Ask the Editor: How To Choose a Topic for Your Book

Filed in Ask the Editor by on February 14, 2013 2 Comments

“I’ve decided to write a book this year.”

“Congratulations! What is your book about?”

Oh yeah, that part. Shuffle feet. Stare at feet. Clear throat. Stall. “Well, I have a few ideas…”

Xulon Press Editor | How to choose a topic for your bookIt’s a dilemma every writer faces: how do you choose what to write your book about? Particularly if you have more than one good idea? In the first article of the new Xulon “Ask the Editor” series, we’ve got some tips and tricks to help you get started!

First, do you truly have two (or more) different book subjects? Or are they intertwined? Often, I hear authors say, “I’ve got a few book ideas; I can’t decide. One is on the power of forgiveness and the other is on my secrets to living the happiest, fullest life possible!” Well friend, those could be two different books, but doesn’t it seem like learning to forgive would be a part of living the happiest, fullest life ever? Are your ideas truly two separate books, or are they simply different chapters within one book?

If you do have a few truly distinct ideas (say, an autobiography and a thrilling mystery novel) then your dilemma is simply which of these books to write first! Utilize a little trick from an outline which is popular amongst professional fiction writers: the snowflake method. Summarize the plot or premise of each book in one paragraph. Include the five biggest plot points, spiritual lessons or events from the book, but don’t give away the ending. For a mystery novel, it might read: “Abigail lived a quiet life, running her grandmother’s bakery in a sleepy North Carolina beach town—that is, until the day when she woke up to find her grandmother missing along with all of her secret recipes! As the search for her grandmother intensifies, Abigail finds herself rediscovering her faith, struggling to keep the shop open, and relying heavily on the comfort of an unexpected new friend. Join Abigail as she digs deep into her family history to solve The Mystery of Spotted Key!” Write each idea on an index card and tie them together; hand the copies out to a few friends who are avid readers (perhaps with a small bag of goodies attached?!) and ask them to tell you which book sounds the most appealing! For my techies, your personal Facebook page or blog will allow you to post polls so your friends can vote anonymously. Provide samples and let the feedback roll in!

Once you’ve selected your writing topic, get to work. Pick a time of day to write and stick with it. Don’t worry about making it perfect; no one writes a bestseller on their first try. In the meantime, make sure you stash the other book ideas away in a safe dresser drawer – their day will come too!

Don’t forget, next Monday we’ll be asking for your “Ask the Editor” questions to be submitted on Facebook at and Twitter at One lucky winner will see their question answered with a full article from a professional editor on Thursday, February 22, so be sure to submit your questions!

Oh, and Happy Valentine’s Day!


About the Author ()

Brittnee Newman, Marketing & Communications Strategist for Xulon Press, has been a blogger, freelance journalist and editor for just over half a decade. She joined Xulon Press as an editor in 2012, and now supports the company within the Marketing Department. Follow her on Twitter at @XulonBrittnee.

Comments (2)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. avatar Matt Soteros says:


    Excellent article! well written. Keep writing, your article is making me want to read more 🙂

    Your Friend, Matt Soteros

  2. I apologize for not seeing this comment sooner, Matt! Thanks for reading!

    We’ve posted another one today, you can check it out at Now go ahead and get to work on that best-selling book! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *