Wednesday 28 March 2012

Guest Post | Amanda of Strange Chemistry on Becoming A New Type of Reader

Who am I kidding? Amanda Rutter needs no introduction! But I'm going to introduce her anyway. :)
Hell, it's the least I can do, given the magnificent guest post she's written for The Speculative Scotsman. Most of you, of course, will remember Amanda from Floor to Ceiling Books, and though it was a sad, sad day when she closed the door on her old blog, she began again immediately over at the Strange Chemistry site.

Some of you might be wondering why she blogs for "a global imprint dedicated to the best in modern Young Adult science fiction, fantasy, supernatural and everything in between" these days. Well there's a very good reason: it's her imprint!
I'll have more to say about Strange Chemistry later in 2012, when the imprint makes its debut in bookstores around the world -- and not before time, too. I'm certainly excited about some of the talent she's signed up. You guys should be too.

Anyway, given (I gather) how very much her habits have had to change of late, Amanda thought the thing to do for the guest post below was to talk a bit about the way we read. I'm sure you'll agree it makes for fascinating reading in its own right.
First off the bat, I want to say thank you to Niall for inviting me to contribute to his fancy blog while he’s away in the wilds of America!
*takes a good look around*
“Oooh, what does this button do…?”
*scuttles away as blog disintegrates*

Because I’m now in a very different role than I was six months ago (from blogger and occasional accountant to editor and occasional blogger!) I was asked if I could write a post talking about the transition, or the ins and outs of the publishing world as I see them. But I decided not to do this! (I’m a rebel like that! [We wouldn't have you any other way, Amanda! - Niall]) Instead I’m going to talk about Types of Reader.

1. The One Book a Year Reader

This reader does not generally read. Through choice they will do any other activity. Reading is a bit of a bind. But they usually manage to slog through one book a year (most often while sitting on a beach!) The book they pick is usually the most popular published that year – they’ve heard people rave about it and thought they’d give it a go. Also known as Da Vinci Code Readers. 

2. The ‘I Read One Author’ Reader

A little different from the One Book a Year Reader! This type does actually enjoy reading – it’s just that they tried one particular author and never really moved on to anything else. Why should they, when they get all they need from that author? They will re-read the books this author has written time and time and time again and, despite being told ‘if you like them, you’ll like this’ they can’t bear the idea of moving out of their comfort zone. Usually a fan of Catherine Cookson or John Grisham!

3. The Casual Reader

They have their favourite authors. They buy a book now and again. They are perfectly happy reading, but equally happy watching TV or working on some crafty project. Right slap bang in the middle of the spectrum. Slightly incomprehensible to both ends of the spectrum – I mean, if you’re going to read anyway, why not do it *more*, say the Fervent Readers, while the One Book a Year Reader wonders why they are wasting their time on picking up more than just that one book.

4. The Fervent Reader

This person loves to read! They adore it. There is nothing more fun than sitting curled up on a sofa all afternoon reading. The library is their favourite haunt. They are unable to tell you their favourite author or book – there are just too many to pick from!

5. The Blogging Reader

Okay, so this is a step above the fervent reader. The blogging reader is prepared to read just about anything. They know the publishing schedule better than most publishers do. They read critically and are prepared to argue their points – and in a very passionate manner! They still have favourite authors, but sometimes the most recent book from that author will lie unread for months while they work through the other review copies they need to tackle. [This. This exactly - Niall] They don’t have TBR piles – they have TBR mountains! A blogging reader is forced to log their books on a spreadsheet or Goodreads just to know what they own and what they want to own.

So where do you think you fit in on the spectrum?

