Writing a Book: Starting the Research

Oct 17, 2017 | Writing A Book

Getting ready to write a book? Great! Here are some research tips that will help you make your book the best it can be.

Dump Your Brain

We like to think that we start a research project with facts, but we don’t. What we start with are opinions, ideas, and experiences. You need to get them out of your head so you can move them around, see how they relate to each other, and allow them to spark other ideas. Take a few days to squeeze your brain really hard and make sure you’ve got everything out of it that you can.

Capture Your Good Ideas

When you’re working on a book project, ideas will pop into your head without waiting for permission. Those ideas are like butterflies on the wind. If you don’t capture them right away, they’ll fly off and never be seen again.

There are two ways to capture ideas. Write them down or record them in an audio file. The situation will dictate which method you use when. If you’re sitting in church listening to a boring sermon and get an idea, you won’t be able to make an audio recording, you’ll have to write. On the other hand, if you’re driving or walking, you may not be able to write, but you can certainly make a quick audio recording. Here’s a link to a post about the tools that I use to capture ideas.

Mine Your Network

A good basic research rule is that you use people to find information and information to find people. Make a list of people you can contact to ask about the subject or to help identify other experts. Sometimes they won’t be able to help you, but they will point you to people who can.

Learn to Love Amazon

Amazon is a giant search engine for books, which means it’s also a giant search engine for authors and experts. Search for the keywords you think people will use looking for your book. Identify the key books and authors, but don’t stop there. Read the reviews of important books. You’re likely to find experts who haven’t written books themselves. Take your list of authors and experts and do a few Google searches to see if they’ve written any important articles.

Discover Google Scholar

Stanford professor and author Bob Sutton says that “Google Scholar is a specialized search engine for scholarly books and articles; it’s become the gold standard that academics use to find rigorous theory and research.”

There’s no need to let the academics have all the fun. Use Google Scholar to find solid research that will make your book more valuable.

When you use Google Scholar, pay attention to the way Google auto-fills some of your search queries. You may get ideas for different queries. And, you’ll notice that at the bottom of every search page, there’s a list of other searches on related topics. They may give you some ideas, too.

Do Original Research

You’ll find lots of good material that other people have developed and that ought to be in your book. Just remember that anybody can copy other people’s work. To make your book more valuable and distinctive, and to set yourself apart as an expert, you need to do some original research.

It’s easy to use the net to do surveys that add richness to your observations. Interview the experts you identify, too. I suggest using a service like Uberconference to record your interviews. Then have them transcribed. Here’s a link to a service I use.

There’s a bonus to interviewing that many of my clients don’t think about. The people you interview are likely to be people who will be credible expert endorsers of your book. Be sure to ask them if they would like to see the book when it’s done.

Bottom Line

The best business books make important points and are filled with valuable research and insights. Squeeze your brain to get everything out of it that you can and mine your network for experts and pointers for information. Learn to love Amazon and Google Scholar, and some original research, too.

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