Tuesday, February 22, 2011

How do you decide if an idea is good?

Tonya asks, "How do you decide if an idea is good enough to work on as a book?"


Don’t you hate that annoying guy who answers questions by asking questions?

Today I’m that guy.

Here are some thoughts to help you decide if your book is worth writing:

1) Does the story grip you? Because if it doesn’t grip you, it isn’t going to grip an agent or editor.

However, just because you love the idea doesn’t mean the publishers will. Which leads us to ask:

2) Is there a felt-need for your book? If the manuscript will be non-fiction, is there a big enough market to justify the money a publishing house would have to invest? (I.e., are enough people really going to buy the book Growing Polynesian Water Bugs in Your Refrigerator?)

If the book is fiction, what genre is it? Where would it rest on the shelf (or hopefully fly off of it)? Is that genre selling books or has it been dead since that French poet in 1909?

3) Will you spontaneously combust if you don’t write this book? Because even though I like a good fireworks show every now and then, I like passionate writers even more.

Sometimes your idea doesn’t have to make sense. Sometimes other people will think the concept is crappy. Sometimes you will just need to write the book for you. And there’s nothing wrong with that… as long as you know that’s why you’re doing it.

So, Ladies – whaddya say? How do you know when your ideas are worth considering?


BJ Hamrick is the editor of Real Teen Faith.


  1. I agree with the concept of passion. If the story isn't bursting to get out of you, then why bother? Don't write for the market, don't write for what's hot now unless your story fits into it already. The best thing a new author can do is write the story of their heart. The level of emotion and passion that will go into it is going to show up when the editor or agent reads it.

    If you've already written the story of your heart and are on book two, then still try to find something you know or are interested in to write about. If you don't care, no one else will :)

  2. Thanks BJ! I can't help but wonder if your last point of loving it & writing for yourself is the most important?!
    You could have the best idea ever but if you arent in love with it you won't want to work on it or do your best on it

  3. What about if you lose interest? I started something last year and was really really excited about it. I worked on it all the time and loved it. But now, I can't get into it. I feel like my idea is kinda cheesy and I don't like the way I'm writing it, but you can't really change styles half way through. I want to keep pushing through because I've never a book before and even if this never gets published I want to finish it. It isn't my type of book but I needed something to work on while doing research for something that really gets me excited.

    So, back to my original question, what to do when you lose interest??

  4. Great post!

    P.S. You are SO cute... :)

  5. Courtney, I'm all for finishing what you start but when it comes to a book, finishing something you don't even like or care about is truly a waste of time. You're settling, you're not going to give it your best because you aren't interested, and therefore, as we've all said before - no one else will be interested either. Scrap it, chalk it up to experience, and start a story that excites you and makes you happy and eager to sit down and work on it! :)