Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

102: How to Know if You Have a Good Idea for a Book

Before you write a book, you need a good book idea. This sounds obvious, but deciding what you want to write about is a challenge.

You need to have an idea that excites you, is worth writing, and provides value for your readers. So how do you know if you have a book idea worth pursuing?

102: How to Know if You Have a Good Book Idea [Podcast]

After publishing four books, I’ve learned this is a tough question to answer. There are many factors that influence whether or not your idea is any good. But there are ways to remove the guesswork. The truth is you can know if people will read what you have to say before you even finish writing the manuscript.

This week on The Portfolio Life, Andy and I talk about how to decide if your book idea is worth pursuing and practical ways you can test your ideas to see if people are interested in what you have to say.

Listen in as we discuss how I discovered the idea for my next book. We also talk about how other authors decide what to write about and how you can get more confidence in your book idea before writing it.

Listen to the podcast

To listen to the show, click the player below (If you are reading this via email or RSS, please click here).

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Show highlights

In this episode, guest and I discuss:

  • How to decide what idea to pursue when you want to write a book
  • How I discovered the idea for my next book nearly two years ago
  • One simple technique you can use to know if you have a book idea worth pursuing
  • When you know you’re ready to pursue a book idea
  • The two steps you need to take to validate your book idea
  • Why you have to write and not only talk about your book idea
  • Why you can’t afford not to share your work in public
  • The importance of doing your best work even when you think no one is looking
  • How practicing in public can help you identify good ideas

Quotes and takeaways

  • Chase what fascinates you with your writing.
  • You can’t write a 60,000-word book if you haven’t written a few thousand words.
  • You know you have something when you can’t get to the end of it.
  • When I’m doing the work, I want to love the work.

Resources

Do you have a book idea? Have you shared your idea with others in person or online? Why or why not? Share in the comments

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • I have dozens of book ideas.
    Having written a dozen of short books I can testify that idea validation at the very beginning is a good sign.
    I had a couple of bestsellers out of the books I hadn’t shared with anybody, but I had more flops from such ventures.
    On the other hand, when the idea was validated even before writing, it was always a hit. I wrote my first book after being encouraged by a friend to share my personal mission statement creation process. Over 2,150 copies sold so far.
    I wrote another book, “The art of Persistence”, because three friends in three separate conversations asked me the same question: “how to stay consistent when you don’t feel like it?” Over 2,300 copies sold so far.

  • David Binder

    Hello Jeff and other authors, I am David Alan Binder; your books have captured my attention.

    I love interviewing authors (via email only) of published book(s); drop me a line and let’s talk at ab3ring@juno.com or dalanbinder@gmail.com. It is only about 20 questions or so long.

    My website is located at the following place;

    https://sites.google.com/site/dalanbinder

    I look forward to hearing from you. It is a simple process I email you questions and you return them with the answers.

    Here is a sample of an interview with Craig Johnson author of Longmire, books plus the A&E Network and Netflix series recently posted to my website:

    https://sites.google.com/site/dalanbinder/blog/0606-294post-craigjohnsoninterviewwithdavidalanbinder

    Let’s talk.

    David Alan Binder

    P.S. The fine print: By filling out the interview questions, you agree to the posting of the interview on my website.

    Join the Community: People I’ve interviewed are New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors, David A. Adler author of 250 books, Dandi Mackall author of 450 books (one is a Hallmark movie-My Boyfriend’s Dogs), UCLA Professor of screenwriting – Richard Walter, Bill Crider author of mystery fiction, Craig Johnson for the series Longmire, Robert Gatewood, authors of Children’s books, thrillers, poetry, historical novels, romance, non-fiction, self-publishers and those with over 20 famous publishing houses, an 11 year old author, Father Goose, Don Knotts’ brother-in-law, editors, two authors that have a TV special for Hallmark and Teachers, PHD’s, Lawyers, Doctors, Educators, and Professors, Self-Help gurus, writers for articles, journals, magazines and technical writers, all sorts and types of award winners, a singer, plus authors in the UK, Canada, India, Scotland and (34 states) USA (5 countries). Over 100 authors of collectively over 2100 books!

  • I listened to this, but didn’t quite catch the 2 steps to validate the book idea. I do have a theory that I’m going to try concerning validation. I have a small blog on leadership and church ministry. I’m a pastor. Here’s my plan. I have an outline for a short 3 part course, or perhaps, book. I’m thinking of giving away the first part for free (a very simplified version) when people subscribe to the blog, and see what kind of subscriber percentage rates I get. If I get a good percentage, I think that would be a solid way to validate the idea, and I could finish the other sections. If it validates well, I would really go all out with it and do videos, outlines, etc. If it doesn’t validate, then I know it’s not something people are fully interested in, and therefore, probably wouldn’t invest money in. So…..that’s what I’m thinking about at the moment. Thoughts?

  • This is great! Jeff, you often bring me such a clarity. thank you for your gift ! I want to know how you sustain writing a weekly post! it’s not about scheduling so much, but how to keep surfacing ideas to write about writing the way you do! My blog deals with so many more and I can’t keep at it!

  • Yeah, I’m a fan of book idea validation. Great interview!

  • marlie kohles

    This was a great interview and I know for a fact my idea for a book can become one now. My series the idea is based on is easily over 10 posts long and I still have at least 4 left i could write about and thinking about more I could write on. Thank you so much for clarifying how to know if my idea is worthy of a book! 🙂

  • Kate Jeffries

    Absolutely excellent, Jeff. I had thought I’d had a moment of brilliance (who doesn’t?) with an idea for a book, but after listening to this podcast, you gave me clarity. I think my idea might just be several blog posts, but they’ll be good posts. That’s the main thing. I think I was running before I could walk because I’m just so excited by all this new passion for writing!

  • V J Wynter

    I have been trying to write (alongside the day job) on and off for the last 10 years or so. My big problem has always been what to write about. Listening to this interview has got me back to basics. Just what I needed. Thanks.

  • Anita Adamski

    I see 5 books published on Amazon that match the topic* I am interested in, but I have a fresh/unique focus. There are 20 searches a month according to kwfinder.com. I wish there was a way to see kw searches on Amazon, because I think the kw search should be much higher then 20 a month.

    Regardless, is this considered “good” numbers to proceed with a book idea?

    * Book idea: I plan to co-edit a book that solves problems. My ideal reader is a person who enjoys Thoroughbreds and wants to find out more through personal stories. Perhaps searching to be educated to solve specific problems — or just to enjoy.

    I plan for each member of a Thoroughbred horse group I started to write about a problem they have had with their horse, what may have caused it, ideas on how they thought to solve or reduce it and the results of that action and how this affected them in everyday life going forward. And the emotions involved.