Note To Authors: Your Idea Is Not Special

Brad FieldThis blog post is a parody/twist of Brad Feld‘s latest “Note to entrepreneurs: Your idea is not special“. I have rewritten his post as if he were a publisher or editor and talking about books:

Every day I get numerous emails from authors and author-wannabees describing their latest book.

Often these people think their idea is brand new…that no one has ever thought of it before. Other times they ask me to sign a non-disclosure agreement to protect their book idea. Occasionally the emails mysteriously allude to the book idea without really saying what it’s about.

These authors think their idea is special and magic. And they are wrong.

The great authors are already focused on the excellent writing and promotion of their book. They send me links to their website and excerpts. They describe the promotions they are in the process of creating (or have already created). They point me to what they’ve done to promote their book and show real fans who validate that the book is excellent.

King Arthur? Not the first book about him. The guy gets the girl? Not the first romance. A book about growing up? It’s been done. Another world similar to but different from our own? That’s old. The list goes on.

The books and their subsequent series became great because of execution. First, they had to execute on writing a great book. Next, they had to execute on building a great way of promoting that book. Finally, they had to execute on extending, sustaining, and growing a great brand for the author.

Rinse and repeat, over and over again.

It’s awesome when an author is obsessed with his book idea. Every great book that I’m aware of came from an obsession with a book idea. But for every author that shifted the obsession with the book idea into an obsession with the execution of the book idea, I know many more authors who got stuck on the book idea, but never focused on building something from it.

Sure, they tried, but they didn’t obsess about it, pour all their energy into it, and most importantly get as many great people as they could on the journey with them.

I’m constantly looking for great authors who have amazing ideas. But I don’t value the ideas. I value the author’s execution of the ideas.

The point is that you, the author, can come up with bazillions of ideas for books—but it is ultimately the excellence of your writing and promotion that will win the day.

And for me this is encouraging, because King Arthur and Merlin have been written about so-so-so many times before. It can be done again.

Thanks, Brad!

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2 thoughts on “Note To Authors: Your Idea Is Not Special

  • Good points! I’ve heard this before and I agree–it’s how it’s accomplished that matters. That being said, I also think that a good idea is important as well, but still. And yes, as an author I DO come up with bazillions of ideas for books! :D Probably why I’ve got eighteen novels in the works . . . :)

    Best,
    D. S. Dahnim

  • You are definitely right that the idea MUST BE GOOD because that is what will get the initial attention of an agent / editor. But they quickly move on to the writing itself, and if that doesn’t stack up, then it goes quickly to the recycle bin.

    You have eighteen novels in the works? WOW! Keep writing!

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