An idea explorer on what makes ideas stand out
Fredrik Haren’s newly-published work The Unvisible marks his debut as a fiction author, a journey nearly 10 years in the making.
Known in business circles as a veteran motivational speaker for 20 years, he wrote The Idea Book, which has sold more than 200,000 copies and has been translated into more than 17 languages. Recently, Haren shared practical knowledge on how to make ideas happen at Greater’s inaugural event Fredrik Haren: The Birth of The Unvisible, held at The Great Room on 15 February.
Centred around an alternate reality where a race of “transparent” humans live alongside the opaque and ‘conventional’ variety, the book was sold out and number 1 on the Amazon Bestseller list for three days after its launch on 25 January.
Here are four takeaways from what we learned at the event that might help your idea materialise.
1. Ask yourself what makes your idea interesting
Penguin, the publisher of The Unvisible, receives thousands of manuscripts from aspiring authors everyday. But for it to pass the pitch in the first place, the book concept has to stand out.
In The Unvisible’s case, the book’s concept stood out as it has a unique concept – “transparent” people who are not only mysterious but dangerous living alongside us in our society.
Conflict is a common theme in books, whether it is conflict with each other, in the case of war, or conflict with otherworldly creatures, in the case of science fiction. For The Unvisible, it is conflict with humans, and the transparent “humans”.
“Why is your idea unusual, exciting and what is it that keeps your attention? That is a question everyone should ask themselves.”
Haren says The Unvisible’s refreshing premise was what caught Penguin’s attention, which brings us to the next point.
Haren also mentions that aside from having an interesting idea, staying true to what you want and persistence helped him achieve his goal of working with Penguin to publish his book. His next goal is to work with the right film director to ensure that they bring out the essence of the story.
2. Draw inspiration from the real world
The idea of invisible people is not new. The Invisible Man, the 1897 classic by H.G. Wells, is the most famous example about what it means to be completely unseen in a sensory world.
But what makes Haren’s take on invisibility unique is the book’s narrative on identity – that the “transparent” people are also human.
“What would happen if there was another race of people that can’t be seen or defined? This race of people are more different than you and I are,” Haren says.
The theme of the human condition is something everyone can relate to. In that way, ideas should relate to everyday life. For example, many online retailers are using dates with the same numerical for day and month, such as 11th November for Singles Day, to hold online sales and promotions.
For singletons, it is a day for self-care and there is no better way to do that than through retail therapy.
3. Ideas can have twists
Haren cites The Idea Book, his international bestselling book about idea creation, is an example of an idea with an unexpected twist. The book stayed in Kinokuniya’s bestseller list for a longer period than titles by Barack Obama and Donald Trump.
It is considered a business book, but with its plain black cover and blank pages in between, it is packaged to look like a Moleskin notebook. It stood out on bookshelves among its textbook-like business manual counterparts. Companies spend way more on stationery than they do business books – they are more likely to buy several copies of The Idea Book, as it is also marketed as a notebook. Higher sales volume of the book led to its bestseller status.
“The Idea Book’s bestseller status boils down to its unusual concept, as it strips the fundamental idea of what a book should be. A similar method can be applied to packaging your idea or product,”says Haren.
4. Build your brand DNA first
Most companies think of branding and marketing only after they have built the product. Haren did the opposite for The Unvisible. During his book launch with Greater, Haren shared with attendees that he had written a 35-page ‘brand DNA document’ and filmed a trailer before writing the book. “Your idea becomes much stronger, clearer and more defined,” he says.
Still unsure how you can develop your idea into a successful product? Join us at our Extreme Creativity workshop happening on 3 March, Thursday, as Fredrik deep dives into what creativity is, how you can develop better ideas (for business and life), how creative process work for different people and how you can find the best process for your own.
Limited seats available. Register here.
The Unvisible by Fredrik Haren. The secret can never be revealed. The story has to be told. Get your own copy.
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