Home » A fantastic idea is the key to a successful book.

A fantastic idea is the key to a successful book.

by Nathan Zachary

What is the key to producing a fantastic book? Is it having a fantastic book promotion strategy? Employing a PR firm? Spending years studying grammar to compose the ideal sentence? Nope. Creating a fantastic idea is the key to creating a great book.

There are three stages in developing a novel concept:

  1. Obtaining the concept
  2. Communicating the notion
  3. Verifying the concept

Let’s explore each of them in that order.

Obtaining the concept.

A good novel begins with an excellent concept. And a great novel begins with an excellent concept. Usually, a terrible book is bad because the idea behind it was not particularly excellent or because the idea wasn’t performed well. I’ve already written about this topic, but I wanted to delve deeper here.

A good idea begins with a terrible one. This is how every idea begins. Every serious and successful author I know began with what they believed to be a wonderful idea, only to learn it was subpar.

  • Frequently, in creative labor, we see ideas as possibilities rather than as the actual thing. This means that we view it in terms of its potential rather than its current state. It’s similar to parenting in the sense that we recognize our child as more than what she does in the moment (such as slapping her sibling in the face, as my two-year-old recently did).
  • This is frequently the case with writers and their thoughts. We have a quick surge of insight — for me, it’s usually a single word or phrase — and a surge of energy and emotion. We feel compelled to dash back home or get out of the shower to jot it down before we lose it forever.
  • I’ve also seen that many brilliant authors do not believe they are the creators of their ideas, and therefore do not own them.
  • Ruth Stone stated that her poetry used to fly at her across the prairie, and she had to sprint to grab them before they escaped. Frank Baum claimed he discovered the mystical kingdom of Oz, as opposed to merely creating it.
  • Elizabeth Gilbert discusses this in her book Big Magic, offering tales of authors who did not write down an idea that came to them, only to have another author write about it without their awareness (or maybe, in fact, it had to pass through many writers before it came to be).
  • Whether you believe ideation is a mystical experience or not, there is a sense in all creative work that our responsibility when we have a brilliant idea (from wherever it comes) is to first capture it and then care for it, nurturing it to become what it should be.

If I had to describe this as a process, I would say that the idea comes to you first. You are not responsible for creating the idea or bringing it into existence. It is simply making oneself accessible to all thoughts. I offer some strategies for achieving this:

Create a consistent writing routine. In essence, a routine is just a daily practice of writing in the same place, at the same time, and for roughly the same amount of time.

Have a method for recording ideas. My “3-bucket system” is a simple way for recording ideas, writing about them, and modifying them daily so that I don’t miss any great ones.

Create a routine of reflection and silence.

This is admittedly tricky in our hyper-connected society, and much more so if you are a parent. Yet, every time I walk out into nature, sit quietly with a cup of coffee in the morning, or simply pause to observe my surroundings, I am reminded of how much I need the quiet. I am always terrified of it and so intent on doing something that simply “being” seems worthless. However, I am never bored during these periods of solitude, and they always result in an outburst of energy and creativity. Always, creation arises from nothing. This is how it operates. Even the major religions typically teach this. We must traverse the abyss to discover the substance of all things.

So, you understand the concept. You catch numerous concepts. And once that is accomplished, you go to the following step.

Communicating the notion

It is not sufficient to have an idea or to even capture it. You must also know how to communicate about it. This constitutes marketing. Before you produce your book, you must understand how to sell it. And to know how to sell it, you must understand how to discuss it.

Before developing a product, it is usual practice in marketing to compose a sales letter. The objective is to determine if anything can be sold prior to its creation. This is also known as product validation or pre-selling.

Tim Ferriss accomplished this infamously by purchasing Google advertisements for his new book and trying several titles to determine which would be successful. He essentially advertised a bogus product to determine which titles would garner more clicks. The only thing that remained was the title The 4-Hour Work Week. After selling millions of copies, it was a wise decision.

