I am constantly developing book ideas. Here’s a process that I’ve used that helps.

First, sum up your idea. Write the general concept for your story or nonfiction book in a few sentences. You’re not going to get every relationship or plot point into those three sentences, but you should be able to convey the essence of what makes your idea unique. Write what you know.

If you’ve been reading books for the age group you’re interested in writing for, now you can compare your idea to published books and judge if it’s right for your audience. Does your picture book idea lend itself well to many different action scenes and illustrations? Or does it rely heavily on dialogue and internal character development that is best expressed through thoughts and emotions?

Think big. Get weird. Reach for the most outrageous concept you can, then dial it back until it makes sense. Study authors who have charted new ground with their books.