Test Your Idea

test-ideasIdeas are the motors that drive nonfiction books. Often, it’s the book idea, the promise of what will come, that most fascinates publishers and readers and gets them to buy books. Terrific ideas stimulate thought, excitement, and curiosity and make people want to read books. So before you try to write a single word, make sure that the concept for your book is not just good, but great.

Your book idea must be outstanding because it will help generate the energy that you will need to move forward and take all the steps necessary to write the book. Your idea can spur others to support your book, to talk it up, to promote it, and to help make it a big hit. Ideas and inspirations for books are everywhere; they’re triggered by an unlimited array of sources. Malcolm Gladwell, who wrote the bestselling Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (Little, Brown, 2005), gets his ideas from random places; he doesn’t have a system. “I’m sort of a magpie.

People tell me things or I read them and then follow up. I collect little bits, pieces and stories.

Then, I go back and follow them up. I make it a point to try to talk to as many people from as many disparate places as possible and kind of try to pick their brains. I don’t think that there is any formal way of doing it; it’s a very social process,” Gladwell discloses. “When I come across a wonderful story, I try to marry that story to a broader theme or concept,” Gladwell explains. “When I have a great idea or concept, I try to find a narrative to go along with it.

A lot of what I do is matching stories and ideas. I’ve sat on wonderful stories for years before I found a way to use it or visa versa. I like to write things that have both of those features: have a kind of story and a kind of intellectual component. That means I have to be patient sometimes.” “Just open up your eyes, your ears and your heart and you’ll see them,” Dr. Dan Baker, coauthor of What Happy People Know (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2004), advises. Much of what you see, if presented well, could make an interesting book.

For example, you could write about your observations; a subject that has been your lifelong passion; people or events that intrigue you; what you do as a career, hobby, or quest; or a topic that you want to learn. Your book idea could be generated by your experiences; problems you’ve learned to solve; new methods you’ve perfected; or a word, picture, or incident that trips the book-writing receptors in your brain. “Keep your antennae up, keep watching for openings and opportunities, and things will happen,” Louis Patler suggests. “Position yourself to see opportunities and take advantage of them when they arise.”

Reprinted from “Rick Frishman‘s Sunday Tips.” Subscribe at http://www.rickfrishman.com and receive Rick’s “Million Dollar Rolodex” which is 141 pages long.