“Before you ever create your book you need to know how to sell it.”

Before you can sell the book, you must know how to discuss it. Thus, compose a sales letter. How does that function?

Start with the assurance.

Which issue will this book address? How will it benefit the reader?

Develop empathy.

What ache would this book alleviate? You begin with the remedy and then transition into the emotional language of the problem people are experiencing. Don’t be hesitant to ask random individuals about their issues with whatever you’re writing about at this point.


The true function of the book. How long does it last? What is the structure or plot? Exists an argument. Tell us more about this.


why this is specifically for us. Who is intended?

Finally, sell.

Give us an irresistible reason to purchase now. One author gave me a terrific method to consider this: “Imagine your reader waking up the day after reading your work; what is different for her?” My buddy Hal Elrod, who has sold a million copies of a self-published book, claims that this is the secret to success: write a book that gives the reader the chance to alter their lives overnight. In his reader’s situation, she began waking up early. This is a noticeable difference that others may observe instantly. Include that in this section.

That’s how you make a sale. This is how your pre-sell something. Simply go ahead and sell it. And if you can convince people to buy it, you know it’s something worth pursuing.

The purpose of this entire procedure is to understand how to validate an idea.

Verifying the concept

How do you recognize a brilliant idea?

Simple. You test it. This is how you can determine whether or not a concept is good. With numerous persons. Over time. You must be both patient and persistent when pursuing a novel concept. It cannot rely solely on feeling. You must be convinced that this is worth people’s time. You must be informed. And the only way to know for sure is to obtain a response.

You must share this with others and hear what they have to say. Are the shifted? Whether so, how? The worst action a reader can do is to do nothing. To express nothing more than “That was nice.” You desire a visceral response. If they enjoy it, that’s wonderful. If they hate, that’s okay too. You seek something so compelling that it moves individuals.

It is true that there are no such thing as bad public relations. The worst possible outcome is for people to ignore your concept, agree passively with it, and then forget about it.

We are attempting to evoke feeling. This is how you affect people’s lives: by gaining access to their decision-making hub. Not the intellect, but the heart.

Once you have completed articulating the idea and worked out how to discuss it, you must now validate it. It must be tested. Here’s what I suggest: Go communicate with ten individuals by email, the telephone, or even better, in person. Share your concept with them and observe their response. You may say something like, “Here’s something I’ve been working on. Can you tell me your opinion?

Avoid asking them yes-or-no questions. You want them to immediately begin speaking and share their reactions. If people adore you, they will likely speak well about you. That’s all well and good, but you need their assistance in determining whether or not this is an excellent concept.

You realize you have a good concept…

  • When people ask imprecise inquiries that don’t assist them better comprehend what you do, you should clarify.
  • When individuals say “okay…”
  • When no one says anything, when people keep asking you to explain something and it’s still not making sense, etc.

You realize you have a brilliant idea…

  • When people exclaim “That’s wonderful!” instantly.
  • When they inquire further to learn more about it
  • When that’s all you want to discuss, you can’t avoid writing about it.

The distinction between good and poor ideas is that good ideas persist. Bad ideas don’t.

A truly excellent concept may withstand the test of time and endure the scrutiny and disgrace of rejection until it is eventually accepted.

Method of imitation

The final difficulty here is to provide you with some applicable information. This is likely the most practical action a writer can do. When attempting to come up with a brilliant concept, simply steal someone else’s.

This is known as the Copycat Strategy. Everyone does it, but nobody will confess it.

Here is how it operates:

Choose a concept or theme that has already appeared in a best-selling book. This can include works of fiction, nonfiction, memoirs, etc.

Change the idea in some way. Modify the plot, alter the protagonist’s gender, and alter the setting. Do something novel and distinctive to capture the reader’s interest.

Combine the original theme with the new twist and share it using the following phrase: “It’s like X, but…” Another way of characterizing The Hunger Games is, “It’s like Gladiator, but with youths in the future.

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