How to Choose the Best Topic for Your First BookApr 21, 2021
What should I write about? Do you struggle with answering this question? You’re not alone. Many writers know they want to become published authors but have difficulty choosing the topic for their first book. I’m going to share with you how to find your topic, how to pick a genre, and how to write a one-liner to describe your book.
Choosing Your Topic
Before you start writing, ask yourself:
- What life experiences could you share with others?
- What are you passionate about?
- What creative story could you tell?
Your answers can help pinpoint the topic of your book. Even if you already know your topic, you’re one step ahead of the game, and this article might help you further focus your efforts.
Life Experiences: The challenges you’ve faced, successes you’ve had, or lessons you’ve learned might make great stories. Many authors choose to write memoirs for their first books. Your life experiences might provide stories that people would find interesting. Your first book could focus on your family history, an issue you’ve overcome, or funny events you’ve experienced.
Passions and Interests: Do you have a passion for cooking, or could you share tips for being an effective salesperson? Perhaps you’re a teacher and want to write a book about the subject you teach. Maybe you love traveling and want to give advice to others seeking interesting destinations to visit. Do you have a favorite hobby that others might be interested in, or are you an activist for something? Subjects you have knowledge of can make great topics for first books. Consider writing about a subject you know well so you can share your knowledge with others.
Creative Stories: Where does your imagination take you? Maybe it’s a hot romance or an alien world. Perhaps there’s a children’s story or a magical fantasy brewing in your mind. Take note of what you enjoy watching on TV and what books you enjoy reading. That might inform the topic for your first book. Who knows, you might be writing the next whodunit mystery or a gruesome horror story.
Picking a Genre
Looking back on the topic you chose, what genre does it fall into? Is it nonfiction, fiction, poetry, or other?
If you’re thinking about real life, your genre is nonfiction. Perhaps it’s a memoir, an instructional book, or a travel guide. Biographies and self-help books are the most popular nonfiction genres. You could write about business, money, crafts, hobbies, travel, or spirituality. There are many other nonfiction categories, so think about which one is most suited to the topic you want to write about. Let’s say you’re writing a memoir. That would be listed under nonfiction, biographies, and memoirs.
If you want to write fiction, the most popular genres are romance, mystery, fantasy, thrillers, and children’s books. There are even subcategories under those. For example, romance is a wide category. People who read romance novels might want an adventure romance, a historical romance, or a futuristic romance. Make sure your book is classified in such a way that readers can find it.
Go online to get a more detailed list of genres and to find the type of book you might want to write. Amazon and Goodreads are two sites I recommend to help you identify the specific genre, category, and subcategory for your book. Many people shop for their books by going to Amazon and clicking on Shop by Category, so selecting the most relevant genre and category will help readers find your book.
Goodreads is another popular site where people are finding their favorite reads. Books are listed by fiction and nonfiction, with a long list of related categories. Take fantasy for instance. You can find everything from paranormal to fairy tales to unicorns, so you can see how important it is to pick the specific category and subcategory for your book. Browse through these genres and categories on Amazon and Goodreads and see if you can find a genre that fits with the type of book you want to write.
Once you have your topic, it’s important to identify your specific audience. Is your readership narrow or broad? What genres and categories do your ideal readers enjoy? If you understand who your target audience is, you can tailor your book’s subject matter to meet their needs. You can also ensure you select the best genres and categories so your readers can find your book.
To focus your efforts as your write your book, I recommend you create a one-line summary. Include the topic, a description of your target reader, and what they will get from reading your book. Here are examples of one-liners for books my students have written:
- My book is a nonfiction leadership book for first-time managers who want to learn how to build effective teams.
- My book is my nonfiction memoir for my children and grandchildren who might want to learn about our family history.
- My book is a fictional romance novel for people who enjoy reading love stories that involve royal families in the middle ages.
- My book is a collection of poems for people who appreciate nature and enjoy uplifting, descriptive poetry.
Think of your reader as your client. Why would they want to read your book? Would they learn something or find satisfaction in your topic?
For example, you might be writing your memoir which include stories of how you overcame cancer. Someone going through a similar situation might be interested in a book on that topic. Your one-liner? “My book is my nonfiction memoir for people who are fighting cancer, feeling distraught, and seeking encouragement.”
There are three secrets I want to share with you when it comes to picking a specific topic for your book:
- Clarifying your topic early will speed up your writing process.
- Selecting the right genre, category, and subcategory will help readers find your book.
- Summarizing your topic into a one-liner will help you write a book that will benefit your readers.
Now that you have a clearer understanding of genres, categories, and one-liners, make sure you summarize your book using the following questions:
- Topic: What is your book about?
- Genre: Is it nonfiction, fiction, poetry, or other?
- Category & Subcategory: In which categories within your genre will readers find your book?
- Target Audience: Who will be most interested in your book?
- Benefit: What will your readers get from reading your book?
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