I've started by recruiting a knowledgeable librarian :) No, seriously, I think any writer should do that, particularly if they're not writing fiction. Indirectly he himself gave me the idea by his having assembled a themed display in Coventry Library; I looked at the display this morning, and then, on the way to get a coffee, the idea hit. It was a case of conspicuousness by absence, a "what's missing in this picture?" moment, which was then very quickly followed by "I'd be pretty much the ideal person to write That Book!"
I mentioned it to one person I know while I was coffeeing, someone I trust not to run off with the idea or blab about it, and she did the "OMG. Yes. No, I'm not feeding your ego, I think it'd be a damned good book!" thing. That convinced me, and as soon as I'd finished my coffee I hurried back to the library and asked at the Inquiries desk who had been responsible for the display, and might I have a quick word with them?
The librarian was more than happy to talk with me, and he did a rather more restrained (we were in a library, after all!) version of the "OMG. Yes!" thing. He's promised me a listing of the books that he selected for the display (including the ones that haven't been put on the shelves yet) and he'll send me it that so that I can use it as part of the justification for my idea. He's also said that he'd be delighted to help me with any further research that I'll need to do. Have I said before how much I adore librarians? Let me say it again.
So that's three people who are enthusiastic already, which can't be bad.
Apart from The Idea, the strong points are:
1) I can write.
2) I'm knowledgeable about the components of The Idea, which will make it very easy for me to talk with the people I'm going to need to interview for source material.
3) Because of those, I won't need any co-authors.
4) It should be cheap to do, since I can do most of the interview-related work by e-mail, instant messenger, phone and so on. Though it'd be nice to do some face-to-face interviewing, I could mostly get away with virtually no travel costs.
5) It should sell in at least two, maybe three, sizeable markets. There's room for quite a crossover effect too.
I bought a Lucky Pen this afternoon to celebrate. Even though I'll be writing mostly on the computer, it's a symbolic act, and I like symbolic acts. I also have a nice new notebook. A paper one :)
Now the tough stuff:
1) Talking about it. I don't want to blow the gaff by transgressing some unwritten law by talking it over with people. Obviously I shan't be making it publicly available because that would make it unbuyable (and I'd quite like the money from this, even if it turns out not ot be very much) - but How Much is Too Much? I know that I'm going to have to talk a bit about it to some people just to be able to find the people that I want to interview, but I'd appreciate some guidelines on what is and isn't OK. I know some of you are published writers, so any hints would be good.
2) Money. Yes, I know it's unlikely that being so far unpublished (apart from journals and small magazines) I'm not going to get much of an advance, if any, but I'll need a bit of money to pull this off. For a start, I don't even have a voice recorder for interviews. I may need to travel. And if I have to make international calls to talk with people, that'll cost too.
3) Facilitation. Do I need an agent? Do non-fiction writers even have agents? The only people I know who do are fiction writers. If I do, how do I find one? I think it should be relatively easy to find lists of potential publishers for the book because of the topic, but it could be some legwork that I'd happily delegate :)
4) Finding the people. This I think oughtn't to be too hard, but it's best to Be Prepared. I have contacts, and I bet they have contacts too. It's be nice to have a few "name" people to interview, but I certainly don't want it to be all "name" material. I'm going to look at this part of it as an adventure more than as a possible obstacle.
So you can see why I'm a bit excited. Now all I have to do is to turn the idea into reality.
Ideas, help and all that gratefully solicited, particularly if you've had a non-fiction book published.