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Writing Books/How do I make sure its not been done before

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Question
For the first time in my life, I have had an idea for a fiction book. I want to go with it, but before undertaking this challenge, I am keen to know that it has not been done before.  How can I research existing books / plots to try and find out?  

Answer
Hi Bob!

Well, this is a tough question to answer. For nonfiction it's pretty easy.  There's the Subject Guide to Books in Print to look up topics and see what's been published.

For fiction, I'd have to know what genre the book is so as to guide you better.  But it's difficult information to find.  What really makes a book different is the writer's perspective.  If you take a different look at a done-before topic the book still has a chance of publishing.  My best advice at this point is to go to the local or on-line bookstore of your choice and head for the section selling your genre.  Then take a look at those books.  Yeah, it takes time.  There's also a magazine called Publisher's Weekly that will give you info on the latest trends in publishing and also what's coming out in the near future.

I might be more helpful if I knew what kind of book it is.

Please feel free to write back to All Experts with more questions.

Liz Aleshire
Bugs:  Stingers, Suckers, Sweeties, Swingers
www.LizAleshire.com

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Liz Aleshire

Expertise

What is a book proposal and why do I need one? Do I need a book proposal for both nonfiction and fiction books? How do I write a book proposal? What are the required components of a book proposal? What is an overview? What is a synopsis? How do I find out what other books are available on my topic so I can make my book different? How do I pitch to an agent/publisher? What's a query letter? What's a 30-second commercial?

Experience

I am the author of four nonfiction books: Private Lives of Ministers' Wives (with Rev. Sherry Taylor,New Horizon Press, New Jersey, 1991)and currently working on a second edition; Bugs: Stingers, Suckers, Sweeties, Swingers (a FRanklin Watts Frist Book, Chicago, 1993); The Confident Collector Identification and Price Guid to Quilts (with Kathleen Barach, Avon Books, NY, 1992); and, Official Price Guide to Quilts 2nd edition(with Kathleen Barach, Random House, NY, 2003.) I've taught How to Write the Book Proposal for the past ten years at the week long International Women's Writing Guild annual summer conference, and, at the Manchester Community College Continuing Education program. I've taught in many local continuing education programs in central Connecticut. Five authors have sold books using my methods for writing the book proposal. I have spoken at the Big Apple Conference, an IWWG event held in NYC; both Connecticut chapters of the Romance Writer's of America other writing conferences

Organizations
Internation Women's Writing Guild, past associate member American Society of Journalists and Authors

Publications
Books for New Horizon Press. NJ; Franklin Watts (Now Scolastic)Danbury, CT; Avon Books, NYC; and, Random House, NYC

Education/Credentials
B.A in Economics from the University of Connecticut

Past/Present clients
Carren Strock, author Married Women Who Love Women; Doris Larson, travel writer, Ohio; MaryLou Streznewsi author Gifted Grownups.

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