Being an Author · Ramblings

20+ Book Ideas You Can Use for Your Next Book

(This post contains affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission at no extra charge to you if you click on a link and make a purchase. Thank you!)

I’ve come up with ideas for books while listening to my daughters, reading articles, watching TV, going for walks, talking to others, and on and on it goes.

Book ideas are literally all around us!

The idea for my book Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles began in my garden while picking cucumbers to make pickles. The book Aah! Blown Away, Crash! An Alphabet Misadventure, which I created with one of my daughters, started at a writer meeting I attended years ago.

Awesome Idea Syndrome

I don’t have any problem coming up with ideas for books. No, I’ve got lots of ideas! My problem is Awesome Idea Syndrome.

Even though Awesome Idea Syndrome is a term I made up and diagnosed myself with, I’m sure I am not the only writer to suffer from it.

The main symptom of Awesome Idea Syndrome is I am content working on a manuscript until…(insert page turn here) I see or hear something that I think would make an interesting book. Then, I get so excited about that idea that I start working on a new manuscript until…(next page turn) another idea comes to me.

And on and on it goes. (As a side note, the ideas aren’t always “awesome”, but it sometimes takes me a while to figure that out.)

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay 

I have suffered from Awesome Idea Syndrome for quite a while now. (I have a bin full of partially finished manuscripts to prove it.)

Thankfully, I have found a remedy that has helped me cope with Awesome Idea Syndrome. It’s my “Idea Box”.

I created my “Idea Box” last year with an old shoe box, some decorative card stock, glue, tape, and scissors. It’s not a complete antidote, but it has helped significantly reduce the complications of Awesome Idea Syndrome.

Now, whenever I have a new idea for a book, I write that idea on a library checkout card. Sometimes, I add additional notes to the card, but I limit the amount of time I spend on the new idea. Then, I insert the card into my idea box.

Of course, I could use pieces of paper, but I like the fact that library checkout cards relate to books (and I had been given over 100 of them for free, so I had them on hand already).

Too Many Ideas

There are definitely benefits to having an idea box. I haven’t started numerous random manuscripts over the past year. I have actually finished more writing projects. And I can see how “unawesome” some ideas are after having them sit for a while. (As another side note, idea journals are also helpful!)

A con to my idea box, though, is that I now have a box full of random ideas. Too many ideas for me to ever use in my lifetime!

So, just like I sort through and donate items in my home I no longer want, I have recently sorted through my idea box. And I am “donating” the ideas I no longer want to you.

You are welcome to use any of the following ideas in your next book project. Please keep in mind, I have not researched these ideas any further than what is listed below. As a result…

  • …they may not actually be awesome.
  • …they may have already been written about before. (But maybe they could be written in a new format/genre or from a different angle.)
  • …they may not be 100% accurate.
  • …they may not end with a book deal.
  • …they may or may not make sense.

And now, without further ado, here are 20+ book ideas you can use in your next book.

