Top 4 Research Tips for Nonfiction Authors
Nonfiction is all about authenticity. And where does authenticity come from? Research. Lots of research. Unless you have a lot of rich base material to work with, you might not be able to write a bestselling nonfiction book. Conducting in-depth research isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, though. If you are trying to write a nonfiction book but aren’t sure where to begin, we have shortlisted some research tips for you that can help you out. Let’s begin.
1. Dig Deep into a Variety of Sources
Depending on the topic you are focusing on, you will have a variety of sources at your disposal. It’s important you don’t limit yourself to one or two sources here and use as many sources as you can.
From reading books to surfing the Internet and conducting interviews, there are plenty of ways for you to gather information for your book. In particular, we recommend taking a walk-through libraries and exploring the archives. There’s a world of information out there. As you stumble upon new research and ideas, it can also broaden the scope of your book and serve as a great source of inspiration.
Remember, the more novel your findings are, the easier it will be to write a compelling book that grabs eyeballs.
2. Verify Your Sources
We also suggest verifying every source and tracing its origins to make sure it is authentic. Verification is particularly important for any information you find on the Internet. You’d be surprised how easy it can be to post just about anything these days without any sort of fact-checking.
You can consider using the CRAAP test to check the legitimacy of a source. The CRAAP test requires you to check for five things:
- Currency – The timeliness of the information.
- Relevancy – The importance of the information with respect to your topic.
- Authority – The source of the information and their credentials, qualifications, and contact information.
- Accuracy – The correctness of the information, whether it is supported by evidence and has been reviewed or verified by another source.
- Purpose – The reason the information exists (for e.g., it may be provided to inform, teach, entertain, sell, or persuade).
The CRAAP test helps you prioritize sources that are most relevant to your area of research. You can also focus more on verifiable sources such as first-person accounts, scientific studies, historical documents, etc. Besides this, you can filter out any information that has been supplied as a form of propaganda and is not based on facts.
3. Try to Conduct Front-Porch Research
Front-porch research refers to primary research. For instance, if you are writing a book on Central American history, it would help if you actually visited the area you are writing about. This travel component will lend authenticity to your writing that captures the nuances of the local culture and atmosphere.
From sounds to smells to colors and people, there is a world of details waiting for you. You can also hear rare accounts from residents about their experiences and learn about the stories and struggles of their ancestors. Listening to these stories also gives you a wide range of new ideas and adds more layers to the story you want to tell. Anything you find on the Internet will be a pale reflection in comparison.
4. Organize Your Research
Researching is a fun, exhausting, and enlightening process. It can also be time-consuming, though. You might start at point A and end up at point O, without remembering what you had in the beginning. It’s important that you organize all your research from the get-go to prevent this from happening.
You can create different folders (both on your computer and in real life) and distribute your research based on its importance and relevance to your nonfiction book. For example, all the information that forms the backbone of your book can go in folders A and B. In comparison, there will be stuff that is interesting but not useful. You can keep this in folder Z.
We also suggest adding cue cards to your research. Each cue card can carry notes and ideas on how you intend to use a particular piece of research. You can also mention why a specific bit of research is important to your book. This technique can help you remember the original inspiration or ideas you had when you first came across the information. It helps you stay on track and tell the story you want.
Strong research lies at the heart of every good nonfiction book. We hope these research tips prove helpful for your writing endeavors. If you need more help, Edit911 also provides nonfiction editing services. Our editors possess several years of experience in editing and proofreading and can help you edit your nonfiction book so that it’s ready for publishing! Get in touch with us today to find out more.