Writing a book involves a great deal of time and effort, and sometimes the most difficult part is figuring out what you want to write about in the first place. Whether fiction or non-fiction, deciding on the idea for a book can propel you beyond the "I hope to someday write a book" stage and into the "I'm writing a book" stage, leading to the triumphant "I wrote a book" stage.
Where to Find Non-Fiction Inspiration
Writing a non-fiction book should stem from your own interests or expertise. At the very least, the book should be on a topic you are excited to research extensively.
Further Your Credibility
Many professionals choose to write books because it helps them seem more credible in their area of expertise and makes them more marketable overall. If you are very good at what you do and have advice that people within your field will benefit from, writing a book can bolster your own professional standing.
Is there a topic that frequently comes up in your conversations with other people that you continually seem to emerge as the expert? If others find your insights interesting and valuable on a certain topic - and you think this topic might be marketable as a book - it might be a good option for a book topic.
Fill a Gap
If you've ever muttered to yourself, "Someone should really write a book about this," then perhaps you will be the author to make that happen. Or if you have access to information or resources that nobody else has and you can turn this into a book, it may fill a gap that helps other people.
Fiction Book Idea Sources
Most people write fiction books because they have an idea for a story. Where the inspiration for the story began varies from writer to writer.
- For some, it's from a dream they had or a scene they witnessed in real life.
- For others, the idea for a book comes from the age-old writing prompt of, "What if?" What if a mysterious box was left on the doorstep and changed everything? What if the clouds house heaven and it's reachable by stumbling upon a sacred ladder? What if every time a certain baby sneezed, people burst into flames?
- Some authors make the claim that the stories just show up in their heads and they aren't entirely sure where the story came from.
Write a Better Book
Perhaps you've read a book and thought to yourself that the story line would have been better going in a different direction - that may be the perfect starting point for your book. Of course, you don't want to plagiarize another author's work, but what you can do is be inspired by their work and create your own story with different characters and settings. For example, the wildly popular 50 Shades of Grey book series was originally fan fiction inspired by the Twilight series.
Follow the Story
While some writers stringently follow an outline for a novel, many writers find that once they have a basic premise for a story they allow the story to flow in whatever direction seems right to them. For this reason, you may find that a short story evolves into a much longer one meriting a book, or you may find that your story has the potential to go in a different direction entirely, prompting the desire to write a book. Simply put: just keep writing. The ideas for your book, and the book in its entirety, will reveal itself in time.
Ideas Should Meet Realistic Expectations
Writing a book takes a lot of dedication and talent. Once you know what you want to write about, consider some of the less-glamorous details to set yourself up for success:
- Decide whether you want to self-publish or pursue traditional publishing as this may affect what you write.
- Know your audience and keep it in mind while writing; for example, if you're writing for teens, avoid adult themes that could exclude your book from young adult classification.
- The ideal word count for an adult novel is around 85,000 while a nonfiction book word count is closer to 50,000. While these aren't absolute rules, keep them in mind as you write.
- Recruit some trusted readers to read your story and give you honest feedback - their insight may sway the direction of your story.
Make sure you can tell your entire story within the confines of the book, unless you plan on writing an entire series.
Editors Shape and Finalize Your Ideas
The help of an experienced editor will prove invaluable upon the completion of your book, so plan on securing an editor to help you along in the polishing process of the book. Writing a book is typically a solo event, but you don't have to finish it up without some help.