This morning I had an idea for a new book. This will be number 53 on my list of books I’d like to write. It’s a red-hot idea though, so it will likely be bumped up to number three or four. I already have proposals for the top two or three ideas. This one will need a proposal too. I’ll need to work on it while the idea is still “red hot” in my imagination.
I hope you’re all keeping some sort of project list on your desktop with your ideas for books. Since so few books we want to write will ever see the light of day, we need to keep feeding ideas to our “Books I Want to Write” project list.
Writers who allow themselves to become an idea factory have a huge advantage in becoming published over those who have one, two, or three ideas for books. Never mind that you probably won’t get to write all the books on your list. I’ll be happy if I’m able to write and publish 5-10 of my 53 ideas.
If you already have such a list, maybe it’s time to review it. The books near the top of the list should be those that a). you’re most passionate about (i.e. “red hot”) and b). for which you see a need in the marketplace. The combination of a marketable idea and your personal passion is practically unbeatable. Woe to authors who have great ideas about which no one is interested.
That’s why my “project list” as I call it, is a Word document that can easily be adjusted. It’s not at all unusual for me to bump idea number 46 up to number 5 when either my passion for the book intensifies or something happens in the marketplace that gives me hope that now is the time for that book proposal to make the rounds of publishing houses.
There’s one problem with a diverse project list such as mine—and perhaps yours. It’s true that most publishers are into “branding” authors in certain genres. Basically, it seems they want writers to find a niche in the market and continue to write in that niche for the rest of their lives. Some writers like branding. I don’t like it, even though I recognize its value.
Let me give you a peek at my list and you’ll see what I mean. You’ll also see that I allow crazy ideas on my list with the hopes that same day “crazy” may suddenly become popular with readers.
I’ll start by mentioning number five: Moonlight on Broken Glass: Essential Thoughts on Creating Great Fiction. To no one’s surprise, I like writing about…well, writing. The title comes from a Chekov quote “Don’t tell me the moon is shining: show me the glint of light on broken glass.” The proposal has been complete for a couple of years. No interest from publishers.
Number 8 is a novel about four guys who become accountability partners and the interweaving of their lives that follows. Working title is Iron Sharpens Iron. That will need to change though.
Number 12 is Raising Them Right: 101 Tips for Bringing Up Conservative Kids in a Liberal World. That book is currently on hold as I try to determine if that’s really a direction I want to go.
Number 14 is We’ll Meet in San Francisco. This is a “reunion” novel.
Number 17 is (yes, this is one of the crazy ones) Amish Kittens Run Wild!
Number 27: 101 Things Every Teen Needs to Know for a Happy Life
One title I love, but can find no interest in is God Walks Among the Broken-Hearted. This is a book for broken Christians. (Have I told you that TWO publishers rejected this because they didn’t “see a market for broken Christians.” Yikes).
That, again, makes my point. Finding a publisher for the ideas you consider “red hot” isn’t as easy as you’d think. Most of you know that.
On my project list there are books that are novels, children’s picture books, children’s chapter books, Young Adult books, gift books, “how-to” books, writing books, devotionals, and more….much more.
Obviously this makes me hard to “brand.” But let me hasten to add that if a book of mine takes off wildly (as I always hope they do), I will certainly allow myself to write to that market again and if branding happens to me, I’ll assume that’s the direction God’s leading me.
By the way, I do have a verbal commitment from a publisher for the number one book on my list. Once I have the contract, I’ll let you know so you can advance order a copy. 🙂
Now, how about your own project list? You certainly don’t need to be diverse if your writing interests are narrow. But, say, if you write fiction, I’d think you’d want at least ten possible novels you could write, perhaps (but not necessarily) in different genres.
The point is to have several irons in the fire. Be as versatile as possibe.