Hey y'all. So I finally found the one book I really, really wanted: 77 Reasons Why Your Book Was Rejected. This is a fabulous book that explains the ins and outs of the writing industry. True, it's somewhat negative because it focuses a lot on the statistical unlikelyhood of your story getting published, but somehow its realism and up-front honesty makes me feel hopeful about being published. It clearly defines things that could be obscure or doubtful to a new person trying to get published.
It occured to me then that there are three types of writing books. Books that help you write, edit, or market. While all these things are clearly interrelated, the differences between the three become necessary when you want to find a book to help you specifically. There are so many books out there for a writer that it becomes harder to choose which ones you want. So you have to pick one that helps you out the most.
77 Reasons is clearly a book on marketing because it talks about how to pitch your story (or nonfiction piece, for that matter) and how to promote yourself so that it sells well. There are also other books out there on publishing and getting your work out there, and this is the category of people who feel they are ready and have the other two aspects down.
However, it's always good to go back to the basics and get a book on writing or editing. Writers tend not to like repeating the basics, especially when they've learned a lot about writing simply from writing itself. However, they still don't know proper formatting, or necessarily how to keep motivated. That's where the other two come in. Though, notedly, how I define "writing" and "editing" in this blog is a little more specific than the usual definition, because there are two different needs that two kinds of writers want when they buy a writing book.
Editing is the category for people who are confident in their plot, but not so much their grammar, spelling, and how their plot is arranged. This is the hardest part for a writer, because it's the nitpickiest and a lot of the time our inspiration runs out of steam once we get the idea down -- we don't want to rehash it over again unless we've learned discipline.
However, there is a third type of book that is not like the other two. It's more intuitive and sometimes the authors of them are just weird. But this category is the one that helps writers develop the writing process itself -- forcing oneself to settle down in front of the computer to write, drawing out inspiration, and building discipline. This is different from editing in that it is step one; you can't edit if you don't have anything written down in the first place.
The reason this last one has the weirdest authors is that inspiration itself is weird and ill-defined, and at our core everyone is a strange person. All those normal behaviors are something that people have learned to use to communicate with others. On the inside, everyone has awkward feelings and ideas that they want to get out, and the writing process books help them learn to use these feelings to communicate universal ideals through the use of story.
So chronologically, writing process books are first, editing is second, and marketing is third. While some books might hit all three, most generally focus on only one of these, because each writer needs help with a different aspect, or is simply interested in one aspect at a certain point in time.