I like the most about reading is the fact that I can get transported to a whole other world when i read :)

    Wonderful post Amy and Caitlin <3


    1. Thank you, Uma! Harry Potter is wonderful, I agree. And that is so true - reading does transport you to a whole new world! Glad to meet a fellow writer :) My advice would just be to never give up. It's sounds cliche, but it's true!

      Heading over to check out your blog now! The title already hooked me haha.

      Thanks for stopping by!

    2. Glad you enjoyed what Caitlin had to say, Uma! And I totally agree with what you said about different perspectives, etc; so true :)

      Haha I know how much you love HP! And it really is a brilliant series, although I guess that's obvious ;)
      Good luck with the writing! I really hope you get to publish your book one day. And we writers must definitely stick together :) <3
      Happy writing and reading!

      Thank you Uma :) <3

  2. This is great advice and it's so true! Books written by readers are always better than the ones from someone who woke up one day and thought, "I want to write a book" when they don't even like reading.

    1. Haha, exactly Dena! Thanks so much for reading! :)

    2. It is! And lol, that's so, so true :)
      Glad you enjoyed Caitlin's post, Dena!

  3. Oh my gosh: THIS POST!!!! I loved it! I usually put my writing before reading, and this reminded me that I need to read more, just as a "reader" and not as a "writer." Thank you for this, Caitlin, and nice to meet you!

    Amy, it's so cool that you could have Caitlin here today :)

    audrey caylin

    1. So glad you enjoyed what Caitlin had to say, Audrey! Glad it helped :)

      I was so excited at the idea! And I'm so honoured she agreed :)

  4. Thank you, Audrey! So glad you loved it! It's very easy for us writers to get into writer-mode and never reader-mode, and we forget that being a reader is just as important!

    I went over and checked out your blog... I love it! I am also a Christian writing sci-fi/fantasy novels, and it's so wonderful to meet other writers who share my views. Your books sound amazing... keep writing and never give up! :) I'd love to read them someday!