Things To Expect When You Realise A Successful Author Has Written Your Book Idea #Writer



Those pesky successful authors can sometimes bring out a book which is very similar to the idea you have been working on for months. This situation is a hard one to recover from.

Here’s what to expect:

  1. Idea pride. You have an amazing idea for a book. It wakes you up in the small hours. Your excitement bubbles over and you tell your unconscious loved one all about it, speaking very fast and not taking a breath. They don’t share your enthusiasm and mutter something about it being 2.34 A.M. You know that this new book premise will be the making of you. Every time you think of it you get a burst of literary pride and feel the need to tweet stuff like ‘#amazingnewbookidea and #bookerprizedefo. It’s great to think that you came up with such a powerful and totally unique  idea. Sigh!
  2. Exposure. You believe your story has literary potential, so you decide to limit the exposure of it, which means you don’t tell a soul….well almost. You limit the exposure of your story idea by only telling non-writing friends, trusted writing friends and family. Everyone thinks it’s a good idea. So you tell a few more trusted souls. Feeling uplifted you go stand in your favourite bookshop and in your head you tell those pesky successful authors at the top of the charts that they better watch out!
  3. The passing of time. You throw yourself into your story and set to work writing this literary masterpiece. Days turn into weeks and weeks  turn into months as you try to write down the story idea in your head. It’s at this stage you start to wish you’d not come up with an idea requiring so much research. It really is back-breaking stuff. Plus you find yourself getting distracted with important stuff like a.) daydreaming about who will play the lead male / female role, when it is turned into a film and b.) thinking about whether you should give a literary agent an early warning email. A quick heads up to let them know you are working on something unique and ground breaking!  Eventually your enthusiasm for your idea wears off. You decide to leave it partially finished and go off to do other meaningful things like spending hours on Twitter, taking extra long baths and sampling cheese from around the world.
  4. Shocking Discovery. One day, some time in the future, you are stood in your bookshop of choice gawping at the book charts. To your horror there is a book which is similar to your idea. Nooooooooo! Some pesky successful author has written a similar story! You cry out ‘but….but….I was going to write something like that!’  (Cue sobs)
  5. Acceptance. It is a tough one to accept. At the start of the acceptance process you have to endure your brain playing the ‘what if?’ game which is really helpful. Basically you spend a serious amount of time sat (staring into space) asking yourself ‘what if I had finished that draft and done something with it?’  Then you beat yourself up about what could have happened with that good idea if you had actually got off your lazy literary ass. After some solitary long walks in the rain, a few calls to your emotional support help line, hundreds of emails to your long-suffering writer friend and a heated discussion with your loved one (who said ‘you should have worked at it, finished it and sent it out! It’s your own fault!’) you decide to accept the situation.   That pesky successful author probably had time on their hands to do all that research. Later on (after a soft egg and toast soldiers) you have a read again of your old draft. Your opening chapter sounds loads better than what that pesky successful author came up with! Huh!

This is a tough one writers so take care out there!

photo credit: Adobe

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I am a blonde writer of romantic comedy fiction.

54 thoughts on “Things To Expect When You Realise A Successful Author Has Written Your Book Idea #Writer

  1. This happened to me as a scientist! I had an idea… a simple one…plugged away by myself…and just as I was about to write it up for publication in a reputable journal…someone else gazumped me. Least that’s how I felt. After an ‘unfair’ bit of bad language and a few days of everyone giving me plenty space I thought right okay lets still do this but my way. So I did, or rather we did, a colleague and I worked like mad to come up with a publication that made our names, it was our take our style our energy that made us different…and we kept it simple. Lesson learnt…there is more than one way to tell a story…no one else is you. Well that woke me up pre-7am on a Wednesday UK morning.

  2. I circle through 1-3 but usually realise I deluded myself, my story is about as unique as Tesco’s cheddar (mature flavour) and wish I’d chosen a different path to creativity…

  3. Frustrating. Liz Gilbert has a beautiful philosophy regarding our creative inspiration. I heard it on a podcast. Not her Big Magic one though I don’t think. Ideas come to many of us, the same idea. Oh, I’m going to say it badly but it’s a beautiful idea. She had an idea and Ann Patchett wrote the book before she did. They became friends out of it.

  4. I find that most of the Young Adult books published have the same ideology. I think that what makes one book significant from the others was how it was written and how the characters evolved from the first page to the last.

  5. Don’t fret too much. I was networking with another author only to learn that our books were written with a strikingly similar premises. Intrigued (and maybe a little freaked out) I bought her book. While the premise was similar, the execution between the two was not even close to the same. (it was still a good read) Don’t worry. You will shine for your own merit.

  6. I’d not say the name on public domain but I’ve been through this similar trauma. Gosh! How I wished I had written it before that bestselling writer. Ugh.
    I’ll write some book in the very near future. 🙂

  7. In 2005/06, I was writing (in 5-Stage manner described perfectly above) a true, heartbreaking story of my life in 2005/06. Then, in a deeply desperate moment, a friend gave me “Eat Pray Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert. Her opening chapter was loads better than mine. 🙂 Good thing she spared me the embarrassment of that tell-all!! LOL — great post!

      1. Ah… but hers was first! 🙂 (I didn’t know it then, but she did me a favour. I would have spent years eating loads of chocolate while figuring out just how much anguish I should ultimately reveal!)

  8. This is awful. It’s frustrating. But…I see people mentioning Liz Gilbert. She addresses this issue in Big Magic. (It’s only one part.) Brilliant book. Interesting view of this. (She had numerous people yell at her that she stole their book after she wrote Eat, Pray, Love…)

    P.S. Don’t blame the cheese. Never blame the cheese. 💛

  9. I feel the same about smaller pieces of work too. I will want to write a poem and then see someone write a similar poem. It makes me sad but then I remind myself that I can still write my own poem. I can make it my own. Thanks for sharing!

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