5 Ways to Develop a Book Idea - Writer's Digest

5 Ways to Develop a Book Idea

Having an idea and developing that idea into a marketable, publishable book are two different things. I learned this early in the process when trying to decide what kind of book I wanted to write. That's why I'm offering up these tips that I learned along the way. I hope to save you a few headaches and a little time as you develop your idea.
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Having an idea and developing that idea into a marketable, publishable book are two different things. I learned this early in the process when trying to decide what kind of book I wanted to write.

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Oh-Boy-Youre-Having-A-Girl

BOOK GIVEAWAY:

To win one of the five autographed copies of OH BOY, YOU’RE HAVING A GIRL, simply leave a comment on this post or any of the posts related to the “How I Got OH BOY Published” series. I will pick five random winners throughout the month of June. (Winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. Please note that comments may take a little while to appear on the site; this is normal. Deadline is June 30, 2013).

For an additional chance to win, click this CLICK TO TWEET button and post to Twitter. I’ll track those as well.

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Like many writers, I'd always dreamed of writing a book—a super power all of us have. And, like many writers, I put it off indefinitely to tend to other things, like softball and raising kids and watching reruns of "Friends." I had been honing my craft for years while writing a parenting blog, strengthening my voice and, slowly but surely, developing an audience for my writing. It took two major events life-changing events happening within the span of six months (the death of my dad and my sister-in-law) to kick me into gear. These events got me thinking, What if I die before I can live out my dream?

So I sat down and forced myself to develop an idea that I could turn into a book. That idea eventually turned into the recently released, OH BOY, YOU'RE HAVING A GIRL: A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters (great gift for Father's Day, I might add!). It took considerable time to come up with the right hook. That's why I'm offering up these tips that I learned along the way. I hope to save you a few headaches and a little time as you develop your idea.

1. Force Yourself to Sit Down and Think

Like most writers, I come up with ideas for books daily. Could be from a magazine article that caught my eye. Could be from a conversation I overheard. Could be from a dream I had. One idea came from a joke written on a popsicle stick! But were any of these ideas actually any good? Thanks to the success of my parenting blog TheLifeOfDad.com, I knew that the book I wanted to write needed to be about parenting, so it helped me weed out the most ridiculous ideas and focus on the ones that were most likely built to suit my writing.

2. Force Yourself to Do Some Research

Every genre and market already has many books associated with it. In order to find success, you have to find a way to make your book stand out. When I was considering ideas for OH BOY, I searched on Amazon and spent time at Barnes & Noble, browsing all the books in the parenting section. There were plenty of how-to books and "what to expect" books and sentimental books, so I had to figure out where my niche would be. One of my favorite books of all time is W. Bruce Cameron's, 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter. This got me thinking: I have three daughters all under the age of five, so What if I wrote a humorous guide for the early years of raising a daughter? And that's how the idea of OH BOY was born.

3. Force Yourself to Write

Having a good idea is only half the battle. Executing that idea into a book takes time, patience and plenty of caffeine. I started with an introduction, setting a goal of 1,500 words. If I couldn't come up with 1,500 words that opened the doorway to a book on the topic, then I shouldn't write it. Thankfully, I did write an introduction—and a reasonably solid one at that. It took me a couple of tries and a lot of editing, but once I cleared that hurdle I was confident I could write a full book on the topic.

4. Force Yourself to Form a Gameplan

How many chapters should the book have? What should the topics be? Should my book be straight humor or humor mixed with actual advice? Forming a gameplan is much like developing a book proposal that you'd ship off to an agent or editor. It's helpful to answer these questions before you start writing your book and querying agents. If you're writing nonfiction (like me), you need a full outline when querying. If you're writing a novel, you'll need to write the entire book first before making your pitches. Either way, the earlier in the process you can make decisions, the better—it'll help keep you glued to the task at hand, which is write your book.

5. Force Yourself to Have Fun and Believe in Your Writing

Every writer goes through moments of self-doubt. We're in a business that is designed to reject people over and over again, even the brilliant ones who go on to sell millions of copies. (Did you know Kathryn Socket's The Help was turned down 60 times before finally landing an agent and going on to be a bestseller—and a movie?) Keep in mind that you love writing and, no matter how hard it seems at times, you're doing it because you enjoy it. The more you do that and the more you believe in what you're trying to accomplish, the harder you'll work at it and the better your idea and your writing will be for it.

Want to Win an Autographed Copy of
OH BOY, YOU'RE HAVING A GIRL?

To win one of the five autographed copies of OH BOY, YOU'RE HAVING A GIRL, simply leave a comment on this post or any of the posts related to the "How I Got OH BOY Published" series. I will pick five random winners throughout the month of June. (Winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. Please note that comments may take a little while to appear on the site; this is normal. Deadline is June 30, 2013). For an additional chance to win, click this CLICK TO TWEET button and post to Twitter. I'll track those as well.

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Follow me on Twitter: @BrianKlems
Check out my humor book, Oh Boy, You're Having a Girl.
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