I do have a reason for talking about this, even though I’ve approached it in a flippant manner. One of the odd aspects of stepping into publishing that I have faced is becoming a new type of reader. When a manuscript comes in, I have to read it with thoughts as to whether it would be popular to a wide audience; I have to consider the marketing angles; I have to decide about what level of editing the manuscript requires. I no longer simply read a book – I have to work out what exactly is making it stand out for me, so that I can communicate that effectively to the rest of the team around me.
Conversely, my reading outside of work has become entirely casual – reading for pure escapism, without having to swap scenes around mentally, or suggest whether a new character might be appropriate to carry the story forward. I find myself re-reading novels that were favourites years back, because of the comfort in knowing that I will enjoy without any sort of analysis. I read puff fiction and pulp fiction; books that demand little from me in return for the entertainment that they provide. And I am returning to my favourite authors – those authors who slipped a little by the wayside while I was a blogging reader and I can now catch up with all their output without any pressure.

But you know what hasn’t changed? And what doesn’t change, no matter what type of reader you are? That sense of potential as you open a new book or a new manuscript. That sense of stepping somewhere new, that journey of discovery. The best part of being an editor and commissioning books is knowing that I can make those discoveries and then share them with as many people as feasibly possible. Rewarding doesn’t even come close!
Thank you ever so much for that, Amanda. You're an absolute star.

But I'd add a sixth type of reader to your tally: in fact, let's call it The Larry. :P

Remember, you can find Amanda over at Strange Chemistry these days, and if you're looking to cast your mind back into the past - when the grass was greener and the chocolate creamier - why not take a long look through the archives of her fantastic former blog?
Now then. The lovely lady asked you a question! What type of reader are you?


  1. The Larry, ha! Or maybe the Squirrel Reader. Strangely, I think I've been all five types of reader at some point in my life.

  2. I'm a nightly bedtime - ebook reader falls on the pillow as I nod off reader.

  3. I'd say I'm Fervent with Blogger tendencies. I read like crazy, to the point if I don't have a designated book I'm reading, I don't feel right. Like a Blogging Reader, I read critically, and have discussions with my reader friends about them. However, I rarely blog about what I've read.

  4. I've morphed from #3 to #4 to #5.
    I used to find one author, read everything by them, then move on to another author. So, one year it was all Anne Rice, then all James Patterson, then all Star Wars, then all John Sandford, then all Bernard Cornwell.
    I started my blog because I didn't have anyone to talk to about the stuff I was reading.
    Now, it's... all I can read! I usually have at least two books on the go - one fiction, one non-fiction. And I'm ALWAYS on the look-out for more books, graphic novels and authors to read. I would love it if that could be my profession...

  5. I am definitely a fervent reader, and just to be difficult I'd like to add a sub-category for fervent readers who are also authors. As a result of my writing career my fervent reading has become part of my work, and has changed it from a purely escapist and joyous thing to an analytical exercise. Whilst I miss the days when I could read most things quite happily (now I am very, very critical and picky about what I read) I do like the fact that reading is an important part of my job.

  6. I'm something like a 4.5. I would definitely have a TBR mountain if only my wallet could afford it. Guess I'm a wannabe 5.

  7. I'm somewhere between "Fervent" and "Blogging." I write reviews, but I'm pretty picky these days, so I won't read just about anything. It has to be "up my alley," as they say.

  8. I went from a #4 to a #5... Though there have been times when I went to a #3, but that was mostly during university when I needed to read so much for classes that I almost exclusively (re)read my favourite authors forpleasure.

  9. I guess I'm somewhere between casual and fervent. Fervent, to me, would seem to be at least a book a week, while the casual, "now and then" reader would seem to read maybe 5 or 10 books in a year. I've gone from about 30 books a year average to, in my best years, about 40. Now, I'm down to about 15 to 20. That still seems more than "now and then" though. So I think there's another category between casual and fervent. A category called "steady," maybe.


  10. I'm transitioning from a fervent reader to a blogging reader at the moment. I wouldn't say I have a TBR mountain just yet but I do find that I want to read more and more books. The funny thing is though now I have a blog to write I have less time for reading.

  11. Some of you might be thinking why she weblogs for "a international mark devoted to the best in contemporary Youthful Mature sci-fi, dream, unnatural and everything in between" nowadays.