Are There Rules for Writing Books? Part I – March 8, 2020

This is going to be one of several posts addressing different aspects of rules for writing. I chose to keep them short as it would easily balloon into a very long post if I lumped them together. In many social media groups, I hear the mantra “There are no rules for writing books” repeatedly. There are indeed rules for writing. That’s true if you try to get picked up by a traditional publisher, an independent publisher, or go the self-published route. With Vanity Press publishers as long as you pay them money, they will let you ignore whatever rules you want. You will pay for the privilege of doing so, both to the Vanity Press publisher and by not gaining many readers who expect you to follow the rules.
One of the best examples of a rule for writing is word count minimums/maximums. If you plan on trying to find an agent to push your book, you need to learn what the minimum/maximum word count is for your genre or sub-genre. If your book does not fall in that range, don’t be surprised when you are not picked up by an agent or traditional publisher. This extends to independent publishers and self-published too.
A friend who has self-published about 10 books was following the word count for many of his earlier works, but the least few books he has ignored the word count. I tried pointing out how that’s a bad idea and he pulled up a bunch of authors who ignored this rule as “proof” he was right and I was wrong. That’s not proof as he was using popular authors who has been writing books for a lot longer than him and who have a much larger fan base. He has sold in the neighborhood of 15,000 books with a couple selling 4,000 books, but the longer books have not done as well as the books that fell within the minimum/maximum word count range. He makes another mistake of not fixing the numerous typos and grammar errors in his earlier works.
Readers tend to have a minimum/maximum word count depending on the genre. It’s similar to what the traditional and independent publishers use as a guide.
Here are a couple of guides. The below guides and others I checked out tend to throw out similar word count numbers.
If you want to know what rules apply to the genre you plan on writing, you should pick up some of the best selling authors in your genre. I wouldn’t necessarily go with the big names in your genre as they can frequently get away with breaking some rules that you as a newbie won’t be allowed to break. I posted a good link here: https://upsdownsfamilyhistory.wordpress.com/2019/05/25/choosing-a-genre-anatomy-of-a-best-selling-story-part-7-kristen-lamb/. Original link: https://authorkristenlamb.com/2015/05/choosing-a-genre-anatomy-of-a-best-selling-story-part-7/.

About ICT Genealogist

Originally from Gulfport, Mississippi. Live in Wichita, Kansas now. I suffer Bipolar I, ultra-ultra rapid cycling, mixed episodes. Blog on a variety of topics - genealogy, DNA, mental health, among others. Let's collaborateDealspotr.com
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1 Response to Are There Rules for Writing Books? Part I – March 8, 2020

  1. Pingback: Are There Rules for Writing Books? Part II – March 9, 2020 | Ups and Downs of Family History V2.0

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