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So many ideas, but who will write them?

I am constantly thinking of ideas for books.  I read two or three newspapers a day, blogs, online publications, and several magazines weekly.  There are fresh and original concepts everywhere.  The problem, though, is who will turn these ideas into a book.

In fact finding a writer for many of our ideas is extremely difficult.  We start, of course, by talking to our own clients and, surprisingly, most of the time they turn us down.  They simply don’t see the idea as being material for a book, as we do.  Then, we go beyond our client list and ask our contacts if they know qualified writers (we mostly come up with non-fiction ideas as fiction is such a personal creative process) who might be interested.  Again, it’s hard to find any takers.

One would think that because we have all of these years of experience selling books it would be easier to find people who would be interested in taking our suggestions more seriously.  But, you would be wrong.  Most of the time writers want to come up with their own ideas.  It takes a long time to develop a book project and so rather than adopting one of mine, their ideas are “owned” by them.  I get that.

Still, though, I think many of my ideas and those of my colleagues (we actually have an ideas meeting every two weeks) are very worthwhile.  And so I thought I would throw out a couple here and see if there are any “takers.”  I would love to hear from you if there are.

The first idea is about the New York City Opera which collapsed last year.  This would be both a human interest story (there are some very colorful people involved) and a business story (the fate of this organization resulted from colossal mismanagement).  I have spoken to a number of writers about a book about its rise and fall but all have dropped out after considering it for a short time.

Then, there is a book about Friendship (with a capital “F”) modeled after Gail Sheehy’s Passages.  I believe that we go through many stages of who our friends are – they and we are different (sometimes sadly so) through the many cycles of our lives and I would love to explore how and why this evolution occurs.

So let me know if any of you want to pursue one of these or have any thoughts or opinions about  why this process can be so difficult.

12 Responses to So many ideas, but who will write them?

  1. Katie Newingham says:

    I’d climb Mt. Everest for an opportunity to write a book about the seasons of friendship. The rise and fall of the opera sounds interesting as well; however, my only experience with the opera comes from Bel Canto and Pretty Woman.

  2. I think (as with most art) writers want to write the stories that their hearts tell them to. If someone hands them a story idea, amazing and unique as it may be, it somehow feels a little cheapened because it isn’t their own heart telling them to write that book, if that makes sense. I’ve felt that way before, though I think I’m also learning to see my writing as a business and as I grow as a writer, it’s becoming easier to step outside of my own heart and mind and see all of the story ideas out in the world and finding ways to tell them.

  3. Lynn says:

    IMHO, Jane, a musician can compose a song for someone in a day or even an hour. An artist can do a painting for someone in a month or a week or even a day. They may not be inspired, but they’ll do it if it helps pay the bills. Then they can compose or paint what does inspire them, and why not?

    Writing is different. Writers write what they’re passionate about. You have to be in order to spend the time necessary to write a book. As you well know, months and years go into it. For someone to dedicate that time to an idea that doesn’t come from a need to write it, I can understand why you’re having trouble finding someone.

    That said, I love your Friendship idea. I was talking about this very thing last night! A week ago, my niece graduated from high school and I told her during her final month of school: Hug your friends, laugh, cry with them. These are bittersweet days that you’ll remember always. Many of these friends you may never see again. That’s how life is. But don’t be sad, you’ll make new ones and you’ll carry the memories of the old ones with you….

    I didn’t tell her: You go your separate ways and life does change. You may see that old friend again years later, but it’s like a different person, a different lifetime, a different you. It’s a strange feeling. And, yes, it is sad.

    My WIP touches upon this as well, but with young love and then meeting again years later. I hope you find someone to write the two ideas you mentioned. They’re worth pursuing and I would definitely buy the books.

  4. Joelle says:

    I LOVE hearing ideas from other people. It’s true that you might say to me the rise and fall of the opera would make a great nonfiction title, but I immediately started thinking about how to make it into a novel.

    I carry ideas for years. My last book was part of an idea I’d had for twenty years. The book I’m working on now has been around for a couple of years. So while I might not jump on your idea right away, I’d love to hear some of them! Perhaps since I’m a client, I can get on some list?

    I’m even open to nonfiction ideas…. Why not? Creative nonfiction is very appealing in so many ways. Of course, for your nonfiction ideas, you probably need someone with platform.

    I don’t read the paper or listen to the news, it’s part of my spiritual self preservation, so I’m always up for interesting stories that I’ve undoubtedly missed!

  5. Jenna says:

    Joelle actually took the words out of my mouth re: platform. I would love to write a book about the cycles of Friendship but not sure what would make me an authority on the topic, other than the many personal experiences I have. I have some pages I started years ago for a book about “breaking up” with friends – something that is totally commonplace in romantic relationships, but seems so much more difficult in platonic ones. Maybe a more encompassing study of the evolution is a better way to go. Hmmm, something to ponder…

    • Anonymous says:

      I do think credentials are important to do this idea (as opposed to platform. I am thinking journalist, sociologist, anthropologist — some one like that.

  6. Katie Newingham says:

    What about someone with a social work and journalism background?

  7. Katie Newingham says:

    Had to try 😉 Hope you find the right person.

  8. Gus says:

    It would be cool to know more details about the people
    involved with the Opera House…what did they want? Who
    might have burned it down? Is it being rebuilt? Was
    it of historical value? And the biggest question: what the
    person with the idea wants to do with the project. I can’t
    promise anything without those details but it sounds interesting.
    email me if you want to share more.

  9. D. C. DaCosta says:

    My first reaction was, why don’t you ask US to write them? Depending on the idea, I’m sure you’ll find folks here who’d love the burden of invention being carried by someone else.

    My second reaction was, New York City Opera is not a story to be written now, but ten to fifteen years from now. An identifiable, recent event is, IMHO, a libel suit waiting to happen.

    My third reaction is, how about a contest? Offer three ideas, give a word limit and a deadline. You could receive a lot of junk, of course, but you might find a masterpiece.

    What a great assignment for one of your interns!

  10. Alison says:

    Three things fascinate me in your idea for a book on friendship. First, is the potential to explore our evolving needs for different kinds of support as our life focus changes over the human life cycle. From romantic advice to sharing activities with other parents, from career de-briefing, to dealing with aging elders, we turn to our friends for mutual support, and that is crucial to well-being. As friends age and friendships mature, we also carry a body of wisdom for each other. Recently, when a friend was facing a hospice situation in her family, another friend shared his insights– and I swear they should be a primer for everybody. I felt so grateful to witness this exchange.

    The other thing is that the medium for friendship has been altered for everyone and especially for different generations due to social media, texting, selfies and all the rest of it. Looking back, can you imagine at the age of seventeen taking pictures of yourself and your ten best buds sprawling on the floor in pirate costumes? And how easy would it be for you and your generation of close friends to stay in touch without speaking for more than three minutes on the telephone?

    Facebook recently participated in a study in which they assessed how FB friends postings (and moods) affected each other— and found a strong correlation (as reflected in posts and comments.) Obviously, that this was an experiment conducted without notice or permission is troubling. But the data itself indicates the extent to which our friends and social groups shape us.

    Anyhow– great topic. Am a journalist covering the social factors that affect health– would love to help.

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