There are few easy chores when writing and publishing a book, but book ideas are tough, no matter how you slice and dice them. Looking at Twitter, it appears you can ask fifty writers for their inspirations, and get twenty-five different answers. I wouldn’t be surprised if some have a flowchart like we use in the IT business. You’re probably seen them: stick drawings with boxes, diamonds, triangles, and so on. A lot of “if/then/else” decisions on paper.
My method has two steps.
“Is it reasonable?”
You’ll probably never see a teenage zombie apocalypse story on my bookshelf because I feel the readers’ suspension of disbelief can stretch only so far. While I did not enjoy Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road,” the characters and events were believable for the most part. On the other hand, I can’t get past one or two episodes of Netflix original series like “Daybreak” because my eyes kept rolling. Teenagers may love two-dimensional characters with one-dimensional explosions, but I want real meat on those bones.
“Is it a good idea?”
This is the veto point, but what is a good idea? Hell if I know. There are seven books on my bookshelf, and dozens of unpublished manuscripts and fleshed-out book ideas in Google Docs. If you apply the thumbscrews, I’d say the book must hit me in my feels. Yeah, I’m secure in my masculinity to admit that some manuscripts made me tear up like I’m peeling onions, but others left me feeling “meh” after 80,000 words. The latter are the ones stuck in limbo. Once I decide I have a good idea, though, I’m a greyhound chasing a rabbit. Get out of my way.
I don’t care about profitability or a thousand other details you might find in other writers’ brain spaces. I write and self-publish what I like, and if the world doesn’t buy the final product, I throw up my hands and move onto the next book. Either way, I have to believe in the books that I published, or I feel I wasted everyone’s time, and nobody wants that.