Free Bestselling Book Idea!

Free Bestselling Book Idea! April 14, 2009
Terrifying natural phenomenon, or bestseller fodder? Yes!

For 10 years now I’ve been carrying around in my out-sized head a book idea that I think is a surefire blockbuster. But I’m booked book-wise for the foreseeable future.

So finally I am now officially giving away this book idea. It’s your lucky day! Maybe. Or whatever.

Here’s the idea: A trade paperback needs to be about 150 pages, right? So my idea is that this book is entitled, And That’s When I Got Struck by Lightning.

On every page of the book is a different first-person story—a real story, from a real person, told in their voice, that you collected off the internet. Each story is about 300 words long. Short. Tight. Self-contained.

So each page has at its top center nothing but, like, “Lois D., 35, Smalltown, Iowa,” or, “Ralph S., 49, Stockton, California.” And then you drop a couple lines, and that person’s story begins.

And here’s the kicker: each of those different stories ends with the exact same sentence: “And that’s when I got struck by lightning.”

You set up a little website—a free WordPress or Blogger site would totally work—at, which as of right now is available for registering. (Oh, sure, I could have snagged it myself for $10 and then sold it to you—but I didn’t.) Then you put the web-call out for anyone who has ever been hit by lightning to go to that site, and leave their story of what happened to them on the day they got hit by lightning.

You wait until you get 150 of those stories. You then edit each one so it’s the right length, and has basically the same tone and pace. And, of course, you make sure that each one concludes with  “… . And that’s when I got struck by lightning.”

So it’d be, like, “On June 23, 1987, my wife Adele and I were going to take our two children to see their grandmother for her birthday. We had a long drive ahead of us, and so I was out in the driveway early that day, packing all the stuff we were taking with us on the trip. I saw that our garbage cans from the night before were still out near the street curb, so I went to take them back behind the fence where we keep them. I rolled one of the cans behind the gate, and then went to get the other. On my way across the yard I bent down to pick up a basketball that my son had left there. And that’s when I got struck by lightning.”

Or, “My friend Bob and I were playing golf. It had been awhile since Bob and I had been able to spend any quality time together, so we were having a great time. He hit a ball into the rough on the eight hole, and I walked over with him to find it. Finally, amongst the reeds and grass, we found his ball. I figured that while he was setting up his shot, I’d go back to where I’d left my bag, to see if I’d remembered to bring my spare golf glove, since the one I was wearing had developed a tear in its thumb. I was walking back to my bag, when I heard Bob say, “I am going to make this shot. I know it!” I turned around to watch him make the shot. And that’s when I got struck by lightning.”

It is my personal opinion that when you first start reading these, they’d be basically unbelievable. Then they’d start to be pretty funny. Then they’d start to be pretty hilarious. Then they’d start to be rib-snappingly funny.

Right around the 30th such story, I’m thinking they’re so funny you have put the book down. I know I would. I’d die laughing.

There. All you have to do is register the website, throw a site up, collect the stories, edit them up. And. You. Are. Bestseller. Gold.

Don’t say I never did anything for you.

[Update: I did, just now, register I was afraid if I didn’t someone else would, just to be all … gougy with it. Lemme know if you want to buy it from me.]

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • SOLD!!!! Except I am booked in this mom/teacher/domestic goddess gig for the foreseeable future!

    Awesome idea, funny guy!

  • 10 years. I've had it in my head for 10 years.

    I have such mixed feelings about giving it away!

    Anyway, thanks for kind words.

  • webme2u

    I would love to try something like this, but I have never published anything in my life. I'm keeping your notes. I know it would take time but could it really be as simple as you make it sound? It does sound like a million dollar idea. Thanks for letting it out of your brain.

  • I can't believe no one's asked me yet about buying from me

    Man. You can't GIVE money away! Or … something.

  • Cheryl

    Back when I first read your account of your conversion experience, I thought THAT would make a good book topic. Kind of like those 'Angel' books in which people tell of their interactions with angels, this one would be about conversion experiences — those burning bush or supply room stories that you know must be out there by the thousands.

  • Cheryl: I was JUST thinking about blogging about that. Do you know about this time last year I submitted and gave to my agent a huge, fully-written book proposal for that EXACT book: a collection of first-person, out-of-nowhere adult conversion stories. My agent didn't think much of the idea, but submitted it around anyway. He later reported back to me that no Christian publisher wanted that book; they couldn't see why any reader, Christian or otherwise, would care to read it. They couldn't see what its "felt need" would be, what the "take-away lessons" from such a book would be. Amazing. I still can't believe it.

    For the genesis of the proposal—for PROOF this book would work—I used this awesome post, which—again, amazingly—I guess Christian publisher just didn't find quite interesting enough:

  • mm

    I took a creative non-fiction writing class in college and we actually ready a short(maybe 20-30 pages) of interviews with people who survived lighting strikes. I wish i could remember the name of it now, or at least the author.

    Anyways, i tried to look for it and instead found this, which i feel is infintley more interesting:

    I can't embed pictures but please check out "Leon the Lightning Lion" who warns kids to "don't be a fool, get out of the pool!" when they hear thunder.

    Let's just hope that if someone does take your idea and runs with it, it's not Leon the Lightning Lion.

  • OH MY GOD!! This is too awesome. What a site!!

    Leo the Lightning Lion. I can't stand stand it.

    I am constantly amazed by much that I basically can't believe. That no one's picked up on this book is now foremost among those unbelievable things.

    Except … I guess there's no reason for anyone to TELL me if they've decided to do the book. I saved the url I mentioned in case anyone wants it—but, I mean … that just seems like MONEY sittin' there, waiting.

    Anyway, SCORE on that site. That'd be a/the resource, right there.

  • Candace

    "For the genesis of the proposal—for PROOF this book would work—I used this awesome post, which—again, amazingly—I guess Christian publisher just didn’t find quite interesting enough:

    OK, now I am 100% convinced that some (too many) publishers just wouldn't know an interesting book concept if it bit them in the … well, you know. 😉

    (I was only about 85% convinced before)

    I think they must not go to church, or hang out within The Body, or something, because when someone is supposed to give a testimony at my church it is always PACKED and any time in a group when anyone starts to tell their story, it's like those old "E.F Hutton says …" ads. People are riveted.

    Ah well. Silly publishers.

  • Candace

    Oh, and btw, I love the “struck by lightning” idea, too, John.

    I can see it turning into a series, actually. “And then I realized my wallet was gone.” “And then the darn thing just blew up!” “And then she/he died.”

    Y’know? The possibilities are endless. I can see a childrens author potentially doing something neat with this too. Especially with the right illustrator.