At every single writing conference I've attended, I've been given the same advice.
'Read everything you can in your genre.'
Yet, listening to complaints from an agent, her number one gripe was being sent children's fiction from someone who had obviously not read anything published in the last thirty years.
I have tried to give the same advice to people coming to my writing group. They quite rightly point out that Beatrice Potter and Enid Blyton are still on the bookshelves. And are selling well. Yes. True.
But they aren't trying to get published now. If someone wants to read an Enid Blyton style book, they will read her books. She wrote 186 novels, 223 character books, 267 education books, 179 reaction books, 153 continuation books and 884 short story series. The publishing industry don't need more 'Famous Five' stories.
I would recommend reading what has been published in the last five years. Due to the recession, fewer books were published, which means we writers gained an even clearer idea of what the industry was looking for.
In my experience poets and children writers are the worse culprits for not reading their genre. We children writers have a blast. Especially since the work that does make the book shops tend to be outstanding!
Here is my heavy reading load for today.
'If you're listening to the radio in your car and a song or station comes on that you don't like, you reach over and flip the channel. You don't make yourself sit there and listen, analyzing why, letting it seep in to your life. It's the same thing with your thoughts. Flip the channel and find a good station to listen to!'