Research is a must for self-published authors because it shows that you are informed and knowledgeable on a topic, and it gives you instant credibility with potential readers. Don’t think that research is only necessary for nonfiction authors; fiction writers can benefit from doing their homework, too!
The good news is that when you are writing about a subject that you’re passionate about, researching can be fun and rewarding. Today we present our six-step guide to getting that research done!
It’s a cliché that good readers make good writers, but it’s a cliché for a reason. Immersing yourself in your topic (or genre) will inspire you to write your own book. Plus, surveying what books are out there can help you write a book that fills (not falls into) the gaps in the marketplace.
2. Let the Research Lead You
As you’re delving into your topic, the information you find might surprise you. Don’t ignore this; take advantage of the opportunity, and follow the research to its natural conclusion. Keeping your mind open will help you produce a more well-rounded book, even if it’s not the book you originally envisioned writing.
3. Make Notes
Write down anything and everything (including the source and location) that you may want to include in your book. This will save you time as you write, and help you cite the information accurately. Remember to always credit the original source when using another author’s ideas or information, whether a statistic, theory, song lyric or quote.
4. Walk a Mile…
…in someone else’s shoes. Arrange to spend time with people who fit the profile of your characters so that you have a better idea of how they talk and work, their mannerisms, what their environment is like, and so on. Be willing to get out of your comfort zone and use all of your senses to record information. This will help you create believable characters and establish authentic settings in your book.
5. Ask the Experts
Don’t merely rely on books and journals for your research. Journalists talk directly with experts to get the information they need for news articles, and an author’s approach should be no different. Not sure where to find an expert on your topic? Start with a library or university. Whatever you do, don’t rely solely on unverified Internet research.
6. Know Your Audience
Decide for whom you are writing your book and find out as much as you can about this group of people. Immerse yourself in the communities and activities of your potential readers, either in person and on the web (online forums, for example), in order to get a clear picture of the people you are writing for.
Balboa Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books are invited to do so by sending a message through our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BalboaPress, by tweeting us @BalboaPress, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We may not be able to use every story, but we will read and consider them. Balboa Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar, and punctuation accuracy; as well as for space.