A good book idea is rare.
As much as you think all of your book ideas are fantastic and anyone would love to read them…you might be completely wrong.
And I’ll explain why shortly but first, if you want to skip ahead and discover if your book idea is indeed a great one, take this intuitive quiz that will tell you exactly how it fares against the competition.
What makes a good book?
A good book is a combination of high passion on your end, making your readers feel intensely along with a structure that toys with their emotions and an overall message worth sharing.
In order to come up with a good book idea, you have to understand what makes a book great and then work backward from there.
This might seem a little vague but in reality, this combination isn’t easy to come by.
A good book takes time, effort, and the right formula to get right. If you want to leave readers feeling stunned in the best way (and ready to give you those coveted 5-star reviews), it’s essential to first start with a great book idea.
Here are some of the top qualities that make a book good:
- It invokes high levels of emotion in the reader
- It has an overarching theme or message
- A strong, pleasant voice
- A structure that builds on itself
- Quality writing that’s enjoyable to read and visualize
Once you know what your book needs, it’s time to figure out what you should write about.
What should I write my book about?
When determining what you should write your book about, start with figuring out if you want to write fiction or nonfiction.
If you want to write nonfiction:
Fiction and nonfiction are basically two different worlds when it comes to writing.
You have to determine if you’re someone who wants to write fiction or nonfiction. This decision is typically simple to make because if you don’t have an interest in creating new worlds, realities, or making up characters, fiction is not for you.
On the other hand, if you love to write guides and how-tos and maybe even self-help related books, nonfiction is going to be a better fit for you.
If you want to write fiction:
You have to start by determining what kind of fiction you want to write.
Which genre will be your battlefield?
These are just the more popular fiction genres:
- Fantasy / Sci-fi
- Thriller / Horror
- Young Adult
In order to choose, pick the genre you enjoy reading the most. That means if you love fantasy and typically read that more than anything else, this will be the genre you’ll enjoy writing the most.
Once you know what you want to write, you have to learn how to come up with a good book idea in it.
Coming Up With a Good Book Idea for Both Nonfiction and Fiction
We’re going to separate these two simply because the process is so different. Coming up with fiction book ideas differs greatly from nonfiction because they cover much different information, key elements, and reader intent.
— How do I come up with a fiction idea for a book?
Fiction is amazing because you can come up with pretty much anything and it can be formed into a good book idea.
Let us help you break it down.
#1 – Use writing prompts to spark your creativity
If you have a hard time coming up with book ideas, then what you really need is something to prompt your mind into thinking creatively and imaginatively.
And that something is a writing prompt.
Writing prompts are very short ideas or story concepts for you to use in order to get started. Think of them as the catalyst for your imagination.
We actually have a list of over 200 original fiction writing prompts created for this specific purpose.
You can fill out the form below to download them! These prompts might contain the beginning of your next book idea.
#2 – Do some people watching
Head to a park or airport and just sit down to watch people. This might seem a little odd (or even a tad bit creepy) to you but it’s often a great way to get real-life writing prompts.
You may overhear a snippet of conversation or witness someone doing something interesting.
Take a notebook and jot down notes in order to flesh it out into a full story later. Consider it more like research for your novel.
#3 – Bounce ideas around with a friend
If you have a creative friend you love to chat books and book ideas with, just sit down and bounce ideas around with them.
Two minds are greater than one is most cases – including coming up with book ideas.
You can ask them to come up with a character and their background, and then you can give their life a reality with problems and a main conflict.
This alone can get you started on a book idea!
#4 – Play the “What If” game
This is my favorite way to come up with book ideas and it’s based on the concept of saying “what if…” and thinking up a crazy situation in this world or one of your own making.
Not only does this open your mind to otherworldly possibilities, but it’s also great practice for your imagination.
Here are a couple examples of how to play the “What If” game and how it can yield interesting book ideas.
|“What if” thought||Expanded on for book idea|
|What if…there’s already a cure for cancer.||The cure for cancer is kept hidden due to the large amount of money it generates for research.|
|What if…there are hidden civilizations living among us.||These hidden civilizations have advanced technology and medicine we know nothing about.|
|What if…the oceans are home to alien life.||Aliens are living among us…deep, below the ocean, with entire cities and civilizations.|
|What if…money became obsolete.||Money no longer has value and the world is thrust back into a world of trade, barter, and other means of getting what you want—dangerous means.|
#5 – Pick a different time period and think about issues that could arise
This specific technique is designed to free your mind from common problems in this time. Because it’s all you’ve known, your mind can try to come up with problems deserving of a book, but it’s a little difficult to make those seem interesting.
Instead, give your brain a shock by thinking of problems from another time period, whether that’s the past or the future.
You might have a book idea hiding in the past that you’ll never be able to see if you’re only looking in the present.
#6 – Use Pinterest to find interesting pictures
Then write a book about their reality.
One thing I like to do most often is type “character inspiration” into the Pinterest search bar.
Then, once the images load, I pick someone who stands out to me.
From there, I do some deep thinking about a world they could fit in, what it looks like, what the big problems are, and even go so far as to create a job and personality for that character.
You can do this very same thing with “fantasy world” or “sci-fi world” if you want to think up some books revolving around those ideas.
The results often give you images that can spark a small idea – which we can help you develop into a fully-fleshed story.
