Before you go writing pages or chapters of writing, let’s make sure you choose the right book idea! It can save you time, create a much  more rewarding experience and be much more fun than starting on the wrong book and abandoning or rejiggering the project down the road.

There are a number of things you can do to choose your project but the first thing is to get clear about why you’re writing your book. Then, use the tips below to get clarity.

How to Choose a Book Idea

How can you tell if you’re writing the right book? What do you look for?

  1. Your book concept should match your vision: Look at your vision or mission statement for your book. Would this particular book help you bring that vision to fruition?
  2. Make sure you have the right audience: Are these the people you want to reach, that you feel called to work with?
  3. Your book should be marketable, if one of your goals is to sell a good deal of books or get traditionally published: If those aren’t your goals, then marketability may not be as much of an issue.
  4. Your book should feel fresh in some way: Do you share new research? Offer a fresh angle on a topic? Address an under-served market? Have a distinctive voice or unusual stories? Any of these can make a book fresh.
  5. Does thinking about this book fill you with passion? You want to feel excited about your book.
  6. Can you see yourself excited about this book a year from now? Two Years? Writing the book will take time. And once it’s published you’ll be promoting it. Ask yourself whether this topic will hold your interest long term.
  7. How easy is this book to write? You don’t have to write the easiest of your book ideas, but do take it into consideration. Cutting your teeth on the easy book, the one that stems from what you know rather than crazy amounts of research, may just be the way to get it done and prepare yourself to write book number two!

The Right Book May Be the Most Obvious Choice

Time and again I see authors stuck on writing the hardest book they can think of, but not necessarily the one that makes their heart sing or will meet the goals and vision they have for their book in the world.

The easy book is often the obvious choice—not just because it’s easy (although there is something to cutting your teeth, so to speak, on easy, the first time around). The easy book may well be the one that helps you grow a business, showcases your authority in your field, or is most needed right now. 

Plus, you’ll learn so much on the first book that makes a harder book easier to write as well.

So, why would you choose the wrong book to start with? Sometimes we overlook our strengths and knowledge base. “If I know this, everyone must know it. It must be obvious.” Or, “I know this stuff. I’m bored of it.”

Sometimes writers worry that if we write about what we know intimately, we won’t learn anything new. The difficult, time consuming book may take research and time and tons of sorting out, but there’s a part of us that likes the idea of a challenge.

The book that stems completely from our experiences, knowledge base and skills, well, that may feel a little old hat.

And, sometimes we just haven’t taken time to get clear on why we’re writing the book in the first place. Start there. Consider your goals and vision, and see whether the easy book makes the most sense to write–or not.  

Just don’t overlook the book idea that seems easy, or obvious, or old hat. It just may be that by choosing that one, you’re writing the right book, after all!

By the way, I recently updated my post on How to Write a Great Book, which may be the perfect follow up for how to choose a book idea!

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  • Lisa Tener, Book Coach

    Award Winning Book Writing and Publishing Coach, Creativity Catalyst

    An authority on book writing, publishing and creativity, Lisa Tener guides experts, entrepreneurs and visionaries to joyfully write and publish their books. Lisa has been quoted in the New York Times, interviewed on ABC World News, serves on the faculty of Harvard Medical School’s publishing course, and teaches Award Winning Book Writing Courses. Lisa developed "The TENER Method for Creative Flow" and has won 7 prestigious business awards, including the Silver Stevie Award for Coach/Mentor of the Year. Lisa Tener's clients have received 5- and 6-figure book deals from a large variety of publishers from Random House and Hachette to niche and university publishers. Her clients' books have been featured by Oprah, on NPR, the Today Show, Good Morning America and all over the national media, including the New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Women's Health, Forbes and much more.