Nonfiction Book Ideas

  • Engineering design process compared to the writing process
  • Inventions or other things commonly thought to be created by someone or some place that didn’t actually create it first
    • Noodles were invented in China (not Italy or some other place)
    • Fortune cookies were invented in California (not China)
  • The year of 2 Thanksgivings
    • Canada and USA have two different dates for Thanksgiving
    • Grandpa could tell a story of when the USA had two Thanksgivings (1939)
  • Walter Hunt
    • Inventor
    • He owed a man money, so he created the safety pin (which he called a “dress pin”) and sold the rights to it for $400
  • Parachuting beavers
  • “Tom Thumb”
    • Possible legend?
    • Steam powered engine lost a race to a horse drawn train
  • Molasses disaster in Boston
  • Ship disasters that killed more passengers than Titanic
    • Wilhelm Gustloff and Lusitania
    • Historical fiction book: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys (Penguin Books, 2017)
  • Peshtigo, WI fire vs Chicago, IL fire
    • Took place at the same time
    • More people killed in Peshtigo fire than Chicago fire
  • Invention of bubble wrap
    • 1957 Alfred Fielding and Mac Chavannes
    • “Trying to create a textured wallpaper”
    • Started with two pieces of plastic shower curtain
    • “Accidental invention”
  • “Accidental inventions”
  • History of the can opener and food in cans
    • Canned foods were invented 48 years before the can opener?
  • Bob Ross
    • American painter
  • Jesse Owens
    • American athlete
    • Won 4 gold medals in 1936 Olympics (shortly before WW2)
  • Ann Adams
    • Had polio
    • Learned how to draw pictures by using a pencil in her mouth
  • Duck, sheep, rooster first to travel in hot air balloon
  • When Alaska was purchased and the calendar changed (1867)
  • Odd true animal stories
    • Parachuting beavers
    • First hot air balloon ride
    • “Operation Cat Drop”
    • Dogs trained as parachutists
    • 1962 bear ejected at supersonic speed
  • Nubs the marine dog
  • Stumpton, IA
    • Town no longer exists, instead landfill
    • Across the river was a meat packing plant (called Sinclair Packing House) that is now gone
    • Sewage treatment plant build in 1936

Educational Fiction Idea

  • Wizard of Oz fractured story
    • Takes place entirely underwater
    • Good witch could be angel fish
    • Dorothy could be Dorothia the mermaid
    • Toto could be Tortellini the dolphin (or spiny dogfish)
    • Tornado could be a whirlpool (maelstrom)
    • Yellow brick road could be yellow coral and/or yellow kelp
    • Monkeys could be flying fish
    • Sea stars and jellyfish have no heart or brain
    • Octopus have more than one heart
    • Heart reef – Great Barrier Reef
    • Two creatures with symbiotic relationships
    • Brain coral
    • Lion fish
    • Teach about underwater creatures and habitats (without feeling like being taught)

Fiction Ideas

  • Monsters telling campfire stories to each other about kids
  • First hair cut
    • Child’s hair grows just like he is growing
    • “snip, snip”, “clip, clip”, “buzz, buzz”
    • Feels like flying in chair – (going up and down)
    • Wearing a cloak so equates self to a super hero

Finished Manuscript

It’s amazing to me how one idea can be written in so many different ways. Different characters, different genres, different writing styles, different POVs, and the list goes on. That’s the reason ideas aren’t copyrighted but your actual stories are. I’d love to see your story if you use one of these ideas!

If you do complete a manuscript and are interested in publishing it, you will have to choose which publishing option you would like to pursue. (If you are confused about the different publishing options, make sure to check out the course Choosing the Best Publishing Option for You and Your Book: Traditional Publishing, Hybrid Publishing, or Self-Publishing?)

Choosing the Best Publishing Option for You and Your Book

The following resources may be helpful for you if you choose to try the traditional publishing route.

And here are a couple of resources if you choose to self-publish.

I still have more ideas in my idea box than I will ever use, but I’m not ready to pass them on just yet. Maybe I’ll get around to writing at least a few of them someday.

What About You?

Do you suffer from Awesome Idea Syndrome? If so, maybe this list wasn’t what you needed right now. Have you found anything that has helped you stay focused on your current writing project?

Will any of these ideas make it into one of your future manuscripts? I’d love to hear from you!

Being an Author · Courses · Ramblings

Learn Ways to Promote and Market Your Book (That Don’t Include Paid Advertisements or Social Media)

Are you preparing to launch your book into the world? Or have you recently launched your book?

If so, then congratulations!!! Creating and launching a book is a big accomplishment.

I’m sure you have put in a lot of time and energy to get this far. Unfortunately, simply releasing a book into the world will not result in people rushing to buy it.

So, what can an author do to help get their book into the hands of more readers?

Well, that is a great question! There are many authors who use social media and paid advertisements to sell books. But there are also quite a few other ways authors can market and promote their books.

And you can now learn more about those ways in a course I recently created called Book Promotion and Marketing for Self-Published Authors: Ways to Promote and Market Your Book Without Social Media.

