Book Concepts That Will Never Sell

As a public service to our agency clients and the general Christian publishing industry (but mostly because it is a real drag being serious all the time) here are some book concepts that will never sell.  Don’t even bother trying to develop them.

  • I Never Knew You: Depressing Bible Verses
  • The Dog that Returned to His Vomit: A Bible Story for All Ages
  • The Eglon Diet: The Purpose Driven Knife
  • Methodists are from Neptune, Presbyterians are from Jupiter
  • Right Behind: Biblical Proof of a Second Rapture
  • The Woman You Gave Me Made Me Eat It: Winning the Marital Blame Game
  • Bible Trash-Talk: Job gets lit up and other Bible passages where God had enough
  • Girls Like Sword-Drill Winners
  • Cheat Codes for Awana Games
  • Butch Butterman and His Friend, Mac the Friendly Ferret: Bible Stories from Weird People and Exotic Animals
  • God Wants You to Have Thick Hair
  • The Complete Book of Bible Complaints
  • The Complete Book of Bible “Begats”
  • 90 Minutes in Muscatine, Iowa
  • The World Will End in 2012 (Special 2015 Update)
  • Completely Unaffected: Industries, Groups and Sports Teams who will not be affected by the Rapture
  • Ole Johnson’s Bible Recipes with Lefse
  • Lutefisk: The Devil’s Food
  • Plagiarism: And Other Secrets to Faster Sermon Preparation
  • The Weak-Willed Parent: Give Your Kids What They Want so they Don’t Embarrass You in the Supermarket
  • The Sharp-Dressed Usher
  • You’ve Got to Stop Your Evil Ways, Baby.
  • Cramming for Finals: Intense Bible Studies for people over 100.
  • Moan, Whimper and Complain Your Way To Happiness
  • Setting the Bar Low: Spiritual disciplines for Procrastinators and Underachievers
  • A Broken Clock is Right Twice A Day: Inspirations for the Pessimist
  • Eat Well, Stay Fit, Die Anyway: Tips on healthy Living for Fatalists

Finally, as a public service to novelists, a handy tool for coming up with concepts for your next award winning manuscript.

The Dan Balow Fiction Formulas:

  • The (insert noun) of (insert another noun)
  • (noun) of the (insert adjective and noun)
  • (adjective and noun) of the (noun)
  • (Christian word) of the (Christian word)
  • (color) (noun) of the (noun)
  • When (plural noun) see the (meteorological term)
  • The (number) (plural noun) of (geographic location)
  • The (something from Pottery Barn) of (name of Amish town)

And special mention to those of you who write for Enclave Publishing

  • (Italian name) marries a (animal type) from (name of planet)



25 Responses to Book Concepts That Will Never Sell

  1. Avatar
    Bobbi Junior September 19, 2014 at 6:10 am #

    Is this the result of agent-related PTSD? or too much time around the water cooler?

    Hilarious. Thanks for the morning smiles!

  2. Avatar
    Bob Hostetler September 19, 2014 at 6:15 am #

    So glad my pet project, SECRET SINS OF CHRISTIAN AGENTS, EDITORS, AND PUBLISHERS isn’t on your list!

    • Dan Balow
      Dan Balow September 19, 2014 at 6:23 am #

      Gosh, I can’t think of one. The book would have no words!

    • Avatar
      Laura Christianson September 19, 2014 at 11:02 am #

      Love it, Bob. Way to get back at the agent (or should I say, “former agent”).

  3. Avatar
    Joe Plemon September 19, 2014 at 6:18 am #

    Thanks for a hilarious Fun Friday post. Thanks also for the heads up. Maybe my Complete Book of Bible “Begats” isn’t such a great concept after all. I’ll take your advice and not even try to develop it.

  4. Avatar
    Karen Friday September 19, 2014 at 6:18 am #

    Love it Dan! This article gave ‘Girl’ Friday a smile on Friday. Actually I laughed out loud. I will never attempt to write one of these books. 🙂

  5. Avatar
    Nancy B. Kennedy September 19, 2014 at 6:45 am #

    Hahaha! This should go viral, if there’s any justice in the world! And speaking of viruses, “The Plagues: How to Avoid Them, or We’ll Cross that Sea When We Come to It.”

