Do Books For Writers Help You?

When you plan on publishing a book, and you are at the beginning of the process, there is always a lot of information that you will have to deal with.  Some of this information can be found in books, and most writers will have a book or two that they will use to help them with finding information or improving their writing.

This is a more personal question but do books for writers help you?

My own answer is yes, but to an extent.  I bought all the “usual” books on editing, such as Elements of Style, and grammar books, but no matter what I did, I couldn’t see my own mistakes.  At least not for months after the fact.  It wasn’t until my editor and blogging partner Jane explained things to me that these books helped me, and allowed me to be a better writer.

I think if the book is good and you can learn to put the suggestions into practice then these books are good for you.  Some books which other writers might highly recommend might not be good for you right now, but might be one which will be of use for you later.

Take for example Aiming at Amazon:  Although it suggests not to to write reviews or anything like that, such as listmania, but I think that at this stage even getting my name out is a good thing.  This is a book that will help my own published books see success long term.

However it also makes some assumptions– that you know what you are doing in terms of publishing a book.  Rather- that you do it all on your own.  Again it is an excellent book but for someone who wants to write and have someone else publish it for them, it will not be as useful.  it is mainly for people who want to self-publish.

The same holds true for most books, they are all useful in their own way.  People read what they need to know about now, and then they use it to fix what is wrong with their writing now.  Some books, for me that was Elements of Style, take a long time before their true value comes into play, it can be only after you’ve made changes to your own writing style.

This means that when someone asks a question like do books for writers help you?  The answer is it depends.


  • Michael

    After having a letter to the editor published, I was thrilled to have my name in print.

    I thought seriously about becoming a Freelance writer so I began to do the research and voraciously read everything about writing.

    What happened was I became confused. Some books offered great advice while others offered contradictory advice. This almost killed my creativity. I suffered from what I like to call "Information constipation."

    So I think reading books on writing can be useful if you learn something which can be applied immediately to your writing. Then I'd suggest to just toss it aside.

    Just my 2 cents worth…

  • Rebecca E.

    Michael– that is an excellent way of looking at things as well. I think I am of the sort who is a pack-rat! In fact, come to think of it your idea is very good– and I really should do that!

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