The fear that someone else has written your book is one that holds back many aspiring authors from writing their book.
The only way to discover the answer to this question is to go and do some research (see my blog posts on online research and bookshop research). Once you know the answer to this question, you can move forward. In the meantime, let’s look at some of the main triggers for that fear that someone else has written your book.
- Someone else has used the title you were planning to use.
- Someone else has written the content you were planning to write.
- Someone else has written my book better than I ever could.
However, once you look at these scenarios in more detail to see if the situation is as catastrophic as you originally thought.
1. Someone else has used my title
If someone else has used you title (or one that is similar) it’s time to get your thinking cap on. It’s the only solution. However wedded to your title you were, however clever and apt you believed it to be, you will simply have to find another one, preferably a better one. To help, take another look at your message and your content to see if you can use that information to stimulate your thinking.
Whatever happens, don’t let the fact that your title has been used prevent you from getting on with your book. You will come up with a new title, but if you have no content to put in your book, you title won’t be much good to you.
The truth is that there is very little that is original when it comes to ideas and content. What marks out anything you write is your angle, message or argument. So, if you find someone else has apparently written the same book as you, first to look at the argument or message they have used. Is it the same as yours?
It is unlikely that someone else’s content is exactly the same as yours but if it is close, you need to start looking at the detail. Look at the structure of their book and the tone they have used. How long is the book? How detailed is their content, how well-researched is it? Once you start to identify the differences between your content and the other book’s content you will begin to identify what is unique about your book.
3. Someone else has written my book better than I ever could
If you’ve ever had a book idea and then seen that someone else has written the same book, and written it brilliantly, you will know how demoralising that can be. If your book is half-written or almost finished, it can very difficult if someone more famous (or better qualified than you) publishes their book ahead of you.
What do you do in that situation? It is important that you hold your nerve and take thorough look at the other book. It is easy to get overwhelmed when someone produces a book that is almost exactly the same as the one your planned. But you need to recognise that one book can never fulfil the needs of the whole of that market.
For some, the book may be too academic, or too simple or too long or too short…you see, it is the detail that will enable you to understand where you can provide something different for that market.
If someone has published ahead of you, you have the advantage of being able to examine their book and find the gaps or opportunities. You may decide to delay your own publication to let things calm down a bit, or decide to use the noise made by the other book to get some attention for your book.
When it comes to worries about whether someone has stolen your idea, you need to shift your mind set. Work on making your book better, different or more relevant to your market. While it can be difficult to find someone else has already had the same (or at least similar) thoughts about as book as you, it is important to take a breath, let the panic and paid ease and begin to get logical about the situation. You can write your book. Don’t let your fears hold you back or let disappointment or worry stop you from writing your book.
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