Your Perfect Book

There are a few things that go into imagining the Perfect Book. And your criteria might be totally different than my own. It also might take you several rounds of revisions or several books before you really settle on the criteria you need for defining your Perfect Book.

But here is what I do to establish mine:

  1. I imagine a book cover for the finished product. I don’t make one (though you’re welcome to, if it will help you!), but I do jot down the general image and style I’m imagining.
  2. I decide on  the overall vibe I want the book to have. The general mood, the sensations the reader takes away, the final message they have when they close the book—I can just feel all of that in my chest. So the goal is to translate that feeling onto the page.
  3. I decide what my genre is. There are genre conventions that are required (yes, I said required) in order to satisfy different audiences. A cozy mystery has a vastly different shape than a noir detective thriller, and readers of those genres will pick up books with expectations. If you don’t meet those expectations, then you’re basically missing the point of writing in that genre—and you’re probably going to leave readers dissatisfied.
  4. I decide who my target age group is. Similar to genre, if I’m writing for a middle grade reader, then the book will be vastly different than if I’m targeting an adult reader. This is both from a content standpoint as well as a voice standpoint. 

Here’s an example I wrote recently for my longtime Work In Progress, Screechers. This is literally taken from my notebook!

  1. Book cover = This is a dense book. We’re talking a thin paged, mass market paperback with a very traditional soft cover. I see it almost like the old Dune covers where we have a desert and a figure, and the colors are all sandy, umber, ochre.
  2. Vibe = It is rich and moving and possibly even award winning. It has mystery, romance, and this epic, sweeping feeling. It blows through and by you, whispering its story on the wind. It’s very character driven and very dependent on their arcs. The setting is a character, possibly more so than any other book I’ve written. It is ultimately hopeful and shows how humanity can be good, even when there is so much work to do.
  3. Genre = Epic fantasy
  4. Target reading age = Adult with some crossover into YA potential