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The Total Inventor's Manual: Transform Your Idea into a Top-Selling Product (Popular Science) by [Sean Michael Ragan]

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The Total Inventor's Manual: Transform Your Idea into a Top-Selling Product (Popular Science) Kindle Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 80 ratings
Part of: Popular Science (5 Books)

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Sean Michael Ragan is co-founder and editorial director of, a prominent blogger, and a former editor of MAKE: magazine. His freelance work has appeared in several books as well as Popular Science, ReadyMade, Chemical & Engineering News, and The Wall Street Journal.

Popular Science is the world’s largest science and technology magazine, with 6.1 million print readers and 10 million monthly page views on The publication explores the intersection of science and everyday life, providing science and tech news along with tons of fascinating DIY projects for beginning tinkerers and pro builders alike. Founded in 1872, Popular Science is one of the oldest continuously published magazines in the United States, and is published in five languages and nine countries. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


While inventing something world-changing is a worthy goal, you shouldn’t overlook the more humble problems that are likely lurking right under your nose. Think of all the pesky everyday nuisances that might be reduced or eliminated with a clever new tool, trick, or gizmo, thereby saving yourself and others like you time, money, energy, or stress. Or go after the super-specific problems that enthusiasts only discover when they’re deep in the nitty-gritty details of their work. Here are some questions to ask.

WHAT IRRITATES YOU? Or your friends, colleagues, or family members? (Besides each other, of course.) Pay attention to the struggles around you, and you may just spot a trend. How else do you think the salad spinner came into this world?

WHAT TOOL FRUSTRATES YOU? If there’s a device that gives you grief (a seat belt, garden shears, or a smartphone case—anything), how could it work better?

WHERE DO YOU WASTE TIME? We all do it. Is there a device that could help you out of a specific time trap? 

WHAT SPACES NEED IMPROVEMENT? We spend our lives in environments made by fallible human beings. What would you do differently if you were redesigning your bathroom, kitchen, workplace, computer, or car? 

HOW COULD YOUR FUN BE MORE FUN? Don’t forget your hobbies. Could your roller skates have more ankle support, or the buttons on your video game controller stick less? Believe it or not, these problems matter to a lot of people. So be a hero and fix one.


user story is exactly what it sounds like: a short narrative written from the perspective of an imagined user that describes how that person works with your invention to achieve a goal. If your product were, say, a camera-equipped flying drone that can automatically follow you around and film your actions, one user story might go something like this: 

“As a professional surfer, I want to film myself riding waves so I can go back later, analyze my technique, and improve. I should be able to carry the camera on my board while I’m paddling out, toss it up in the air before I catch a wave, and then be able to easily replay what I just did once I get to shore.” 

Writing a user story—or several, in the likely case that your product will serve many needs—helps you articulate your hypotheses about how customers might experience your invention. Resist the urge to put off writing these narratives until after testing: Inventors are usually surprised by what inexperienced users do when they first encounter the prototype, and comparing the testing data with prewritten user stories is a great way to understand where your blind spots are. 

As for what’s lurking in those blind spots, be open to pleasant surprises. You may hear uses for your product that you’d never dreamed of—perhaps a wedding photographer who programs the drone to follow the bride around the dance floor, or a farmer who uses it to locate his herd on an expansive ranch. The more uses testers come up with, the greater your potential for market share.
  --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.

Product details

  • ASIN : B0759PC9C3
  • Publisher : Weldon Owen (January 10, 2017)
  • Publication date : January 10, 2017
  • Language : English
  • File size : 14572 KB
  • Text-to-Speech : Enabled
  • Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
  • X-Ray : Enabled
  • Word Wise : Enabled
  • Print length : 559 pages
  • Lending : Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 80 ratings

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4.0 out of 5 stars Not been read, exactly :)
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 1, 2019
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Mr Archibald Simpson
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice to look at and read but not a definitive guide.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 30, 2017
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Grazing Hippo
5.0 out of 5 stars Seriously good information presented in a relaxed style.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 18, 2017
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Andrew Wycherley
5.0 out of 5 stars A simple quick read... you just need to put the effort in to follow up your idea.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 19, 2018
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Luis Neto
3.0 out of 5 stars Take a look before you buy
Reviewed in Spain on May 25, 2018
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