Worried about having a solid book project idea worth writing? Does your book need to be the only one on the subject? This article will help you navigate the myriad of possibilities you have right now—some of which you may not even be aware you have right in front of you. Just remember this:
“Every book is like a snowflake; each one fascinatingly unique because of the wonder, beauty and creativity that comes from the soul, of which there is only one of its kind.”—Robert Nahas
The Right Book Project Idea
How can you know whether you have a good book project idea or a dud? So many people are inspired to create a book but have insecurities about the interest level of their audience. “Is it as important to others as I think it is?” “Will people see this as valuable?” In other words, will people want to buy and read your book?
How do we decide or discover what to write about? Do we write for ourselves, or is there some larger scheme of things? What’s the best way to come up with a book project idea? In this article, we’ll explore how to narrow down numerous book ideas to reach the one to go with on your book writing journey.
We’ll look at different types of books that might stir your imagination.
We’ll review some book plot ideas to start picturing the world where the action of your story takes place.
Brainstorming is a sort of “book idea generator” that gets concepts flowing from your mind and onto the page. So we’ll look at this as well.
As important as plot is the book character idea, which usually starts with a protagonist (the person you want to root for) with whom the reader will be spending much time.
Finally, we’ll explore some ebook ideas, looking at some of the bestselling genres in this important format.
It’s important to remember that your idea for a book project can come from many sources. Usually, the concept you settle on for your book comes out of developing and writing ideas from several different places. If you’ve read my article on creative writing prompts, you already know that your inspiration can come from things like books, music and other art, places, experiences….
Also, there’s the rule of thumb from one of the most successful writers in history, Stephen King: when you begin your second draft, that’s when you’ll know what your book is about.
Ultimately, your book ideas, though inspired from different sources, will come from the place inside you where insight and intuition live. In other words, where you feel your ideas resonate. Sometimes that may be from your heart, other times your mind, and so on. The sources that resonate strongest within you will stir and awaken some part of you where you can facilitate your most organic writing. And your most compelling stories will be unique to you, coming from your imagination, perspective and feelings.
Like I’ve been known to say often, “Every book is like a snowflake; each one fascinatingly unique because of the wonder, beauty and creativity that comes from the soul of which there is only one of its kind.”
This reveals how there can be countless books on the same topic, and yet people continue to read more than one of them. So take your inspiration from others and make your book a reflection of you.
The world of the novelist or non-fiction author can be thrillingly creative. There are endless genres and hybrid genres into which you can place your story. Gaining ideas and inspiration is half the fun. Start your author journey today.
Type of Books
When considering the type of books you might want to write, it’s good to look at these three categories to see which resonates with you and you generally feel strongest writing in:
This is the genre for the long format, relatively unabridged story of your life.
Akin to the autobiography, this genre is based on your own experiences, but it usually focuses on a specific time in your life. It can be about days or decades, but it’s not as comprehensive as an autobiography.
Biographies can be written through research and/or personal experience with the person about whom the book is written. They are the life stories of people other than yourself.
The art world is rich with potential sources of inspiration for your non-fiction book. Maybe you already have a favorite painter, film director, style of music, and so on, which you can expound upon at length. If so, a book of collected works and/or insights might be the choice for you.
Art books and books of criticism differ in that the latter usually takes a more academic form. Criticism looks at art in depth, offering quantitative and qualitative assessments of the subject art and artist(s). In criticism, the reader expects detailed analysis and contextual information on the topic at hand.
Best practices, scientific surveys, and emerging methods are just three of hundreds of approaches one might take in writing a book for students, teachers or established professors.
This genre has gained popularity in recent years, especially with the publication of biographies of Abraham Lincoln, John Adams, and Alexander Hamilton. Of course books can take any number of approaches; they don’t need to be biographies. There can be a period of history that interests you, such as the Civil War or one of the world wars. The American Industrial Revolution and the dawn of the Information Age or peacetime, among many others, are options for writing history.
Non-Fiction for Children:
This is another genre that often crosses over into biography, since children generally enjoy stories with real people “just like them.”