#7 – Make up a character you’d like in real life
From here, you’ll craft a story about their life in their own reality.
This exercise is perfect for coming up with a good book idea because generally, you want your protagonist to be a character people like.
And when you create a character you genuinely like and would be friends with, other people will feel the same.
While the story and plot have to be intriguing, the character is sometimes the biggest selling point. A book with great characters will stand out.
— How do I come up with a nonfiction idea for a book?
You’ll have to unleash your inner child.
Yes, I’m serious. Coming up with good book ideas involves a lot of creative thinking and suspension of disbelief.
Here’s how you can come up with great book ideas many will love to read.
#1 – Determine your passion
Writing a book without passion is useless.
Your distaste or worse, your indifference, will bleed through the pages and be obvious to anybody reading it.
If you want to come up with a book idea that not only other people will love, but that you will also love, it has to be something you’re passionate about.
The process of writing a book can take some time and a lot of dedication, rereading, and editing to get right.
It will only do well and be met with praise if it’s something you put a lot of passion into.
#2 – Think about what you know a lot about
What are a few topics you seem to know more than the average person about?
The reason you have to figure this out is that it will help you determine the best book idea for you to write.
Here are some questions you can ask in order to uncover what you’re knowledgeable about:
- What are people always asking you advice for?
- What are key concepts you find yourself repeating a lot?
- What do people tell you you have a lot of knowledge about?
- What are your “specialties” both at work and at home?
These questions will help you determine the common theme within the answers. Once you know what you have a strong knowledge of, you can narrow down your book ideas.
#3 – Brainstorm many main concepts
You don’t just have to limit yourself to what you know a lot about. Instead, brainstorm a very large number of main ideas.
These can be anything from your hobbies to your work expertise to even your view of the world and how it works.
Anything that comes to your mind and sparks your interest is worth writing down.
When you do this, you’ll typically find that there’s a main topic or overarching theme that sticks out the most. Usually, this is what you should write a book about.
#4 – List book concepts you’d want to read yourself
What are the nonfiction books you’re drawn to most? This will often give you insight into great book ideas for you to write yourself.
The reason for this is because if you wouldn’t read the book you’re writing, then you shouldn’t be writing it.
This technique works backward from your own interests in order to determine which book idea you should push forward.
#5 – Write down the things you daydream about
What do you most often find yourself spacing out about?
When your boss snaps to get your attention or when your partner has to wave a hand in front of your face to bring you back to reality, write down what you were just thinking about.
It can be anything.
Even if it’s just what you’re going to make for dinner, write it down because you want to get into this habit.
After a week, take a look at all those thoughts and you’ll usually find a pattern amongst them. That’s the book idea you should write about.
#6 – Start with a narrative about your day-to-day life
This is a very unique technique that can help you discover what’s important to you from a day-to-day perspective.
In order to do this, open a blank document and just start writing about your everyday life – but do this as if you were writing a story about yourself through narrative. Meaning, from a third person perspective.
Here’s an example of this book idea finding exercise:
Book Idea Exercise Example:
She was perched at her desk, the monotonous tap-tap-tap of the keys a familiar comfort amidst the silence of her lonesome. Leaning in, her eyes flitted across the screen, following the lead of each word she typed.
Start writing yours and your mind might just come up with a book idea for you to take to publication.
Other Methods for Coming Up With Book Ideas
Everyone is different and all of our minds work differently. And that means if you want to come up with a good book idea, you’ll have to try a number of different methods to determine what works best for you.
Here are some alternative methods for coming up with a book idea that aren’t listed above.
#1 – The snowball method
This is a technique that helps your ideas build on one another – much like a snowball builds on itself when you start rolling it through the snow.
How it’s Done:
How to do this book idea-generating exercise: This is done by writing down a broad concept first, like: Confidence. From there, you will list more specific but still general terms related to this, like:
– Gain more confidence
– Confidence and your mood
– Confidence in the workplace
-What affects confidence?
After you have these ideas, pick a single one to narrow down even more until you have a niche-specific book idea.
#2 – Your own twist on a heavily-searched topic
This is for you nonfiction writers out there. In order to find topics that are searched a lot, hop on Amazon, choose “Books” from the search bar drop-down, then click the search icon or hit enter (yes, without typing anything in the search field).
This will bring you to the generic “home page” for books. Scroll down a little bit and locate the left sidebar with the different categories like “Popular in Books,” “More in Books,” and more.
From here, choose “Top 20 Lists in Books” as seen below.
You can easily scroll through the different sections in order to get an idea for what’s the most popular.
Now, most of these will be fiction, as it’s the top-selling genre.
If you want to find nonfiction-specific top sellers, repeat the first two steps in order to go back to the books “homepage.”
Then scroll down until you find the “Books” category with specific genres beneath. You can click on the genre you have the most interest in, like “Self-Help” in the example below.
From here, scroll down until you find the “Bestsellers” section in which you can discover the hottest titles and topics they cover so you can shape your book idea based on what will sell, like in the image below.
#4 – Write down any and all ideas
Even if they’re tiny and you think they could never make a great book, write them down.
You never know what could blossom into sometime incredible. Maybe JK Rowling never thought an idea about a wizard in school would be interesting – and look what happened there!