Many resources provide information on using paid advertisements or social media to promote and market books, so I decided to create a course that does not include those options.

I’m not saying authors shouldn’t use paid advertisements or social media. Those work great for many authors and are viable options. I simply wanted to provide alternative options for authors to be aware of as they try to reach more readers.

So, Book Promotion and Marketing for Self-Published Authors: Ways to Promote and Market Your Book Without Social Media focuses on ways authors (or future authors) can promote and market their books in inexpensive and even free ways that do not include paid advertisements or social media. (A free Udemy account is required to take the course.)

This course is divided into a total of 23 videos including the introduction and conclusion. Each video is presented with a slide show presentation as well as a downloadable transcript for the convenience of the students. Handouts are also included with many videos to provide additional resources and information to help guide students with their own promotion and marketing journeys.

Taking this course does not guarantee you will sell thousands (or even hundreds) of copies of your book, but it will give you plenty of ideas that may help you get your book into the hands of more readers.

Before deciding if this course is right for you, please check out what is and what is not covered within this course below. You are also welcome to watch the course video, introduction, and the video about the realities of self-publishing before choosing if this is the right course for you over on Udemy.

To your publishing, promotion, and marketing success!

You can register for the course here.

Who This Course is For:

Authors/Writers with no previous publishing experience who want to learn about promoting and marketing books

Beginner self-published authors looking for ways to promote and market their book(s)

Beginner authors who have published through or who plan to publish through KDP Print or IngramSpark (Not Required)

Unpublished authors who plan to self-publish and are interested in learning ways to promote and market their future book(s)

Who This Course is Not For:

Anyone looking for a get rich quick plan

Anyone wanting information about paid advertisements

Anyone looking for in-depth information on using social media for book promotion

You can register for the course here.

What is Not Covered:

Paid Advertisements, Amazon ads, or Social media ads

In-depth explanation of social media

What is Covered:

Section 1: Introduction

Lecture 1: Introduction

Reiterate the information found in the course description such as who the instructor is, what students will learn by the end of this course, who this course is for and who this course is not for, what is needed to complete this course, and an overview of what this course contains

Lecture 2: Realities of Self-Publishing

A few statistics on self-publishing and book sales and what this means for you

Transcript included

Lecture 3: Finding Your Why and Setting Goals

Questions for you to consider as you determine your “why” and set your own goals

Transcript and Assignment included

(Additional Note: Much of the information included within this video was discussed in the course Choosing the Best Publishing Option for You and Your Book: Traditional Publishing, Hybrid Publishing, or Self-Publishing? The included assignment is new for this course.)

Lecture 4: Marketing and Promotion

Brief explanation of marketing and promotion

List of the 5 Ps of marketing

Considerations before publishing a book

Considerations while marketing and promoting a book

Transcript and Additional Resources Handout included

Section 2: People

Lecture 5: Target Audience

Explanation of a target audience

Questions to consider when determining a target audience

Transcript and Assignment included

Lecture 6: Reviews and Influencers

How some authors get book reviews

Possible places for readers to leave reviews

Questions to consider when reaching out to reviewers

Brief description of influencers

Transcript, Additional Resources Handout, and Reviewer Questions to Consider Handout included

Lecture 7: Awards

List of possible benefits of book awards

Possible places to find award opportunities

Considerations when choosing to submit your book for an award

Transcript and Additional Resources Handout included

Section 3: Product

Lecture 8: Book Covers

Book cover tips and questions to consider

Parts to include on book covers with examples

Mention of a resource to possibly use to display book covers for promotional purposes

Transcript and Additional Resources Handout included

(Additional Note: Quite a bit of the information in this video was discussed in the course Self-Publishing 101: Things to Consider Before Publishing Your Book in Print)

Lecture 9: Interior Considerations

Overview of front matter and possible sections to include

Overview of body and possible sections to include

Overview of back matter and possible sections to include

List of additional interior considerations

Transcript and Additional Resources Handout included

(Additional Note: Quite a bit of the information in this video was discussed in the course Self-Publishing 101: Things to Consider Before Publishing Your Book in Print)