Suffice to say that this genre has never been more popular!
Some say science is out of fashion, but you wouldn’t know it looking at non-fiction book sales. Books about the human brain and biology in general are popular, as are anthropological stories.
Avid sports fans number in the many millions, and sports authors have been venerated for a hundred years or more.
Are you an expert in a certain field, or do you have a specific skill you can teach others? If so, then the how-to book might be the choice for you.
3. Memoir or Biography
These genres are included here in the “Knowledge” category as well as in the “Experience” category, because memoirs and biographies sometimes begin as documents of what the authors know about a topic. Later, perhaps in the second draft, the writer gains an understanding that the story is more personal.
Within the very broad category of fiction, perhaps more than in any other, you’ll find authors who combine two or more of the genres listed below. Inexperienced writers sometimes feel locked into only one narrow style, and that can be at the detriment of good storytelling.
Take for example the wildly successful Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. In her books, you’ll find elements of adventure, children’s fiction, fantasy, mystery/suspense, psychological thriller, sci-fi, young adult, and more. Her particular concoctions will not likely be the same as yours; you’ll create your own. Whether you strictly stick to one genre or mix together 10 or more is up to you. If you find yourself working with an editor from a publishing house, they will likely have a say in it as well, but that’s a good “problem” to have because they have data about what books sell.
Here are some common genres of fiction:
This genre usually sees the main character setting out on a physical or mental test.
Children’s books are very popular, and their topics can be as tiny or grand you like.
We’re all familiar with the detective books of the old days: the “noir” novels with a tough-talking, gumshoe private dick (private detective) who stays one step ahead of the criminal. Of course, there are thousands of variations of the crime novel.
The fantasy novel has long been a favorite of imaginative authors who realty want to let their creativity roam free and soar. We see examples of this genre in stories featuring hobbits, dragons, wizardry, and more.
This genre has grown in popularity in recent years, as more readers become interested in novels set in some iteration of a storied past.
It’s nice to know that you can combine fact with fiction in what’s known as Historical Fiction. You write the facts and also have the creative license to tell a story of how things may have plausibly happened over the things we don’t know about events in history.
There are limitless possibilities you can write about, from how two people might have fallen in love to what the fallout was like for a family or neighborhood from some major event.
These novels can be regarded as the equivalent of “serious” drama films. The literary author is as concerned with the craft of writing as they are with the plot of any given story.
Here we have the famous territory of the Agatha Christies and Arthur Conan Doyles of the world. Here we also see examples of the blurred lines between and among the genres of fiction. After all, mystery and suspense novels almost always include a crime or a series of crimes.
This genre is often a hybrid, too. Elements of mystery, suspense, crime, and other types of stories are often blended together with some form of (known or unknown) psychological disturbance in one or more characters.
These novels don’t have to be the stereotypical, flowery, saccharine love stories. Again, romance can be just one element of just about any genre. Anne Rice famously made romances out of her vampire stories—or vampire stories out of her romances!
Science fiction is a tremendous genre within the realm of fiction. Hundreds of classics hold places in the pantheon of sci-fi authors, and more books are being added every year. You probably know some of these stories set in the future, about space travel, about science here on Earth, and much more.
The American West is a classic setting for stories of all kinds—even sci-fi, if you consider the recent mashup book Cowboys & Aliens. The familiar, transportive feel of westerns contribute to their popularity.
Authors and publishers alike have been chasing after the next Twilight, The Hunger Games, or Harry Potter ever since they got over the shock of how many books each series sold. Even outside of those blockbuster titles, the young adult market is a big one, offering many types of stories for readers 12-18 years old.
As with any art form, writing invites experimentation. The genres listed above are meant as starting points for ideas and structure. We’ve looked at examples of books where the author has combined elements of several genres. The experimental author might take it a step further. They might combine fiction and non-fiction into a hybrid form. The possibilities are endless. The major categories, genres, and any combination thereof exist to serve your writing craft and storytelling.
