Using Research to Craft a Better Book

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 WestBow’s six-step guide to getting that research done!

1. Read

Magnifying glassIt’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.

– WBP –

WestBow 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 the WestBow Press Facebook page and follow the WestBow Press Twitter account @WestBowPress. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar, punctuation and length. 


Looking Back: Amy Sorrells and Canary Song

It’s easy to lose track when you’re writing a book, or when you’re working toward publishing it. Self-publishing is a journey. Sometimes you feel like you’re getting lost on that journey. We often find, when that happens, it helps to look at good examples of people who, whether they got lost along the way or not, found their way to their destination.

In 2013 we asked Amy Sorrells to write a blog post for us about the traditional publishing experience.

“To be honest,” she said then, “the editing process (which is finally winding down) has been the most difficult work my brain has ever done. Not awful, just difficult.”

Isn’t it when things get difficult that we find it’s easiest to get lost?

I thought I had a pretty good start, and I did – sort of. Then I had my first conversation with my editor (a very young, brilliant and cosmopolitan New Yorker) and learned the truth: my manuscript stank (stunk? Stinks!). It would require a near complete rewrite.

Wouldn’t that make you want to get lost? Doesn’t that sound terrible?

It does.

But Amy didn’t stop. She finished her edits and turned in her book and, so far, traditional publisher David C. Cook has released two of her books, Then Sings my Soul and How Sweet the Sound.

Your goals may be completely different from Amy’s goals, and your experience may never be like hers. But you reach the end of your publishing journey without staying on course.

Don’t give up.

– WBP –

WestBow 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 the WestBow Press Facebook page and follow the WestBow Press Twitter account @WestBowPress. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar, punctuation and length. To begin your self-publishing journey, get your free WestBow Press publishing guide today!

 


L.L. Martin: Positively Powerless

In this space, WestBow Press publishes articles written by our authors in which they share some aspect of their self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Laura Martin (L.L. Martin), author of “Positively Powerless.” For more info about Laura, check out her blog at “Enough Light.” To begin your self-publishing journey, get your free WestBow Press publishing guide today!

 

I’ve been an avid informal writer most of my life. I enjoy the old-fashioned hobby of postal letter writing, and I self-published a print newsletter. In recent years, I blog about Christianity. Several individuals encouraged me to write a Christian non-fiction book, but I was uncertain about the topic. Subjects that interested me had already been extensively published on, and SKU-001037112I did not have anything new or unique to add to the conversation.

However, I had long observed a number of weaknesses in modern American Christianity, which seemed connected by an underlying false optimism. I stumbled upon a book about the history of “positive thinking” in America and the idea for my own book was born. It is entitled: Positively Powerless, How a Forgotten Movement Undermined Christianity.

Some aspiring authors are certain about their book’s topic, but if you are uncertain, don’t despair. Pray about it, and keep writing informally. If it is meant to be, the idea will eventually present itself. Meanwhile, just keep writing and find your voice: journal, write letters, start a blog, leave thoughtful comments on the blog posts of others.

It is my opinion that writing a book is something you build up too. If you can’t write brief and informal things, how will you suddenly write something lengthy and formal? My informal writing paved the way. It turned out that I had already blogged about some of the topics that became a part of my book, and the puzzle pieces fit together nicely when I began to write it.

Informal writing will also hone your skills. Be open to critique about your writing ability. I consider writing both a natural talent and a learned skill. If you have been out of school for years, you may need a refresher course on grammar and syntax. IMG_0385Choppy writing can be a problem, and learning to form better sentences can help your ideas flow smoothly and appeal to the reader. Through informal writing, you can practice and perfect your skills before plunging into a book project.

Have you contemplated the idea of success for a distinctly Christian book? While we naturally want to sell books, numbers are not everything. I’d rather have my book get into the “right” hands – that is, those who will be spiritually helped and challenged by its message. As I researched my book, I was intrigued by how a forgotten movement from the late nineteenth century impacts us to this very day. Unfortunately, its influence weakened Christianity, and I hope to help Christians break free from hidden chains and be re-established in a God-centered life.

– WBP –

WestBow 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 the WestBow Press Facebook page and follow the WestBow Press Twitter account @WestBowPress. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar, punctuation and length. 


Powered by WordPress | Designed by Elegant Themes