Updated: Jul 28
Talk to most folks and they’ll tell you that they have a great idea for a book. To be fair, any good book starts with an idea. However, an idea isn’t enough. Sure, when Robert Kiosaki dreamed up his Rich Dad, Poor Dad book, it probably started as just a simple idea on how to teach people about money. But that, of course, isn’t enough for a book.
So how do you know you have enough information for a full book? Let’s take a look at how to transform a book idea into a published piece.
Do You Have the Information, Experience, and Knowledge to Write This Book?
Ideas come from all sorts of places. You might imagine writing a book about decorating your home or rebuilding a car. If you don’t have any experience or knowledge in either of those worlds, there will be a lot of extra work to do. That’s okay. It’s not the end of your book idea. However, it’s important to be realistic about your starting point. It may take more time and resources to create your ready-to-publish book.
What’s the Hook?
Why will people want to read your book? How is it different, interesting, and entertaining? What makes your information something that readers will value and want to buy? This may be the most difficult question to answer, because audiences are fickle. However, you need to have some idea before you start writing. If you’re not sure why it will be a good book, keep thinking about it until you know.
How Will You Write It?
A better way to ask this question is, how much planning will you do before you begin to write?
Here are some points to consider.
* Do you have the ideas solidly in your mind, so they remain consistent throughout?
* Do you know how your book will provide value?
* What is the USP or Unique Selling Point?
* What’s the goal for writing a book? What do you hope to achieve?
* Who is your audience and what information will they value?
Some writers know every detail before they sit down and begin to write their book. Others have a sketchy idea in their mind, or on paper, and they use that as a starting point. Some people write chapters as they come to them and then weave them together. Others create an elaborate outline and work from their storyboard or plan.
There’s no right or wrong way to approach your book idea. However, it is a good idea to think about how you want to approach it before you sit down to write. Don’t be surprised if you cannot see your entire book plan all at once. That’s okay. Plan what you can and go from there. Second drafts and revisions are where you’ll pull it all together. For now, start planning and begin writing. Don’t lose that great book idea!
What is Considered a Novel?
The numbers put forth here are averages based on research around the web. In my experience if you want a full fledge novel it should be over 60,000 words but less than 90,000 words. The only exception I find is science-fiction. In science-fiction you can get away with up to 150,000 words.
Short Story – 1,000 to 7,500 words
Novelette – 7,501 to 17,500 words
Novella – 17,501 to 40,000 words
Novel – 40,000 words or more
Keep in mind some genre’s novel word count is higher. For example, a contemporary novel (what I write) is 60,000 to 90,000 words. A detailed novel should have at least 60,000 words in it to make it worth reading.
Speaking of worth reading, the word count doesn’t interest a buyer. What a buyer looks for is page count. I once had a conversation with a person who told me why she didn’t buy a certain book. It was interesting because it shed some light on potential customers and the authors I advise and publish.
She told me she looked on Amazon for a book and the book was priced at or near the $13 mark. She liked the description of the book, so she looked at the page count and saw it had 75 pages. She decided not to buy because the page count didn’t justify the price.
Nonfiction Word Count
In the traditional publishing world, a nonfiction book should be between 50,000 and 70,000 words. Most publishers will not accept anything less or more. However, in the self-publishing world you have more flexibility. Therefore, keep in mind shoppers will be looking at how big your book is and base their decision to buy on that factor along with the cost, description and reviews.