Do Authors Read Their Own Books?

It’s pretty common for readers to read and re-read books by their favorite authors. But what is it like for the authors themselves? Do they also read and enjoy their own work? 

Some authors do read their own books. They do so to evaluate past work, revisit old stories, and even compare old and new writing styles. However, some authors do not read their own books at all. It usually depends on the personality and perspective of the author.

Want to understand your favorite author’s point of view? Let’s look at the reasons why authors do or don’t read their own work.

Why Authors Read Their Own Books

Some authors have no qualms about reading their own work, though it’s typical for them to do so when a considerable time has passed after publication. It can be both for enjoyment as well as a means to critique their own writing. 

Let’s look at some of the reasons why authors read their own work.

To Examine Past Writing Styles and Write Better Books

Writers, like any artist, evolve in the way they approach their craft. Their writing style changes as they grow older and gain more life experience. So reading past works allows them to examine and critique their writing–spot weaknesses where there are any and even determine what made those books good.

Some writers follow no specific technique. They write as they please, depending on how the words come to them, so to speak. In their case, it’s much harder to tell what made the telling of a story so effective, unless they themselves go back to their work after some time and approach it with a fresh set of eyes.

What may have eluded them in the past could then become obvious. They may even be surprised by their own work.

Additionally, one of the best ways to improve your writing is to recognize the flaws and weaknesses in your previous work. Time and new perspectives help them see where their work was lacking and what can be done to fix it.

And by comparing past work with new ones, authors are able to avoid mistakes that they are prone to making, making new books stronger, better at conveying the intended message, and more appealing to the intended reader.

They Are Their Own Favorite Author

This may not sound like the most humble thing to say about authors, but it’s often true. And why not? Writing and publishing your own book takes guts and pride in your work. If you’re a writer and you don’t like or are not impressed by your own writing, would you really think it worthwhile to publish it?

Also, not all writers become the bestselling authors that they all wish to become, no matter how good their books are. There’s just too much competition nowadays. Each one is definitely a voice among millions, and once in a while, a few get the microphone. So it doesn’t hurt when authors listen to their own voice.

Even successful authors may read their own books too, simply because they genuinely like their work and they want to enjoy it. After all, when you create something, your first audience is yourself. And that’s already such a big feat–looking at what you just made and approving that it’s good. 

To Revisit Stories and Characters

Some authors also read their own books to revisit old stories and characters, especially after some time has passed. This is a great way to get inspiration for new work, find nuggets of new insights, and even gain ideas for any current writing work.

However, it’s not always to gain something useful for future or present work. Like their readers, authors also have their favorite characters and favorite stories. And just like we enjoy re-reading our favorite novels, authors may do so too. After a while, even their own stories can feel new to them. 

For Scheduled Readings and Audiobooks

Perhaps one of the most common – and exciting – reasons that authors read their own books is a scheduled book reading. Whether they are drumming up publicity, marketing their book on tour, or just speaking at a college, school, or other group, many authors read their books aloud for the enjoyment of others.

Additionally, some authors read their own books when recording the audiobook versions. While many authors hire voice actors to do this, some, like Neil Gaiman, prefer to read their books themselves.

Why Authors Don’t Read Their Own Books

Some authors, on the other hand, are averse to reading their own books. Some even go so far as to separate themselves from their work and completely avoid reading it once it’s published. Different authors approach their craft differently.

It Feels Like Vanity

Arguably the biggest reason why some authors just don’t read their own books is it feels like such a vain thing to do. And it’s not surprising, given that most writers prefer the praise of other people to their own. And in any case, the latter is indeed more preferable.

There Are No Surprises

We read books for the thrill of discovering what happens next. For authors, however, there is no more excitement about their own books. They created the story, planned the plot, and wrote chapter after chapter. They probably even knew how their readers would react to their gimmicks.

And so the fun is spoiled for them–at least with their own books, especially very recent ones–because they designed the whole thing. And they’re no longer in a position to delight in a surprise or a clever turn of phrase. 

However, give them some time, and that could change. 

Some Writers Aren’t Impressed With Their Own Work

Do you know that many writers are actually insecure about their writing? And it’s precisely because they are aware of their own limitations and flaws as writers that they are often too hard on themselves.

Consequently, some authors are unable to read their own work and simply enjoy it–without being critics of themselves. 

They’ve Read It Too Many Times Pre-Publication

Before a book gets published, it gets read, revised, re-read, and revised too many times. And all that re-reading of one book can make it uninteresting for some authors to read their work once it’s published. 

But then, perhaps given some time, they might want to pick up the book and give it a go again.

Final Thoughts

All good writers read. But when it comes to reading their own work, authors are pretty divided. While some relish in the triumphs of their past work, others just can’t find it in themselves to read anything they’ve written.

Whether they do or don’t read their own books, however, is a matter of personal preference and in no way affects their ability to produce a masterpiece.

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