Aspiring authors often wonder how to choose a book idea. Do you wonder whether you are “writing the right book”?
How to Choose a Book Idea
How can you tell if you’re writing the right book? What do you look for?
- Your book concept should match your vision: Look at your vision or mission statement for your book. Would this particular book help you bring that vision to fruition?
- Make sure you have the right audience: Are these the people you want to reach, that you feel called to work with?
- Your book should be marketable, if one of your goals is to sell a good deal of books or get traditionally published: If those aren’t your goals, then marketability may not be as much of an issue.
- Your book should feel fresh in some way: Do you share new research? Offer a fresh angle on a topic? Address an under-served market? Have a distinctive voice or unusual stories? Any of these can make a book fresh.
- Does thinking about this book fill you with passion? You want to feel excited about your book.
- Can you see yourself excited about this book a year from now? Two Years? Writing the book will take time. And once it’s published you’ll be promoting it. Ask yourself whether this topic will hold your interest long term.
- How easy is this book to write? You don’t have to write the easiest of your book ideas, but do take it into consideration. Cutting your teeth on the easy book, the one that stems from what you know rather than crazy amounts of research, may just be the way to get it done and prepare yourself to write book number two!
I once worked with a executive who had three different book ideas to choose from. For the sake of simplicity, let’s call them easy, medium and lots-of-work-and-time.
The easy book was the obvious choice—it would easily help grow his business, showcasing his authority in his field. It was a much needed book and he had a lifetime of great information that boards, HR directors and hiring executives needed to know.
Why, then, would he consider a different book?
Sometimes we overlook our strengths and knowledge base. “If I know this, everyone must know it. It must be obvious.” Or, “I know this stuff. I’m bored of it.”
Plus, I think he felt a little concerned that writing about what he knew so well, he wouldn’t learn anything new. The difficult, time consuming book would take research and time and tons of sorting out, but he liked the idea of the challenge.
The book that stemmed completely from his experiences, knowledge base and skills, well, that felt a little old hat.
When we revisited his goals and vision, though, it became clear that the easy book made the most sense to write. He’d be writing the right book to align with his vision. It would do the most for his business and it would serve his clients the best, which was very important to him.
The funny thing was, he had a great time writing the easy book. His stories were funny, powerful and sometimes a wild ride. He enjoyed word play and finding the perfect phrase. The more he wrote, the more fun he had. And, in my Bring Your Book to Life Program, another participant came up with a fabulous title, which branded his work perfectly.
His book attracted a traditional publisher and book deal.
So, don’t overlook the book idea that seems easy, or obvious, or old hat. It just may be that by choosing that one, you’re writing the right book, after all!
Ask any questions about how to choose a book idea and writing “the right book” as a comment below. By the way, I recently updated my post on How to Write a Great Book, which may be the perfect follow up for how to choose a book idea!