If I want to get published, I have to write something that will sell. For that reason, I have to do my market research, so I’m now a regular at the local library, checking out books to read.
Most agents, on their web pages, list authors or books they especially like. I collect reading recommendations from the pages of agents, adding them to my reading list. (Some agents ask the submitter identify authors who published work is like mine. I have to admit I don’t know the universe of published authors well enough to give a reasonable answer to the question.)
I’m enjoying a variety of books. Even within one author’s body of work, the variety can be quite interesting.
As I read, I’m looking at the shape of the narrative, how the characters are described, how the subplots connect to the main story arc. Issues of this type address the flavor and complexity of a story. I consider how each chapter is constructed, how the chapters advance the story. The order in which information is presented holds particular interest. I understand flashbacks can be over-used, but I also understand telling the story in chronological order can easily lead to long, boring sections. Often the experience of the narrative is more fun with surprise disclosures. After all, life is how you deal with revelations.
I’m also looking at the writing style. I have a book in mind, I can’t put clearly into a genre yet. The main characters are all in high school, so I imagine the “young adult” label might be applied. However, I don’t intend to constrain the subject matter, nor the vocabulary. I suspect it will be too long to meet publishers’ expectations for YA as well. As a result, I’m interested in the expectations authors bring to their younger readers. I’m seeing, in the YA books I like most, authors who give their reader full credit, don’t dumb down their language and don’t take care to keep the sentences short.
I’m enjoying all that fiction reading, and my market research is going well. I’m reading two or three books a week, which isn’t too bad considering I work full time and write nearly every evening.