Books Magazine

More Rules I Could Do Without

By Lexi Revellian @LexiRevellian
More rules I could do withoutWhy are some writers so fond of rules? Why are some indie writers so fond of rules? Isn't one of the main benefits of self-pubbing that you don't have to toe the line any more?

Back in 2009/10 when I was submitting Remix to agents, there were more rules than you could shake a stick at, and writers would anxiously obsess over them on forums. Double spacing yes, but should we really use ugly Courier or was Times New Roman acceptable? Agents, we knew, were captious and huffy creatures.  There were lots of crimes that would result in an agent tossing your three chapters unread into the bin. These included omitting to enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope (I forgot once, and sure enough, didn't get the form rejection I was looking forward to adding to my collection). You had to study the agent's precise requirements and observe them to the letter, or she wouldn't even curl her pretty lip over your typescript.

We all did what we were told. To be fair, until Amazon changed everything we had no choice. (I may say it's still going on - read Carol Blake's handy list of 29 Ways NOT To Submit To An Agent. Reading that made me realize just how much I love not being a part of that scene any more.)

What irks me now is indies coming up with their own rules. Our book, we are told, will not be ready to publish until we have hired a professional editor, proofreader, formatter and cover designer. Not may not, but will notFleur Philips goes further: “One thing I feel indie or self pub authors MUST do for publicity and marketing is to hire a really good publicity firm to handle marketing and public relations ... if you can’t afford it, find a way to make it happen!” (Plih. Bog off, Fleur.) Others tell us we must write several books a year to succeed, and divide our time between marketing and writing.

To which I say, we are big grown-up indies. I can decide for myself whether or not I need to pay a proofreader (not, actually) and do all that other stuff. I do not need the new orthodoxy telling me what to do, and neither do you.

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