Before you begin writing your book, it is essential that you ensure your concept is strong enough to build a story and a following (if you haven’t already established your readership). Authors are led to believe that their books are about what they love and what fascinates them. However, it is prudent to remember that your book is primarily for your readers. They are the ones that will be purchasing your books and essentially hold the fate of your book(s) in their hands. So creating a strong book concept is important, as it is the beginning framework for a story that your publisher will be eager to publish and your readers will be intrigued to read.
The inevitable question remains: how do you find the perfect combination of what you love to write and what your readers will love to read? The following are 6 tips to aid in strengthening those book ideas swimming around in your mind and help those elusive thoughts become more concrete.
1. Determine What You’re Excited About:
Although your book is meant for readers, it is important to remember that it is your book. With that being said, pick a topic and concept that excites you and one that you can work ardently on for over a year (depending on how long it takes you to write your proposal and finished draft).
What is your main focus, and where is there a gap in that genre that you can fill with your book? The best way to approach this question is by writing down initial ideas that pique your interest. It’s okay to be overflowing with book concepts at this stage because they will be teased out as we go along in the strengthening process.
2. Talk to Your Audience:
After looking inward at your interests, it is imperative that you also look outward at your audience to discover a place that your needs and interests as an author are met with the same enthusiasm from your readers. This can be done on any of your social media platforms, but explaining your rough idea(s) is a start.
After receiving some feedback, your list of concept ideas will decrease and you can get to the core of what you and your readers are craving in a new book. Not only does your audience serve as a yay or nay group in your particular genre, but they also serve as a second pair of eyes to see if your concepts are coherent and plausible.
For example, if you are writing a science fiction book about extra-terrestrials (an all too common topic in the genre), pay close attention to the unique areas that interest your readers and those that do not receive adoration (if your readers do not say anything). Don’t forget to take their suggestions seriously as your book is a service for them not just for you.
3. Compare Your Author Platform:
This is the portion of book writing that requests you to analyze your own career. This may be the most difficult part of the strengthening process, because it requires you to assess yourself in relation to other authors in your field.
Start by researching other authors with a related background who have written successful books. During this process, you should be able to find their social media numbers (likes, press interviews and mentions, public speaking events, radio appearances, and so on).
Next, write down everything you are doing to promote your brand. How do you measure up in comparison to other successful authors? This may be intimidating, but taking an honest look at where you are as an author and where you wish to be will help you structure your growth by highlighting the areas that you need to improve to reach a larger audience.
4. Go to a Bookstore
Block off a few hours in your schedule to go to a bookstore and see what's on the shelves. It may be helpful to bring a laptop or pad of paper too. While you stand in front of your preferred section (genre), ask yourself a few questions:
In general, what’s on the shelf?
What books are most interesting to me?
What books are being notably displayed?
Who published them?
What would I buy as a reader?
It would be helpful to check out the books on Amazon to see what their ratings and reviews are. What do the customers say about the books? Where are the books falling short of readers' expectations? Include these answers in a list to use while you write your book.
Do you recognize the authors? Do research on your laptop or phone to uncover who they are and how you compare to their platform.
Doing this can familiarize yourself with what books are being read and who's writing them. You can discover how you relate to the books and authors showcased on the shelves and decide how and what you can do to build your brand and book concept to reflect those authors' books that are already successful.
5. Balance Your Concept and Platform:
This is where everything that you have researched comes together to create your individual spot in the marketplace. Up until now, you have a better sense of what your readers are interested in, how your platform compares to other thriving authors, and what books are out there.
The tricky part is that if your author platform still needs work, the stronger your concept needs to be (to pull new readers in whether or not they’ve heard of you). Essentially, your concept is determined by the size of your platform.
For example, a book (or play) written today by J.K. Rowling (e.g. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) does not have to be too strong, because Rowling has already built up her readership, and regardless of how successful this eighth addition to her series is, it will be the most popular book of the year due to her continued popularity in the fantasy genre. If your platform is weak, a feeble book concept can stunt your growth as a writer, but a strong concept can expand your readership and push you further into the literary world.
6. Add Concept Value:
After you’ve decided on a general concept, it’s important to begin refining and reinforcing its strength.
What features can you add to make your book more enticing for your readers? How can you make it more unique and original from other books you have seen in the same genre?
This can range from aesthetics (specific styles of photos and illustrations) to special features (quizzes, quotes, sidebars, and so on) and to richer information (your research, research from third parties, comments from other experts in the genre, and so on).
We hope that these tips were helpful. If you have a book concept that you think is strong, don't hesitate to reach out to us!