By Angela Booth
Want to write an ebook? You can. Start with an idea, build on it, and before you know it, you’ve got a book. (I’ll be using ‘book’ and ‘ebook’ interchangeably in this article, because any idea you find for an electronic book will certainly work as a print book as well.)
Here are some ways to get ideas for books only YOU could write. Work through the following exercises.
Work through them quickly. Don’t allow yourself to bog down. Do them as quickly as you can, and then go and do something else for a few hours, to let the ideas gestate and bubble in your subconscious mind.
When you come back, read through the ideas you generated, and add to them as you read through your lists. PLEASE DON’T DISCARD ANY IDEAS AT THIS STAGE. This is because the way to a brilliant, fantastic NEW idea is by twisting an idea slightly, reversing it, or by combining several ideas into a new one. Don’t discard!
=> Ideas from: What you’re good at
Make a list of 20 things you’re good at. Don’t think too hard about this. Maybe you’re good at buying presents for people—you’ve got a knack for choosing just the right gift. Maybe you’re a good cook, or a good parent, or a good swimmer or a good tennis player. Or maybe you used to be good at one or more of these things.
=> Ideas from: Your past experiences
Experiences sell. If you’ve been abducted by little green men from Mars, it’s a book. If you’re a bigamist, it’s a book. People have written books about their illnesses (see Challenges below), their addictions, and their pets. Browse through the bestseller lists to see what personal experiences people are writing about.
Here’s where you walk down memory lane. If you’re in your twenties, it’ll be a short stroll. If you’re in your forties or older, it will be a hike. Don’t get bogged down with this, list 20 experiences you’ve had that spring to mind.
The easiest way to come up with experiences is work backwards through the stages of your life, or through decades. Again, don’t take a long time over this. Set yourself a time limit — ten minutes is enough.
=> Ideas from: Your knowledge
What do you know? Start by making a list of all the subjects you were good at in school. Then list all the jobs you’ve had – yes, part-time work counts.
* Your hobbies. Are you a keen Chihuahua breeder? Do you quilt? Take photographs?
* Your current job. What are you learning in your job that other people would pay to learn?
* The places you’ve lived. Your hometown may be boring to you, but guide books sell well.
* Your family tree. What special knowledge do your nearest and dearest have that you could write about?
Spend around ten minutes writing down as many subjects as you have knowledge about.
=> Ideas from: What you enjoy most
Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson freely admits that she cooks because she loves to eat. Nigella has turned her love of food into a career. She regularly produces bestselling books. (Her chocolate recipes are brilliant.) What do you love? People have written about garage sales, cosmetics, cars, vacations. If you love something, chances are that thousands or maybe millions of others will love it too.
Watch the newspapers and take note of current trends. Or better yet, listen to what your children are talking about, or asking you to buy for them. Children tend to be well up on what’s happening.
=> Ideas from: Challenges
You face challenges every day. Most are minor, some are major challenges. If you’ve ever faced a large challenge, or if you’re facing one right now, then consider that the things you learn could help other people. Whatever your challenge is, whether it’s moving house or confronting a life-threatening illness, other people face the same challenges, and in those challenges lie the seeds of books.
Make a list of 20 challenges you’ve faced in your life. Anything catastrophic qualifies: losing your job, facing bankruptcy, the betrayal of a spouse. If you’ve had a quiet life, then make a list of challenges that the people you know have faced.
See? Within an hour or so, you’ve got more ideas for books than you’ll be able to write in a dozen lifetimes. And these will all be books that only you could write, because they’re based on your knowledge and experiences.
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