So you have an idea for a book you’d like to write. Maybe it’s a bouncing baby of an idea you’ve been nursing for some time. Or just the tiniest little new born that only emerged into the big wide world a few days ago.
What should you do next?
What are the next steps towards turning an idea into a happy, healthy, successful book and hopefully enjoying fame and fortune? (Well fame would be nice but, if that’s not possible, the fortune will do just fine!)
Well this is my very best advice to you:
Whatever you do, don’t rush off and start writing it right away.
It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve had a book idea – something I was really passionate about – and put pen to paper there and then . A day or two later it’s all ended up in the back of a drawer because my idea wasn’t quite as good as I thought.
So what do I suggest?
Once you have an idea for a book, fiction or non fiction, what you need to do is PAUSE and THINK before you start writing. Does your idea stack up? Does it have legs as a potentially successful and profitable book?
Here are some tips you might find helpful in progressing an idea into a book:
* Will anyone else be interested in reading your book? You’re the author (or will be). You obviously love your book idea. But you need to have a long, hard think (and I really do mean a long, hard think) about whether other people will love it as much or ideally more than you do.
* Will people be willing to actually buy your book? It’s quite a big leap to make from seeing a book you like the idea of on a bookshop shelf (or online) and actually buying it.
Think of it this way: Would you buy your book? Would you part with your hard earned cash to buy a copy of it? Do you like it so much that you would carry it home, or wait eagerly for several days for it to be delivered? Yes? Well that’s a good start.
* Are there several potential publishers for your book? Do some research. See what the publishing market is like for that type of fiction or non fiction topic.
Ideally you need to make sure there are at least five or six publishers for books on that subject, who might be interested in taking a look at your idea, rather than just one. This increases the odds of getting a book deal by five or six times and so on.
If there aren’t any obvious publishers for your book idea then self publishing could be worth considering. But bear in mind that’s a different proposition entirely.
* Are there any other books on the same or similar lines? And how well did they sell/how well are they selling?
If there aren’t similar, existing books ask yourself why. The chances that no one else has thought of the idea before are actually quite slim. (It could be that it’s not really a viable idea.)
The fact is, your book doesn’t have to be a totally original and unique idea. Normally it’s a good thing if there are other similar books published and selling, as it’s shows there is interest in the subject. (Although obviously you should have your own twist on the idea and, ideally, something that will make your book even better than the existing ones.)
* Have a go at writing an outline for your book. At the very least this should be a list of chapters with a few notes on what each will cover. (And, if it’s a fiction book a list of the main characters with a few notes on each.)
If you find this hard, writing the book will be even harder. If you find this easy, enjoyable, even fun then that bodes very well for your idea.
By the way, you don’t necessarily need a title at this stage. In fact, sometimes starting with a good title and trying to write a book to follow on from that is hard work. If your idea is good a great title idea will turn up sooner or later.
* Next, try writing a chapter. Or at the very least a few pages of a chapter. This doesn’t have to be the first chapter … although it’s good if it is as that is frequently the hardest.
Keep plugging away until your sample is finished. Was it harder than you expected …. or did it flow easily from your pen (so to speak), leaving you eager to write more? If so, wonderful!
* DON’T ask friends or family for advice. In my experience this is absolutely one of the worst things you can do as a would-be author. You’re likely to get one of two replies: Either your family/friends won’t want to upset you, so they’ll tell you your idea is fantastic when, possibly, it isn’t. Or your family/friends won’t want you to fail. So they’ll tell you your idea won’t work when, potentially, it could be a best seller.
Neither piece of advice is very helpful. So, unless your family/friends happen to be successful writers, or in the publishing business, don’t even mention it to them.
* But …. do, do DO take independent, expert advice. This really should be your next step. Get a second opinion from people who know what they’re doing. For example, editors, publishers, agents or ideally other experienced writers.
In book publishing, as elsewhere, people who’ve been-there-and-done-that are the best people to help you decide if your idea is really worth taking forward and help you to develop it into a book properly.
For example, take a look at what my own Criticism & Advice Service might be able to offer you. My Criticism & Advice Service can help you decide whether your book idea is worth taking further, whether it is likely to sell, and which publishers might be interested in taking it on. I can also help with improving your basic idea, plotting and structuring, creating and writing an outline and even putting a book proposal together to send to a publisher.
More details here. This service is totally impartial and risk free. It’s designed to make the whole complex process of taking your idea and turning it into a successful book as easy and pain free as it can possibly be.