Section 4: Price

Lecture 10: Considerations When Choosing a Price

Questions to consider when choosing a price

One possible pricing technique some authors use

Brief overview of KDP Select

Possible ways to add value to your book (and potentially your brand)

Transcript and Additional Resources Handout included

(Additional Note: Quite a bit of the information in this video was discussed in the course Self-Publishing 101: Things to Consider Before Publishing Your Book in Print)

Lecture 11: Metadata

Brief explanation of metadata

Explanation of keywords

Book title considerations

Tips for writing a book description

Tips for choosing book categories

Questions to consider when choosing a publication date

An overview of free vs paid ISBNs

Transcript and Additional Resources Handout included

(Additional Note: Quite a bit of information in this video was discussed in the course Self-Publishing 101: Things to Consider Before Publishing Your Book in Print)

Section 5: Place

Lecture 12: Selling Online

Brief explanation of expanded distribution through KDP Print and IngramSpark

List of possible online retailers for print books

Brief list of distributors for print books

List of possible ways to distribute ebooks

Transcript and Additional Resources Handout included

Lecture 13: Selling Offline Overview

List of possible offline locations to sell physical books (not just in book stores!)

Explanation of 3 possible book delivery options to those offline locations

How to order author copies through KDP Print and IngramSpark

Considerations when ordering author copies to send them to offline locations

Transcript included

Lecture 14: Selling Offline Part 2

Considerations for selling to offline retailers

Considerations for contacting offline retailers by email

Considerations for contacting offline retailers in person

A brief explanation for and considerations for selling on consignment in stores

Transcript and Additional Resources Handout included

Lecture 15: Selling Offline Part 3

Tips for author business cards

Explanation of sell sheets (also known as sales sheets) with a sample

Explanation of what to do when receiving an order for books

Explanation of an order form with a sample

Explanation of an invoice with a sample

Explanation of a book catalog

A couple of examples of why having a website with contact information available is very important

Explanation of what the instructor does when someone reaches out requesting to purchase a large number of books

Transcript and Additional Resources Handout included

Section 6: Promotion

Lecture 16: Book Launch Overview

Explanation of what a book launch is

List of reasons to have a book launch

List of possible places to have a book launch party in person

List of possible places to have a book launch party virtually

List of possible people to invite to a book launch party

List of possible activities to do at a book launch party

List of things to bring to a book launch party

Considerations when choosing a time to have a book launch party

Considerations for the cost of a book launch party

List of what to do after a book launch party

Transcript and Additional Resources Handout included

Lecture 17: Author Website

List of reasons to have an author website

List of possible website platforms

Explanation of wordpress.com vs wordpress.org

List of possible hosting providers

Tips for choosing a domain name

List of pages to (possibly) include on an author website

Information about an About Page

Overview of email lists

List of possible email marketing providers

List of possible legal considerations for websites

Additional author website tips

Transcript and Additional Resources Handout included

Lecture 18: Offering Freebies

List of reasons to offer freebies

List of possible freebies to offer

Additional tips for freebies

Transcript included

Lecture 19: Presentations and Storytimes

List of possible places to speak

Tips for speaking engagements and presentations

Considerations for speaking fees

Transcript and Additional Resources Handout included

Lecture 20: Free Publicity Part 1

Tips for using themed festivals to promote your book

Tips for getting interviews

Possible places to be interviewed

What to do before, during, and after an interview

A brief explanation of HARO

An additional resource for free PR

Transcript and Additional Resources Handout included

Lecture 21: Free Publicity Part 2

Brief overview of Goodreads

Overview of an Amazon Author Page

Overview of Guest Blogging

Overview of Google Alerts

List of other possible free promotion ideas

Transcript and Additional Resources Handout included

Lecture 22: More Promotion Ideas

Overview of social media with some tips

Tips for using Pinterest

A list of a few additional promotional ideas

Transcript and Additional Resources Handout included

Section 7: Conclusion

Lecture 23: Conclusion

Congratulations!!!

