A man, Tom, has a son, Ben. Ben grows up and has a daughter, Sue. Does Ben cease to be Tom’s son, now that Ben has Sue? No. Ben is now both a son and a father, and being a father will likely expand, not diminish, Ben’s perspective as a son.
That’s just an example.
I’ve heard folks in the book world speak of readers and authors as if they’re completely different, separate, or opposing entities. It’s as if once a reader writes and publishes a book, that reader is no longer a “real” reader or one whose voice as a reader should count as much among the reading populace (unless, perhaps, it’s the voice of a famous, bestselling author endorsing another author’s work.)
For instance, if Midlist or Independent Author Jill says she read and loved someone else’s book, it’s just because Author Jill wants fellow authors to say, in return, that they love Author Jill’s book. So, Author Jill’s word isn’t quite legit. Or, if she says she read but didn’t enjoy someone else’s book, Author Jill is trying to beat down the competition to make her own book look superior. Hence, again, Author Jill’s word lacks legitimacy.
So assumptions go, at times.
Now, I won’t say that I’ve never heard of authors who neglect reading once they start writing. Unfortunately, it happens in some cases. “Whew. I’ve been working and writing so much, I hardly have time to read anymore.” And, I won’t say that there aren’t authors who praise others’ books chiefly to receive praise for their own books in return, or who criticize others’ books due to pride or out of fear of the “competition.” I’ll bet those things happen as well.
But, that doesn’t mean it’s happening with all authors everywhere.
I didn’t stop being a bibliophile when I started writing books. Just like a person can be someone’s child and another’s parent at the same time, I’m now a reader and an author, and being an author has expanded, not diminished, my perspective as a reader.
I can’t get away from what I am. Just as readers all over are my fellow readers, authors all over are my fellow authors, whether I personally know them or not. Whenever I read or share my thoughts on a book I didn’t write, I, consequently, am reading and sharing about a fellow author’s work, doing so with the heart of an author from the perspective of a reader.
I’m not one or the other. I’m both, and glad to be so.
Therefore, I would encourage my fellow readers not to assume someone is no longer a real reader with a genuine reader’s voice because that someone has now written a book. I’m as much of a book lover as I ever was, if not more so, with honest reader’s views, as I’m sure is the case for an untold number of other book-loving authors.