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Before You Pick Up Your Pen

By Ginger Marks

Writing your next great novel or self-help book is an exciting, yet daunting, endeavor. Will your readership find it entertaining or informative? Will they be interested enough to purchase your book? Even better, will they tell their friends and colleagues that they just have to read your new work? All of these questions should be running through your mind, because, if you haven’t considered these questions, you may end up finding that there isn’t a sufficient audience for your book.

Where should you begin then? After you have your idea and maybe even an initial outline, you should take the time to investigate the answers to these questions and more.

Begin by looking at other works in your genre

Is there already a saturated market or is there a real need for your work?

Tip: Besides finding out if there is indeed a market for your book, you might take the time to notice the average page count, publication dates, and prices of books in your genre. And you might even pick up some new ideas for your own book.

Just the facts

Another thing you might want to explore is facts and details you might want to include that would make your work more accurate or give credibility to what you are sharing. In a novel, writing that your protagonist’s plane landed at the airport is just plain boring. Giving additional details, like what the weather was like, what airport, their runway number etc., will further enhance your offering.

In a self-help book, citing experts in your field who agree with your ideas will give credibility to your words. Ask yourself what evidence a reader needs in order to believe your arguments are credible and trustworthy? Nevertheless, don’t go overboard here, add just enough to be useful, but don’t try to add every piece of information you find. Look for professionals in your local community who have the information you want to include. Ask them to share a quote that you could add to your work. Who knows, maybe someone you cite in your work would be willing to write a forward for your book. How cool would that be, eh?

Tucker Mas, in his article “How to Conduct Research for Your Book: 9 Tips that work”[1] offers the following examples.

If you’re giving medical advice for other experts, you’ll likely want to substantiate it with peer-reviewed, professional sources.

If you’re explaining how to grow a company, you might refer to statistics from your own company or recount specific anecdotes about other successful companies.

If you’re writing a memoir, you won’t need any quantitative data. You might simply talk with people from your past to fill in some gaps or use sources like Wikipedia to gather basic facts.

See how I did that? That’s exactly what you too can do to give your book credibility. This will take time and effort, but the amount of credibility it gives your work is well worth every minute spent.


Surveys are great research tools. With them, you can figure out the demographic for your book, a preferred title or cover image, and much more. There are several survey tools you could use. The most popular is SurveyMonkey. It’s easy to use and offers a free version.

Know when to stop researching

It’s possible to continue researching forever. Countless book ideas remain unwritten and unpublished because the writer is searching for that perfect piece of information to include. Therefore, you not only need to know when to start researching, but when to stop, because it’s possible you’ll never publish your book if you don’t!

This brings up an extremely important point. Ideally, authors should have personal experience regarding the subject matter in their books. This will be appreciated by knowledgeable readers for its realism, while the uninformed would finish a bit more informed.


[1] Max, Tucker How To Conduct Research For Your Book: 9 Tips That Work, Last accessed: March 9, 2021. 

Ginger Marks is the founder of DocUmeant, a family of publishing and design companies. She is the author of Complete Library of Entrepreneurial Wisdom; an annual edition eBook, Weird & Wacky Holiday Marketing Guide available through Amazon; Presentational Skills for the Next Generation; and also offers insight into marketing, design, and publishing solutions through her ezine, Words of Wisdom, available through her websites. For more information, visit DocUmeant Publishing.

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