Some say that when a fiction writer is creating he should not read anyone else’s fiction because it might color his own work. But like most of my fellow Acme Authors I’m always writing, so I don’t necessarily take that advice. Even if I did, I would never completely stop reading. There is a real world we writers live in, and every author should be aware of it.
I belong to a lot of support organizations, but I’m not much on attending meetings. However, the newsletters these groups publish help me keep track of what’s happening in the writing community. Local news comes through the newsletters of the Virginia Writer’s Club (The Virginia Writer), Maryland Writers Association (Pen in Hand) and American Independent Writers. Those last 2 are kind enough to send electronic copies.
I also joined genre-based groups, as I think all writers should. Larger groups like the Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime offer national newsletters (The 3rd Degree and In SinC respectively) plus the ones the local chapter puts out (for Mystery Writers that would be Capitol Crimes.) International Thriller Writers Incorporated does it all electronically too in The Big Thrill.
If you self publish you should join the Small Publishers Association of North America (SPAN) and the The Independent Book Publishers Association (formerly the Publishers Marketing Association) to read their marketing-oriented newsletters.
And then there are the publications that can help us improve our craft. Writer’s Digest is probably best known, but I get more out of The Writer, although I’ll admit that is very subjective.
I also like to keep an eye on the magazines the fans are reading, and that’s genre-based too. For me those would include Pages, Crimespree, Mystery Scene and the tightly-focused Black Issues Book Review. Aside from keeping my finger on the pulse, I enjoy them. After all, I'm a fan too. (Check Crimespree and Mystery Scene for ads promoting my new novel, Russian Roulette!)
You'll notice that Publishers Weekly and Editor & Publisher are conspicuous by their absence from my reading. They are the absolute sources for news on the industry, book publishing and book selling, and they’re probably the first two pubs others would mention, but to be honest I have never learned anything of value from either one. I certainly expect my agent and my publisher to read them, but they don’t help me write or market any better. Still, check them out and decide for yourself.
And that last bit of advice applies to everything else I said. You owe it to yourself to check out these publications for knowledge, awareness and inspiration.
Keep writing, but also keep reading!