Can You Stay True to Your Story If You’re Reading Others’ Stories?


Dear Time-Crunched…

She’s right. Read current middle grade novels. Two reasons: As a businessperson you must know what’s happening in your marketplace. Not so you can chase trends—most of us can’t get books written, bought, revised, and produced that quickly—but so you can position your book as akin to this or that but different in these key, marketable ways when it’s time to submit. That’s what agents, editors, and store buyers do with every book they buy or rep. You’re submitting, so I know this isn’t just your passion, it’s your business. Know your business. On the craft side, reading other MG will deepen your sense of middle grade voice and sensibility, and your writer’s toolbox will expand, improving your versatility as a storyteller. Please don’t be afraid of sabotaging your stories. Writing doesn’t work like that. You’ll mix and match new tools and strategies in ways only you can, flavored by your unique perspectives, interests, and experiences. As for the time crunch, one word: audiobooks.

Happy writing!
The Editor


  1. A great question and one I know I’ve wondered and been concerned about. Like the original poster, I haven’t known if reading lots of Young Adult novels (in my case) will one day cause me to subconsciously copy something I’ve read elsewhere. At the same time, I can see the merit in being able to see what published YA writers have in common and what they’ve done successfully. When the time comes, I think I will be buying some YA titles in my genre to get a feel for what they’re like.

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