Please remember…

Transcript included

You can register for the course here. (And if you still aren’t sure if it is right for you, click here to watch the sample videos.)

Ramblings · Writing Appearances

2020 End-of-Year Writing Update

(This page contains affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission at no extra charge to you if you click on a link and make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate and Udemy Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I greatly appreciate all purchases you make using these links. Thank you!)

As 2020 comes to an end, I find myself reflecting on what I had posted last year for my 2019 end-of-year writing update and 2020 writing goals.

In that post, I had written:

I think it’s beneficial to have some kind of an idea of goals for the upcoming year, but things happen, plans can change, and ideas may lead in a new direction. I don’t know what the future will hold, but I have found it to be more beneficial for me to create monthly (and even daily) goals with a few long-term goals still in mind.

Well, this year was full of plans changing and things happening! It certainly did not go the direction any of us had originally planned.

I had no idea at the end of 2019 that my family would be dealing with COVID, numerous cancellations, an inland hurricane that unexpectedly tore through our area on my birthday leaving us without power for eight days and without internet for three weeks, and multiple other events that had happened throughout 2020.

I’m sure you can relate to how unexpected things have been this year!

Besides numerous cancellations that affected my family personally, I was disappointed about the cancellations of pickle festivals, the local farmers’ market, and other in-person events for my writing adventure. Those cancellations made it more challenging to sell my books and journals this year.

Through it all, though, I am grateful for all the blessings our family has had even when things didn’t go as originally planned.

My 2020 Writing Adventure Accomplishments

This year became my “year of learning about writing” since I had the opportunity to attend multiple writing webinars, a nonfiction conference, an SCBWI spring conference, and the Northwestern Christian Writers Conference because they were all virtual. In fact, I filled an entire binder with all the notes I typed from these various virtual learning opportunities!

As a result of a one on one virtual meeting with an editor through the Northwestern Christian Writers Conference, two writings of mine (so far, at least) were accepted for publication in a children’s magazine (scheduled for 2021).

I created and published four journals. I was hoping to use the field trip journal quite a bit this year since I was organizing monthly field trips for a homeschool group I had started a couple of years ago. But that didn’t happen. Interestingly, our last field trip as a group was in February at a local airport.

I also published a hardcover version of Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles and created and published a picture book with my 12-year-old daughter called Aah! Blown Away, Crash! An Alphabet Misadventure. As a result of that publication, my daughter and I had a few interview opportunities. I really enjoyed working on that project together.

I created one course for SchoolhouseTeachers.com, two courses that I published on Udemy, a class that I taught at a local community college in October (since the class was cancelled in May and July), and a webinar that I presented at the KidLit Indie Publishing Summit.

I continued as a monthly contributor for Hands on As We grow and other writings of mine were published in various places online and in print. I also wrote a couple of picture book manuscripts, which I have submitted to a few places.

How to Raise Entrepreneur Kids Contributor

I was hoping to reach out to state parks and airports to try to sell my Adventure Writing Prompt journal, but I didn’t. I figured they would not sell well with all of the restrictions and cancellations for travel this past year. I was able to sell my Reading Journals to an educational resource supplier, though.

I’ve continued volunteering as a Regional Social Chair for SCBWI IA/MN, and I am still leading monthly writer meetings (albeit virtually instead of in-person). I also had the opportunity to attend a few virtual picture book meetings, which I hope to continue in 2021.

Finally, I joined Twitter and edited a book for a publishing company located in Iowa.

My 2021 Writing Adventure Goals

I am not sure what 2021 will bring especially with my family expecting some big changes in the upcoming year. But I do intend to continue my writing adventure.

Here are some things I am planning to do in 2021:

  • present a webinar hosted by SCBWI IA/MN at the end of January (more info here)
  • continue writing monthly posts for Hands On As We Grow
  • create and present a webinar hosted by Journey to Kidlit
  • teach at the local community college
  • create and publish at least one more course on Udemy
  • edit some more books (I have 5 tentatively scheduled for 2021)
  • decide what to do with a manuscript I have written (submit or publish)
  • research and explore the possibility of writing a book (or a series of books) based on an idea I have (and then start writing it)
  • look into work-for-hire opportunities and decide if it is something I want to pursue

Last year, I had also written something else that still resonates with me.

