What are you reading right now? What about the last book you read? Have you ever thought of writing a book yourself? If so, what is your idea for this book and why should readers be interested in it? In other words: Do you know if your book idea will work? And, along those lines, do you have enough material to create a book worth publishing? In this post, I’ll share some things to consider when evaluating your book idea.
All things start with an idea. Whether that idea makes it out into the world depends on the quality of the idea and the determination to see it to fruition.
It is easy to come up with an idea for a book, but not all ideas are created equal. Some ideas for a book might actually end up being enough for only a chapter. Others might be too big for a single book.
When evaluating your idea for book, you will need to consider several things:

  • Do you have the information, experience, and knowledge to write this book?
  • Why should someone want to read this book?
  • Do you have a feasible game plan for developing your book idea?
  • Will you be able to market the book effectively?

Let me dive into each of these questions a bit more deeply so that you can better assess your book idea.

Do You Have the Information, Experience, and Knowledge to Write This Book?

When you are well-versed in your topic, writing a book is a lot easier. Therefore having knowledge and experience can be very helpful. This is true whether you are writing fiction or nonfiction. If you are unfamiliar with the genre in which you wish to write, then you may find that your resulting story uses old, worn-out tropes that readers of that genre have grown weary of — and that would be disastrous for the marketability of your book.

Barring knowledge and experience, do you have access to the information you need to write and develop the book idea? Yes, the Internet can be very helpful with initial research, but you’re going to need to dig deeper than that if you want your book to be good.
How much time are you willing to spend creating your book? The more you know up-front, the less time it will take to write. For example, I was able to write two of my books pretty much in less than a week because I had the information at my fingertips and in my head. It was just a matter of plunking my butt in the seat and typing away. However, my other three books took a bit of research to supplement my innate knowledge and therefore took a bit longer to write.
3 Questions to ask yourself
Only you can judge whether your idea is a good use of your time to develop.

Why Should Someone Want to Read this Book?

Why Should Someone Want to Read your Book
Before you begin writing, you need to understand your readers and their motivations for wanting to read your book. Will it solve a problem that other books don’t solve? Will it be more accessible or entertaining than other books on the topic? What is your book’s unique hook that will attract readers?
To answer these questions you need to have a clear idea of who your reader is. This is called Reader or Audience Avatar. When you understand the demographics and psychographics of your ideal reader, you can develop a book that speaks to them directly. The book will attract them and keep them engaged because they will relate to your content in some way.
You should also do some “competition” research. Are there other books with a similar idea? If so, that’s great news because it means that your idea is marketable and people are interested in the topic or general plot.
Also, dive into your book idea and understand what benefits your book will provide its readers. This is easier for nonfiction, but can be done for fiction, as well. When you understand what your book can do for your audience, you have a better understanding of why people would want to read it.

Do you have a feasible game plan for developing your project?

It is one thing to have an idea for a book. It is another to have an idea of how to make it happen. Writing a book takes a bit more preparation than writing a report or a blog post.

Is your idea solid enough to create a plan?

Vague ideas turn into unfocused, unreadable prose. Make sure you have a clear focus for your book before you write. One exercise you can do, if your idea passes the other tests in this blog post, is to develop a mini book proposal that includes a summary, a projected table of contents, a short competition assessment, and a projected marketing plan. If you can create a 3-4 page document with those four components, odds are your idea is solid enough to develop a fully fleshed out plan.

What value will your book deliver?

Readers only buy and read books that provide them some sort of value or benefit. What benefit does your book have to offer? Knowing this upfront will help make sure you deliver on your book’s promise. I mentioned this in the last section, but it bears repeating. One exercise is to write down all the benefits that someone would get from reading your book. Do this as a brainstorming exercise and jot down any idea that comes to mind without judgement — ridiculous or not. You can evaluate them later and you might be surprised that an idea you initially thought was silly, inspires something of value.

What is your book’s Unique Selling Point (USP)?

What makes your book different? For example, Public Speaking Super Powers uses the superhero metaphor to teach speaking skills. Other books may have used a superhero title or cover, but only my book fully embraced the metaphor throughout. You will need to do some competition research to truly discern how your book stands out from the rest, as well as to make sure that it does.

What is your goal for the book?

Do you want to attract clients? Do you want to be a bestseller? Do you want to have something to share at networking events? You need to be clear on what you want to achieve with your book before you start writing so that everything from beginning to end moves you toward that goal. Most of my books have achieved the goals I’ve set for them because I was clear on that goal from the outset. The books that didn’t, were the books where I wasn’t as clear on the goal or got distracted from the goal along the way.

Will you be able to market the book effectively?

There are a lot of ways that you can market a book. However, the important question here is will you and can you market this particular book the way it needs to be marketed?

What do I mean by that? I mean do you have access to the audience who will want to read it? And if not, do you have the time and/or money to gain access to that audience? If not, this might not be the best time to develop this book. You might be better served taking the time to build visibility in that market first, then launching the book.

Who is your audience?

I’m touching on this again because it is that important. You have to know who your readers are before you write your book…unless all you want to do is say you’re an author and don’t care if anyone reads it. That is a valid goal, but it probably isn’t yours.

Did Your Book Idea Make the Cut?

Now that you’ve evaluated your idea through the lens of these questions, are you ready to start writing? If you’ve done the pre-work, the writing phase is much easier.

There is no right way to write a book. Some authors know every detail before they sit down at their computer. Others have a sketchy idea in their mind, or on paper, and they use that as a starting point. Still others write chapters as they come to them and weave them together later. Find a process that works for you and your project. (I’ve used a different process for each of my books!)
Don’t worry if you can’t see the whole picture from the start. More than likely, even if you planned your book from beginning to end, things will change as the project evolves. When I first outlined Public Speaking Super Powers, I thought I had my Table of Contents down. However, as I was writing it, I realized I had totally forgotten to include a key chapter!
If your book idea passed your evaluation process, start writing it. Second and third drafts are where the polished prose will emerge. The goal of the first draft is to just get it done and out of your head.
Ready? Grab your writing tool of choice and go!


Successful Books Leave Clues

Are you putting off writing your book because you are afraid your idea isn’t good enough? The Book Idea Diagnostic dives into your book idea to uncover the potential it already has and identifies specific areas for growth and improvement.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally posted on CarmaSpence.com in July 2019. It has been updated and enhanced for content.

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