Category Archives: Book ideas

Write A Book: 3 Simple Ways To Get Nonfiction Ideas Readers Love

Write A Book: 3 Simple Ways To Get Nonfiction Ideas Readers Love

You want to write a book. Specifically, you want to write a nonfiction book. Easy — ideas are everywhere.

You’re keen to get started, but every idea you develop seems trite — uninspired. You’re wondering whether you’ll ever come up with something original.

Hey, listen up… “Original” is over-rated. Let’s say you managed to develop a completely different idea for a book… An idea which no one has ever had before.

Amazing, right? A guaranteed bestseller, right? Wrong.

Hundreds of thousands of writers all over the world are cudgeling their brains and looking for ideas too. Not only is it unlikely that you’ll come up with something that no one has ever thought of before, but if you did somehow manage it, chances are that no one would buy your book.

Decide now that you’ll write a book which will sell: the only way to do that is to write what readers want.

Write a book that people want to read

Recall that you’re not just writing a book, you’re writing a book that people will want to read.

When I started my writing career, more years ago than I care to remember, a savvy editor suggested that if I wanted to sell, I write about: diets, romance, and money. That trio of topics will always be popular, because: human nature.

Let’s look at ways you can get ideas and write books that readers will love.

1. Make a list of what fascinates YOU

It’s not what you know, it’s what you love, and want to learn more about.

Before the Kindle and the self-publishing revolution, authors’ research to find ideas for books was time-consuming. Not only did you need to hustle to the library to study databases of books which were already published, you had to source lists of upcoming titles as well.

All that took time, and convincing editors that you’d found a hot topic took a lot of back and forth. Even remembering those long-ago days makes me tired. 🙂

Today, you have millions of potential readers, and those millions of readers have endless interests. No matter how esoteric your own obsessions are, it’s likely that thousands of readers share those obsessions and will want to read about them.

So make a list of what you love (or hate, come to that) and keep adding to it. The list will serve you well in years to come.

2. What problems can you solve?

Everyone is an expert on something, and nothing is ever lost on a writer.

Make a list of what you know. Consider your history, your job history, personal challenges you’ve overcome… You’ll be surprised at the length of the list, no matter how young you are. Of course, if you’re mature, you know even more.

Share your knowledge.

3. What do you do in your spare time? You’re a fan of…

What do you like to do?

Create another list. This list should include everything you’d do if money were no object, as well as your favorite pastimes.

Your three lists: competition analysis

You now have three lists.

Choose five to ten topics, and do a little competition analysis.

From this early-stage analysis, you want to know:

  • The category: how popular is the topic? Do any books covering the topic appear in Amazon’s Top 100 Best Sellers? Here’s the Top 100 for 2017.
  • Assuming that your category is represented, are the books indie published, or traditionally published? Traditionally published books are a good sign, because publishers have research resources that we don’t. (Don’t take this too seriously — publishers are often wrong. :-))
  • Potential for a shortie title. Can you come up some shortie topics with which you can test the category’s potential? Writing a couple of short titles makes sense, before you spend several months writing.

If you want to write a book, there are a million nonfiction topics

As we’ve said, with millions upon millions of readers, chances are that thousands of them will be interested in any idea you choose.

Have fun. And keep adding to your lists. Then you’ll never run out of great ideas for great books. 🙂

Yes, You’re Creative: How To Unlock Your Imagination And Build The Writing Career Of Your Dreams

Yes, You’re Creative: How To Unlock Your Imagination And Build The Writing Career Of Your Dreams

eBook: $5.99

In this book we'll aim to increase your creativity to unlock your imagination and build the writing career of your dreams.

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Nonfiction Ebooks Goldmine: Write and Sell Nonfiction Ebooks In 24 Hours Or Less

Nonfiction Ebooks Goldmine: Write and Sell Nonfiction Ebooks In 24 Hours Or Less

$5.99
Author:
Series: Selling Writer Strategies, Book 5
Genre: Writing

You're a writer. You need to make money from your words. What if you could create AND sell a nonfiction book in just a day?

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How To Write A Novel: You Need Lots Of Bad Ideas

How To Write A Novel: You Need Lots Of Bad Ideas

Recently an aspiring author in Team Up couldn’t settle on an idea for her mystery novel. “I can’t write a novel,” she told me. “I wish I could, but I can’t come up with any original ideas. Everything I want to write has been done before.”

I asked her to send me a couple of her “unoriginal” ideas. One of them was great. A reality TV show, with six everyday people, shut up in a mansion. The group would perform scenes from famous plays. Each week a performer would be voted out, and someone new would arrive. Then someone in the group is murdered.

“Sounds good to me,” I told my student. “You’ve got lots to work with. Develop your characters, and outline it.”

Here’s the thing. Every idea you think of has probably been done before. So what? You’ve never done it before, and if ten authors wrote the reality-TV idea, they’d come up with ten completely different novels.

Want to write a novel? Get lots of bad ideas

Ideas are everywhere, and of themselves, ideas aren’t worth much. It’s what you do with them that counts.

I love marketing guru Seth Godin’s advice:

“If you generate enough bad ideas a few good ones tend to show up… So the goal isn’t to get good ideas, the goal is to get bad ideas.”

What to do when you can’t get a “good” idea

As Seth suggested, get lots of bad ideas. Then start writing.

