In my last post—The Novel Funnel—I shared about what a novel funnel is, how to create one, and where to get ideas you can start tossing into the funnel.
Today let’s talk about what to do with the ideas you’ve tossed into the file, or the wide opening of the funnel. Your ideas can be rough or developed, it doesn’t matter. The point is to keep adding to your idea file. Keep processing the ideas and moving them forward so you become a prolific producer of great novels.
Remember that a funnel is wide at the opening and narrows as you go deeper, move further along. Items further along in the funnel are more developed. If you’ve done your homework, you have many ideas in the wide part of the funnel and now you need to begin developing one or more ideas for the next stage of the process of pushing through the funnel. After a while, you should have many novel ideas in various stages of the process.
Does all this sound foreign to you? Maybe you’ve polished one novel and your agent is shopping it around. Or maybe you’ve written a book and have self-published it, putting it up on all the eBook venues. But now what? If you have a novel funnel you never have to ask that question.
Never stop working on that next novel or proposal. While your agent is shopping, you work on your next idea—and you get that from your novel funnel. In fact, you might have several ideas you can develop and put into a three book proposal. Isn’t this fun? But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Let’s back up and talk about all those ideas floating around in the funnel, or sitting there in your file. Now you’re ready to pick one idea and move things along. How do you choose from the 5, 10, 20 or maybe even 50 ideas you've stored away? This can sometimes be the hardest part, and much of your decision will depend on several factors.
What I usually do is use the rule of three. For some reason that’s my rule for everything. For instance, I hate shopping for clothes and usually only venture out to buy something new when I have an event to attend. I pick three stores and I’d better find what I want in one of those three. That’s it!
I do the same thing with my ideas file.That number could be different for you, but picking just three will narrow things down and keep you focused.
Look through all your ideas and pick the first three that stand out to you. They excite you, or you can picture a great hook for a proposal to your editor. Next look at your three ideas and decide which one of those three you believe has the potential to carry you forward through a proposal and then, if that proposal sells, the whole book.
If you're struggling to decide, you might need to develop the ideas further—write up a blurb and flesh out the conflict in general, before you clearly see which idea to work on. In essence, you're going to select your next novel proposal based on these criteria:
- Which one excites you the most?
- Which one appears the most commercially viable? The most marketable?
- Which one has the greatest potential for high concept or strongest hook?
At this point, you should know which idea to develop into a complete proposal. Once that proposal is completed and sent to your agent, you have two choices. You can either work on completing the novel, or work on developing the other two ideas and move them along in the funnel. This is important in case your proposal is rejected, then you already have another one ready, or almost ready, to send to your agent and the process begins all over again.
Let’s say that proposal is accepted and you begin work on the project, but perhaps you are writing for more than one publisher. The good news is that you already have proposal ideas in process and you move them along to completion and sent to your agent or editor.
This is how you keep things moving in your writing career. You’re always working on your ideas, your projects, and moving them forward and by using the novel funnel you will always be a prolific author.