As Proverbs 16:9 says, “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” I am excited to see where this writing adventure will lead next.

Yes, I have some plans but I don’t know exactly what will happen in the upcoming year. My writing adventure continues to be a part-time endeavor that I hope to continue working on when I can.

What About You?

I have rambled on long enough. Did you accomplish any of your 2020 goals? What are some goals you are hoping to reach in 2021?

Happy New Year!

Crafts and Projects · Ramblings

Simple Crafts for Kids to Display Gratitude this Thanksgiving

(This page may contain affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission at no extra charge to you if you click on a link and make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate and Udemy Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I greatly appreciate all purchases you make using these links. Thank you!)

This year has been quite the year! Need I say more?

I’m sure you have all kinds of thoughts about how this year has not gone as originally planned. Through everything, though, I know I still have a lot to be thankful for. And every morning I thank God for what I do have.

I think Thanksgiving Day serves as a reminder for many to focus on the blessings they have in their lives. So, I figured I’d round up some simple Thanksgiving crafts to do with kids I’ve shared before that show gratitude for what we have.

Thankful Tree

Thankful Tree
Thankful Tree

Each year, my daughters and I create our own thankful tree using a small artificial tree, construction paper, a hole punch, yarn, and writing utensils. We write one item we are thankful for on each of the little tags, which we display on the tree.

You don’t need an actual tree to create a thankful tree, though. You could use construction paper to create your own tree (like the fall leaves one my daughters and I created below).

Fall and winter activities

Thankful Chain

thankful chain
Thankful Chain

Not only are these thankful chains a great way to decorate your house with what you are thankful for, but they can also promote cutting, writing, colors, and pattern making practice for the little ones.

I wrote step-by-step instructions on making a thankful chain in a post published on Hands On As We Grow. You can check it out if you are interested here: Make Your Own Simple Thankful Chain for Thanksgiving.

Thankful Wreath

Thankful Wreath
Thankful Wreath

And another fun fall-inspired decoration. Again, I created step-by-step instructions for this thankful wreath, which was published on Hands On As We Grow. If interested, click here: Kid Made Thankful Wreath to Show Gratitude.

With everything going on this year,

what is (at least) one thing you are thankful for?

Crafts and Projects · Ramblings · Writing Appearances

Simple Science Experiments for Kids in the Kitchen

(This post contains affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission at no extra charge to you if you click on a link and make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I greatly appreciate all purchases you make using these links. Thank you!)

My daughters and I have done a lot of science experiments together over the years!

Some of them we have only done once. I don’t think I’ll ever soak chicken bones in vinegar again. Not sure if we did something wrong, but that reeked!

Other science experiments have been so much fun (and simple) to do that we have done them multiple times. One such experiment is elephant toothpaste.

You can make your own elephant toothpaste using the step-by-step directions I provided on Hands On As We Grow (here). Make sure to scroll towards the bottom of that post if you’d like to download a PDF that includes the needed supplies and directions.

I also recently wrote an article for The Old Schoolhouse magazine about some more fun science experiments to do in the kitchen.

Make sure to check out “Science in the Kitchen” if you are interested in experimenting with roux, toast, yeast, and baking powder in your own kitchen.

All of the science experiments I shared in that article were adapted from the book The Science Chef: 100 Fun Food Experiments and Recipes for Kids and the course Breadmaking Devotional (found on SchoolhouseTeachers.com).

I also mentioned some additional books that encourage science in the kitchen including a few cookbooks for kids. Here they are for easy reference:

So, learn how to make elephant toothpaste here. And check out some fun science in the kitchen experiments here.

I’d love to hear what your favorite simple science experiment is. Please let me know in the comments below.

For even more simple science experiments, make sure to check out these posts: