Writers: What do you do when you realise your book idea has been done?

28/02/2019 Discussions, Writing 10

Writers: What do you do when you realise your book idea has been done?

Recently, I started trying to rework a writing project I’d put on the back burner for a while, replotting it according to the really useful beat sheet from Jessica Brody’s Save The Cat Writes A Novel. I loved the concept of the novel, but just wasn’t a fan of what I’d written so far, so I decided to start again and was pretty excited about my new outline. I started working on it, and was feeling good about this new version…

But then the other day I randomly became aware of a new release that sounds very similar to the book I’m attempting to write, and it kind of knocked me for six. The concept I’d loved so much I wanted to have a second attempt at writing has already been written, published, and read by plenty of people.

Obviously, this is an unfortunate coincidence, and let’s face it: pretty much every idea has been done before. But there’s still something quite deflating about coming across a book that has a very similar concept to yours, and it has left me wondering what to do with my book.

I mean, do I carry on? It’s not exactly like it would be the same book: it would be written in my voice, and populated by my characters etc. And I’ve already pumped so much work into it, getting to the 80,000-word mark with my first draft, replotting it and rewriting the first 8,000 words.

But at the same time, I don’t feel excited about it anymore, knowing my concept isn’t as unique as I thought. The concept was the book’s hook, but now it will just be something people have already seen before if I was ever lucky enough to get it published (which in itself might be hampered by the fact that there’s a similar book out there).

This is probably a really stupid thing to worry about, as there are so many books out there that are comparable to others, or even obviously take direct inspiration from others (which mine obviously wouldn’t) that people still enjoy. It’s not like I thought I was some super genius who had come up with something no one had ever thought of before, but I can’t deny it’s sapped my inspiration for the project a little.

But if I started a new project the exact same thing could happen, because these things do (although I do already have a brand new idea nagging at me…). I’ve seen this on a small scale with blogging: I’ll write a post and be pretty pleased with it, only to realise someone else in my blogging circle posted something similar a day or so earlier. These things happen because there’s only so many ideas out there, but everyone can bring their own unique perspective, which is amazing. But then no one wants to look like they copied, or ripped off someone else’s idea…

So I’d be interested to get some thoughts on this! Has this ever happened to you? What did you do about it? Should I carry on, or get to work on my new idea?

10 Responses to “Writers: What do you do when you realise your book idea has been done?”

  1. Imogen

    Ooft! This is a big fear of mine but I also remember finishing a lot of books and series and searching on Google for ‘books like…’ because I enjoyed the world/ concept/ etc and wanted more. I truly believe you could give 100 writers the same prompt and there would be 100 different stories at the end of it because everyone has such different life experiences!
    Keep writing Laura, I can’t wait to read a book by you one day 🙂
    Imogen’s Typewriter. <3

    • Laura

      I’ve definitely done that too where I’ve looked up ‘books similar to…’, and I’m always roped in when books have a ‘for fans of …’ on the cover if it’s something I liked. So being similar in concept isn’t necessarily a bad thing I guess.
      And you make a really good point about writers interpreting the same prompt differently, and it’s a really encouraging thought, so thank you! 🙂

  2. Jenna- JK I'm Exploring

    I was writing a book back in high school and I was probably like 1/4 of the way done with it, had all the rest of it planned out and then Disney came out with Starstruck which was basically the exact thing. I ended up putting my book aside and I haven’t really touched it since. Life got busy and I just am not all that interested in writing anymore.

    • Laura

      Aww, that sucks that Starstruck came out and it ended up with you putting your book aside! I guess it’s not so bad if you’re not that interested in carrying on with it anymore, but I bet at the time you were annoyed. It’s just such an unfortunate coincidence!

  3. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    I would just try to get yourself excited about the book again and keep writing! You’ve aready put lots of work into it and there’s no reason to stop now. Like you say, every idea has been done and it’s impossible to come up with something completely new. When you pitch it, you’ll just have to focus on the things that make it different—what’s your spin on the concept.

    • Laura

      Thanks for being so encouraging! One of my big concerns was pitching it if it’s an idea that’s been done before (and fairly recently), but as you say, I should just focus on what makes my book different.

  4. Zeee @ I Heart Romance & YA

    I think if this book is giving you all the positive vibes and the inspiration to write, I say go do it! I have read a lot of romance books with exactly the same theme/trope but the execution and the author voice is very different!

    I would also suggest not reading that book or reviews of that book because that might taint your current WIP. Otherwise, I suggest going head-on and continue to write!

    • Laura

      That’s true – a lot of the time it’s the author’s voice that makes the story different. Lots of ideas have been done over and over again, but they are still all very different books because of the voice and tone.
      And I think you might be right about not reading the book. In a way I’d kind of been tempted, but it’s probably a bad idea, because as you say, it might taint my WIP. Or it’ll be really good and I’ll decide my book could never be as good as it and just give up!
      Thanks for your advice 🙂

  5. Kay Wisteria @HammockofBooks

    Honestly, with so many books in the world I feel like lowkey everything has been done before loll. If I was you I would just keep writing it, especially since it seems like all published authors go through SO MANY drafts before being published that the story ends up really different from how it started anyway, so it might evolve to be different from that other book on its own

    • Laura

      I agree everything has probably been done before anyway! And that’s a good point that authors usually go through so many drafts, I can imagine my story will probably end up very different from what it is now by the end. Thanks for being so encouraging!

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