If you’re convinced that you can’t get good ideas, try some of these tricks.

1. Try keeping an idea bank

Many writers keep an idea bank. Chances are that you won’t use any of the ideas in your idea bank, but having a cache of ideas will give you confidence on bad days, when you’re convinced that you couldn’t come up with an idea with a gun to your head.

Years ago I formed a habit of carrying index cards with me everywhere. I have stacks of blank cards in my office, in my bedside drawer, in my car, and of course, in my bag. I buy them in bulk.

Every few weeks, I sort through the pile of cards I’ve tossed into a box on my desk. One or two cards get transcribed into Evernote.

2. Good ideas are the ideas which won’t leave you alone

Would I get good ideas if I didn’t have my index card habit?

Maybe, maybe not. Jotting down ideas keeps my mind working even when I’m not writing, so carrying index cards everywhere is useful. When I sit down at my computer to write a couple of thousand words of my novel, I’ve always got a card or two which kickstarts my writing for the day.

You’ll find that when you review an idea card a day or a month later, you’ll know if an idea is a good idea for you — you remember it. Your brain wants to play around with it.

3. “Bad” ideas can become good ideas

I’m always amazed (and so are my students who know this trick) of how ideas can collide and spark something new — something you know you need to write.

You can see this process at work in authors’ novels when you’re reading. For example, I’ve just read The Switch, by bestselling author Joseph Finder. The main character, Tanner, is at an airport when he picks up someone else’s MacBook Air by mistake. The laptop turns out to belong to a senator, who doesn’t want anyone to know that she has classified information on the computer.

I read the novel in a couple of sittings. The two ideas: picking up someone else’s computer by mistake, and the computer has deadly material on it, are simple ideas. You wouldn’t call either of the ideas brilliant. On the other hand, what Finder does with those pedestrian ideas is brilliant.

So, use Seth’s insight. Be happy when you get bad ideas. Before you know it, one or two will combine, and they’ll create a magical idea which inspires you so much that you know that you MUST write it.

Have fun. 🙂

Blurbs Sell Your Books: Craft Irresistible Blurbs, And Sell More Fiction And Nonfiction Today

Blurbs Sell Your Books: Craft Irresistible Blurbs, And Sell More Fiction And Nonfiction Today

eBook: $5.99

You can, when you discover the secrets of writing blurbs (book descriptions) which sell.

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More Heart To Heart: Write Hot-Selling Romance Fiction

More Heart To Heart: Write Hot-Selling Romance Fiction

eBook: $5.99
Author:
Series: Romance Writing, Book 2
Genre: Writing
Tag: writing fiction

I adore writing romance fiction, and now you can write romance too.

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Get Started On Your Novel (More Ideas)

Get Ideas

If you want to write a novel, and aren’t sure how to get started, I gave you some ideas in this blog post,
How to Write A Book When You’re Not Sure What You Want to Write | Write a Book: Just Write A Book Blog:

Use the News for Inspiration

Years ago, when I subscribed to a couple of daily papers, I’d clip anything which gave me an idea for an article, an essay, or a book. I had a filing cabinet crammed with clippings.

These days, I still clip, and still get inspired, but I use EagleFiler. (If you use Windows, OneNote is useful.)

You can use news stories to provide inspiration for many books.”

I’ve been coaching writers on finding ideas for their books; I’ll share what’s worked for them.

1. (Fiction) Get inspiration from character traits

Think about someone you know well. What’s their primary character trait? Maybe you know someone who’s a worrier (the sky is falling), or a girly girl (saving for a boob job), or a daredevil (base jumper).

Create a character with that primary trait. Let’s say the girly girl. What would be the worst job in the world for her? Let’s say that for whatever reasons, she needs to go into the army, or become a nun…

You could build an entire plot from that.

2. (Fiction) Get inspiration from history

You need to enjoy history for this one, but you don’t need to be a huge history buff.

Think of an historical character. Let’s say: Captain Cook (a hero of mine), or Cleopatra, or Anne Boleyn.

Look them up on Wikipedia.

How would you describe Cleopatra? Write a short description.

Now transplant Cleo to our current era — or to any other era. She’s a clever, strong woman, with a rich inheritance. Who are her enemies? Who would try to use her? What goals would she have?

3. (Fiction) Get inspiration from a book

Consider Scarlett from Gone With the Wind, or Sherlock Holmes. Countless femme fatales and detectives have been modeled on those two characters.

Writing Platform

“Fan fiction” has a dubious reputation, but it worked for EL James and her Fifty Shades trilogy, which was modeled on the Twilight books.

Take a character you love from a book, and do your own interpretation of the character. I wouldn’t write fan fiction; you can, if you wish. Don’t copy, of course. Take whatever appeals to you most from a character, and create your own character.

Update… 

4. Get inspiration from the news

What’s in the news? 

I just checked our local news, and several stories would work as novel starters.  (One story was  about a young girl who’d been missing for three days, and was found hundreds of miles away, another was a story about a shark attack.)

You’ll find hundreds of news stories which can inspire a novel. Forget the details of the story, ask yourself why you find it interesting. What emotions does it arose in you? How could you use those emotions in a novel?

Write five first lines for each story, then choose one, and write six paragraphs. You may well be inspired to continue… s 

The above three methods are fun. Use them, and become inspired to write your own novel.