Nobody Buys an Idea

I always need a little time to process after a writing conference. After three days of enjoying WriteOnCon workshops, podcasts, Q&A panels, and blog posts, my brain has finally come up with some takeaways!

WriteOnCon 2020 Afterglow: Nobody Buys an Idea

Today, I’m sharing one of the little eureka! moments that I had as the information sank in this week. Perhaps it’s something you’ve needed to hear, too.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who struggles to complete a manuscript, agonizing about how future beta readers will react to my attempt at a plot twist or a character quirk that stopped being cute four rewrites ago. I’m sure I’m not the only one searching for a golden piece of advice that will flip a switch and make me a better writer. Or at very least, fill in my most recent plot hole. I can’t be the only one wondering if, what I consider a magical mashup, will be viewed as an insane Frankenstein’s monster that should be killed with fire.

A lot of questions during last year’s WriteOnCon conference echoed my own worries. How will people react to this? Is it okay if I do that in my novel? Would a publisher even consider a book like mine? The resounding answer; “well, that depends.”

Helpful, I know.

Across the board, agents and authors alike shrugged and said the same thing. “Well, that depends. We’d need to see the manuscript and go from there.”

And everything clicked.

You see, lots of people have ideas. Cool, amazing, astounding ideas. When a writer goes to an agent and says they have a great idea, the agent can only agree. Because it’s true. There’s no such thing as a bad idea, after all. And it seems everybody has at least one.

But an agent can’t buy an idea. That’s not what agents do. To their mind, ideas are a dime a dozen. They’re great, they’re exciting, they’re oh-so shiny. But they’re not worth very much, because nobody buys an idea.

There’s a lot of work that goes into a book. Revision and rewrites. Pitching and polishing. Contracts and critiques. Sales and signings. And you can’t do any of those things with an idea in your back pocket and the hope in your heart.

Writers have the unique ability to turn their ideas into something more, but too many of us are worried about the right things in the wrong order. We want someone to assure us that a contract is waiting at the end of our long, hard work. But… well, that depends.

Ideas are just a starting point. A pinpoint of light that will lead you down a dark and doubtful path full of questions with no specific answers. But slowly and surely, that light will brighten and become something solid. Something you can show to an agent. Something they can sell. Something finished.


Did you attend WriteOnCon this year? What were your favorite takeaways?

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