I’ll start by saying this post relates to Nonfiction (vs. Fiction).
As our publishing industry has evolved and as social media has become a major influence how books get published, I have found myself often weighing in on new book ideas as either “blog-worthy” or “book-ready.” Upon starting my life as an agent, it wasn’t necesary to look at potential book projects in this manner. Yet it’s necessary in today’s publishing climate.
Why, you ask?
1. Because it can take anywhere from 1-2 years for a book to get published AFTER the book contract is signed. This doesn’t even include the time required to find an agent, to develop one’s writing platform, and/or to even start writing the book. Sometimes a book idea that appears “book-ready” today may not after 6 months have passed.
Ex: Books about 2012. Would an agent consider representing a book that would have an expiration date before it’s even published? No.
2. Some ideas aren’t necessary suited to be published in “book-ready” format. Maybe the topic has a limited scope, a limited audience, and/or there are already too many books (published along the same lines). Yes, there are a few writers who have broken this mold; but also remember they are a small percentage of the overall # of books published annually.
Ex: Eat Pray Love. I’ve mentioned this example multiple times on Twitter. Since Elizabeth Gilbert’s book shot to the top of the NY Times bestseller list and into a movie adaptation, it seems many aspiring writers want to write the “next” Eat Pray Love. (Btw, I read the book too and liked it very much.)
As a result, many queries have claimed to be the next Eat Pray Love. I’m sorry, but it seems Elizabeth Gilbert already covered this terrain quite well. The possibility of reaching the same level of success with a book JUST like hers doesn’t seem very viable. Hence, a book idea (along the same lines) may be better suited as a blog, at least for a short while.
3. Presenting a writing platform that still needs to be grown and/or expanded upon. When it comes to nonfiction, a strong writing platform is required of most authors. With any nonfiction idea, I’m studying not only the idea, but also if the writer is fully qualified to write this book. Are you an expert on the topic? Do you bring a large reading audience with the book idea? Do you have any previous publishing experience (online and/or in print)? If not, there’s a good chance that until the writing platform has grown, the idea is more “blog-worthy.”
Ex: Food and cooking ideas. Sometimes the best queries arrive in regard to food and cooking. I’ve seen a large # of cupcake, vegan, vegetarian, and and other superb ideas over the years. Unfortunately the writers usually have no public platform, no experience in online or print media, and more. Ultimately the ideas are great, but the writing platform is almost nonexistent. This would make the possible book idea(s) more blog-worthy. At least until these barriers are overcome.
Does your idea have any of these challenges? What do you do? My suggestion: Be strategic! Take a moment and look at the bigger picture of publishing – in regard to your book idea. Take the time to develop and execute ideas that will help move your book from “blog-worthy” to “book-ready,” before getting overly worried about approaching agents or editors.
What are your thoughts? Do you agree? Disagree? Let’s chat!