One of the most popular questions I get from a new author is: “how do I know that my book will sell?” From an aspiring author, the most popular question is: “how do I know that my idea is a good one?”
The answer to the first question is — “write for a market, then do your best promoting your book. No one knows for sure.”
The answer to the second question is — “a good idea for you is an idea which has a market and which is EASY for you to write.”
Let’s talk about EASY ideas. For any author, not only for a new author, finding ideas which are easy for you to write is vital.
Are you a new author? Keep it simple and easy
Ideas are everywhere; not every idea is a good idea for you. If I gave you ten minutes, I’m sure you could come up with ten ideas for books.
They might be all great ideas, but here’s a secret from the world of professional writing. When a commercial writer is offered a gig, his first thought is: “What will this take?” In other words, how easy is the project?
Challenging projects take time. Clients are rarely prepared to pay for all the extra time a project consumes. So the professional’s primary aim is always to keep it simple and easy — or get the client to pay for extras — otherwise he doesn’t eat.
You can use the same question: “What will this take?” when you get an idea for a book. Time is money for you too. Most importantly: if you make a habit of choosing challenging ideas, you’ll end up with many partially-written books on your hard drive.
Ideas for fiction: write what you enjoy reading (keep research to a minimum)
My reading tastes are eclectic — I’ll read pretty much anything. Checking my home library however, and my Kindle library, it’s easy to see that I like historical romances from various time periods, mysteries and thrillers.
What do you like to read? If you like vampire novels and space operas, it may be hard for you to write a contemporary romance, no matter how popular these romances might be. You could do it, of course. But you’d spend so much time reading in the genre that it could take you a year or more to write the novel. Perhaps you’d start the novel, then get bored, or frustrated, and never complete it.
The best fiction ideas for you are ideas for novels which are in a genre you know, and which you can write with minimal research.
That said, if you get an idea for a novel which will take HUGE amounts of research, but you can’t get the story out of your mind — go for it. Inspiration trumps everything else.
Ideas for nonfiction: write what you know (or can easily find out)
As with fiction, your aim in finding great ideas for nonfiction books is finding ideas you love, but which are easy for you to write. Ideally, you’ll write from your own experience, or write about something in which you’re hugely interested… as long as there’s a market for your passion.
New author or experienced professional: answer “what will this take?”
Ask yourself: “what will this take?” before you invest time and energy in a fiction or nonfiction idea. Not only will you write more books, but you’ll sell more too.
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