You’ve learned the fundamentals of becoming a writer, and now you're determined to make a career out of it... But where do you start? Most people get intimidated at the idea of completing a book, and feel lost before ever starting. Does this sound familiar?
Coming up with a lucrative book idea can be a challenge regardless of your experience as a writer; however, there are ways to get your creative juices flowing.
A Good Book = Passion from the author + A structure that readers can easily follow and reference + An overall message worth sharing.
If you want readers to treasure your book, it’s important to understand what makes a book great, and keep working with this in mind.
Here are some of the top components that make a good book:
Now that you've identified the components of a good book, it's time to figure out what to write about.
Fiction and nonfiction are completely opposite worlds when it comes to writing.
You have to determine what type of writing interests you – do you lean towards guides and how-tos – maybe consider self-help books? Maybe you want to create new worlds, realities, and characters – fiction is the way to go!
Next, determine what kind of fiction you want to write.
Statista found that the most popular genres among fiction were:
Think about the genres you enjoy reading to figure out which genres you’ll enjoy writing about. After you’ve narrowed down your ideal categories, it’s time to come up with your book ideas.
The greatest thing about writing fiction is that it’s pretty much anything you can imagine.
So, first things first.
Don’t neglect using writing prompts
All writers could use a kick to catalyze their imagination and creativity.
The kick – “writing prompts” – avoid writer’s block and get short ideas and story concepts to help get you started.
Go outdoors, slow your mind down a bit and observe your surroundings. Get into the habit of turning your attention outward and see what catches your eye or sparks ideas. When something grabs your attention, write it down in a notebook or on your phone.
Getting inspiration from how you view the world is what will make your writing uniquely yours; these external observations are just as valuable.
The brainstorming process helps flesh out ideas on your story and create a framework for your book.
The initial goal isn't to create a masterpiece here and now. Write as many ideas as possible without regard to whether it's good or bad, relevant or superfluous. Include individual thoughts, stories, quotes, or facts even if you don’t have the exact words or numbers yet.
When you get the foundation of a new story idea, ask yourself as many questions as possible to take the idea and build on it.
Do not limit yourself!
Did you know that the story idea for The Big Lebowski features Joel and Ethan Coen's real-life stoner friend as the detective?
This technique is very simple – try to observe the traits of a friend, relative, or colleague, jot down a few notes about their behavior and see if it gives you any ideas for a story.
Try to shift your focus from the current period by thinking of problems from different times, whether that’s the past or future. Put in your own twist and imagine how things would be if a few key details were changed.
Use the “What if?” technique to help you expand the idea.
This fiction writing technique is the cornerstone of a genre known as alternate history fiction. AH is a genre of speculative fiction where a historical event or events transpire differently.
A combination of passion and purpose will give room for inspiration. Try making a list of both and see where they can intersect.
If your knowledge on these topics can serve your potential readers, you may be on to a marketable idea.
What are a few topics you seem to know more about than the average person?
What do you devote your time and resources to?
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to reveal what you’re knowledgeable about:
Your answers will help you discover some common themes.
This technique is a way to work backward from your own interests. Determine which book idea you want to push forward with by thinking which enthralls you the most. What kind of books tug on your emotions or pique your interests? Most likely that’s something you'd also like to share your thoughts about.
Jot down a list of 30-50 topics, be impartial and let your subconscious speak for you.
Statista states that “in the first half of 2018, unit sales of adult nonfiction books in the self-help category in the United States stood reached almost eight million, and over 8.3 million books centered around cooking or entertaining were sold in the country in that time period”.
Take your pick from this list: Biography, Health & Sports, History, Hobbies, Humor, Computers.
Now that you have ideas on what you're an expert in and what’s trending, you can get to the real core of writing a great nonfiction book: comprehensive research on the subject.
No matter what specific topic is, people read nonfiction to pursue two goals – to learn and grow. They want to gain and master new skills, solve problems, and improve their lives.
As a nonfiction author, your aim is to help them do that!
Now that you’ve found some inspiration to help you land on the right book idea, accept this challenge to start writing your book!