Speaking of books: when writing yours, you may be tempted to break the rules. While the rules are neither inscribed in an all-encompassing cosmic book nor universally accepted across the board, there are certain conventions, dos/don'ts, and guidelines that I think most writers have heard somewhere along the line (e.g. show, don't tell; maintain a stable point of view; don't write in the second person; clearly plot the rising action, climax, and dénouement; and so on).
Now, plenty of authors have broken one or all of the above rules, as well as many more that were hammered into you in seventh grade English class that I've failed to list. The reason the likes of James Joyce, Toni Morrison, and E.E. Cummings got away with breaking these rules is a simple one: they learned to follow—and mastered—the rules long beforehand.
It may be tempting for you to write a stream-of-consciousness second-person novel in dialect as your very first oeuvre, but I respectfully suggest you start with the basics. If you attempt calculus before you've figured out algebra, you're going to fail the final exam that is representation. Learn to walk before you learn to run, or you'll trip and smash your face on the cold, hard curb of the query process. (Are these proverbs and analogies working for you yet?)
Most good writers who have gone on to produce truly inventive and unique work generally started out with your basic short story or novel; most good poets who have done the same learned to master rhyme and meter before they began to work outside it. You, too, gentle readers and writers, should do the same until you've not only mastered the rules as written, but understand why those rules exist in the first place. If you break a rule without knowing why, you're bound to break it the wrong way.
Tomorrow: return of the round-up!