Book Plot Ideas
Whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction, you’ll want to examine how your story develops and the action within. As I emphasized earlier, books are inextricably tied to stories. Even if your book is non-fiction, you need to tell good stories in it—in this case, true ones. Let’s look at some conflicts that can be used as “pressure points” that move your stories along.
- An unforeseen event upends the life of the protagonist.
- You were privy to an important negotiation, and the real story hasn’t been told.
- Three people (a “triangle”) vie for love or power where there is only room for two.
- A U.S. president struggled with poverty as a young man.
Book Idea Generator
You can develop many more book plot ideas on your own through the process of brainstorming.
- Start with a pencil and a blank sheet of paper.
- Let your ideas flow freely onto the page.
- Now is not the time for fully crafted sentences and extensive editing.
- Use symbols, draw pictures, and whatever else moves your ideas from your mind to the paper.
You can create your own book idea generator, and here’s how:
- Take the following 5 aspects to a story: PROTAGONIST, ANTAGONIST, SETTING, CONFLICT and THEME.
- Work through each aspect, making up a scenario for each.
- Rework the aspects as you wish.
- Create more aspects as you need until you get inspired to write about what you’ve come up with.
Here’s an example of your own Book Idea Generator for a fictional story:
PROTAGONIST: Sara—a homeless single mom in her mid 30s.
ANTAGONIST: Calvin—ex-husband is a crooked politician who cheated on her and verbally abused her.
SETTING: Present day, New York City.
CONFLICT: Sara wants to figure out how to make a better life for her son. Ex wants to make sure she never sees a day of happiness and has the connections to make it happen.
THEME: A hero’s story about overcoming impossible odds.
Creating your own book idea generator is just about being methodical.
For non-fiction “how-to,” use these aspects: PROBLEM, DESIRE, CONFLICT, SOLUTION and GOAL.
PROBLEM: People are not able to pay their bills.
DESIRE: People want to have a life of success and happiness.
CONFLICT: People don’t know what to do during this pandemic in finding work.
SOLUTION: Show others how to create their own careers working from home as book authors and thought leaders.
GOAL: Readers able to start up their own home-based businesses within 30 days.
You can see how the non-fiction how-to book idea generator enables you to come up with a valuable and practical book concept.
You can do this for any genre with any type of book. Simply put, you are preplanning your book!
Book Main Idea
What is the main idea of your book? Don’t underestimate the power of questions. Ask yourself:
- What is the moral of my story?
- What are the main events in my story?
- Why does the plot of my story unfold the way it does?
Think of this as the takeaway of your book; what readers will tell their friends they got out of it.
Book Character Idea
Developing a book character, you can also benefit from the process of brainstorming.
- What is the character’s history?
- What are their motivations?
- What do they look like?
- What is their temperament?
- Do they live with internal conflicts of any kind?
It’s rare to find a character, in any book, who doesn’t fit an archetype (a very typical example of a person). One reason for this is because for readers to root for the protagonist, they have to be able to relate to him or her. So archetypes are well worth studying. Which archetypes do you want to include in your book?
So, you want to be an author. Most authors don’t just start writing and end up with a completed book in a few weeks. Building a book is a process, and there are infinite ways of approaching it.
E-book ideas are the same as print book ideas. Obviously, if you’re going to have a print book, you might as well have an e-book, and vice versa. There is no extra work involved. It’s just a matter of technology and format.
One caveat you will absolutely run into is the incompatibility of your document in being accepted to Amazon’s KDP system. You will find this process extremely frustrating. But there is a fast and simple way to avoid the countless hours and raised blood pressure.
My developers here at Writer Services will turn your book into the necessary formats like Kindle, Nook and Sony e-reader formats quickly and at low cost. Just contact us when you’re ready to publish your book, and we’ll take care of this for you.
Finally, let’s consider the increased speed that books are now written and published. With the availability of e-book technologies, the manufacture of physical books is now almost a luxury. This has created great opportunities for authors.
Increasingly, writers are creating “universes” that provide characters and stories for a series—or multiple series—of books. Could you produce multiple books in, say, a three-year span? If so, what would the universe you create be like?