    • Dan Balow
      Dan Balow September 19, 2014 at 6:49 am #

      Yep, Exodus has a lot of great book possibilities. Anyone with recipes using locusts?

    • Avatar
      Johnnie Alexander September 19, 2014 at 7:41 am #

      Dan’s titles were great, but this one is the best of all. Way to go, Nancy!

  6. Avatar
    Nancy Mehl September 19, 2014 at 7:57 am #

    Well, there go all my proposals. Sigh. Starting over…

  7. Avatar
    Jennifer Dyer September 19, 2014 at 8:00 am #

    Ha! Those were great. I can see comedian Tim Hawkins getting some pretty good ideas from this post. 🙂

  8. Avatar
    M.G. Moss September 19, 2014 at 9:30 am #

    Dang. Thought some if those had potential. Thanks for the smile.

    • Dan Balow
      Dan Balow September 19, 2014 at 9:35 am #

      Well, if you want to be successful you need to be either really good or really goofy, so maybe these aren’t such bad ideas after all?

      Hmm…thought provoking.

  9. Avatar
    Andrea Joy Graham September 19, 2014 at 10:58 am #

    Careful, I know people who would take that as a challenge. 😉

  10. Avatar
    Laura Christianson September 19, 2014 at 11:04 am #


    May I ask how many of these concepts have actually been pitched to you?

    Thanks for making me smile and laugh out loud on a Friday morning.

    • Dan Balow
      Dan Balow September 19, 2014 at 11:17 am #

      None of these were pitched to me…they came from years of goofing off at work.

      Just about everyone in publishing ends up in a meeting where random titles are discussed, joking around. Then someone mentions something that was intended to be funny and the room goes silent until someone says, “Hey, that might work.”

      Not frequently, but every once in a while this happens!

  11. Avatar
    Cathe Swanson September 19, 2014 at 11:48 am #

    My favorite:
    Cramming for Finals: Intense Bible Studies for people over 100.

    But the Lutefisk one is unkind. God loves Swedes, too. 🙂

    • Dan Balow
      Dan Balow September 19, 2014 at 11:52 am #

      I love Swedes too. But anything made by first soaking it in poison for who knows how long cannot be good.

      Lutefisk is best used to start a really great fertilizer compost.

      • Avatar
        Cathe Swanson September 19, 2014 at 3:25 pm #

        I agree with you, but please don’t tell my mother I said so.

  12. Avatar
    Chris September 19, 2014 at 4:54 pm #

    Dan. I had to laugh. Thanks for the belly laugh. I guess you sitting there with two computers brings out the best in you. lol

  13. Avatar
    Marilyn Read September 19, 2014 at 7:13 pm #

    My personal favorite is the God and thick hair thing. I can testify to the absolute fallacy of that. Hair does not thicken according to prayer.

  14. Avatar
    Lee Carver September 19, 2014 at 7:48 pm #

    May I add a few?
    Fifteen Ways for Choir Members to Stay Awake;
    Scandals from the Pastor-Parrish Relations Committee Meetings; Gleaning Great Gossip from Prayer Meetings;
    Excuses for Not Attending (with separate chapters for Sunday School, Funerals, and Committee Meetings).

  15. Avatar
    Peter DeHaan September 24, 2014 at 5:55 pm #

    Dan this is a great list. I’ve returned for the third time to read it again. It’s like the gift that keeps on giving!

  16. Avatar
    Vernessa Taylor September 25, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

    Steve, you’ve started a revolution. Here’s my upcoming pitch: Give and Ye Shall Receive: The Garbage You Put Out Shall Be Dumped Upon Your Lawn!

    Thanks for a great way to end a day. 🙂

  17. Avatar
    Vernessa Taylor September 25, 2014 at 3:38 pm #

    Oh, yeah, Dan, “Steve” is the name of the “editor” when you don’t bother to find out who to send the pitch to! (Oops!)

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