Tagguide

Research and the New Writer: Don’t Overthink It

One of the major stumbling blocks I see new writers trip over is research. On writing forums you’ll see variations of these three questions being asked:

  • How should I organize the information I already have?
  • How do I perform research?
  • How do I know when I need to do it?

The answers are as diverse as literature genres, the first point especially so. Since we all think and organize differently, even if you start out mimicking someone’s method, you will eventually tweak it to fit your own habits. Some writers keep large files, while others just keep a running sheet of notes. I personally keep a large file [My file for Atlantis: TVC is so large I indexed it. Fourteen pages of characters, world building, and magic.], and a ton of super-organized bookmarks in my browser. But that’s just me. As I said, how you arrange it is best done in a way that accommodates you. If having individual files for each topic/chapter/character/place is how you roll, then who am I to say it’s wrong?

That’s not the part everyone seems to get hung up on, though. How to do it seems to be the most difficult aspect of research for new writers. It may come as a surprise, but that is the easiest part!

The information of the world is available at instantaneous speeds due to the internet–information just sitting on a server somewhere waiting to be accessed, or even a lone stranger on a backwater forum waiting for you to ask the question that will prompt them to shower you with the data you need–all of it is just a click away. When they ask how to do it, either they are admitting that they don’t know how to use a search engine, or that they really don’t know what they need.

That’s the difficult part. You’re told that you need to research, research, research! But what do you look up? It feels like you’ve purchased a new dresser, opened the box, spread out the pieces, then realized that it didn’t come with directions. It’s overwhelming, but I have good news: the answer is to stop.

That’s right. Stop looking. Instead, write. Whether it’s notes, an outline, or your actual manuscript, getting things out of your head and on to paper will lead you in the right direction.

I can’t tell you how often I will stop writing to find more information on something–the proper name of a weapon, a picture of a poisonous plant, how horses act when they are scared, etc.  Depending on the answers you find, you can end up in a several hours-long sinkhole of data that changes the direction of the plot. [Personal experience.] You’ll just be typing away and stumble over something that you need to know more about. Then you search for it. That’s all there is to it. There is no magic formula, or list of topics anyone can point you at, because everyone writes different things. [Unless it’s a technical question, like grammar, or formatting; if you need help with that, I have a wonderful Resource List you should take a peek at!]

Basically, if you’re hung up on research, you’re trying too hard. Your heart is in the right place, but you can’t look for the answer to a question that hasn’t been asked. The beautiful part of writing is that the questions that need to be asked will find youand possibly land you on some government watch list depending on your subject.

Self-Publishing Resource List

This is a list of resources helpful to first time self-publishers. Veteran self-pubs may find a new resource or two here as well! 

Note: Anything that does not have a free, non-trial version will have a strike through the title it to denote that it is a resource that must be paid for to use.

 Last Updated on 02/25/2019

Word Processing

Write your book with these programs!

OpenOffice

LibreOffice

Google Docs

Scrivner

Editing

These are all paid services, with varying price points and packages.

The Editorial Freelancers Association

First Editing

Edit 911

Createspace

Book-Editing.com

Standout Books

Mechanics & Grammar

Great for when you can’t remember a rule, or if you need to learn a new one.

The Chicago Manual of Style Online

The Chicago Manual of Style Q&A

The Punctuation Guide

TIO: How to Punctuate Dialogue

Purdue OWL

Grammarly

Blogging Platforms

Most are free to start, but have paid options with more benefits, such as a unique domain name and no ads.

WordPress

Blogger

Tumblr

Typepad

Fonts

All sources provide free fonts that are available for commercial and private use, unless otherwise indicated.

FontSquirrel

Google Fonts

Art & Graphic Design

These are the places you’ll go to commission illustrations, and/or a cover for your work. They are free to browse, but the artists here will charge a fee for you to commission them.

DeviantArt

Fiverr

TenBux

Behance

Etsy

Stock Photos

Use these for your cover, website, or for promotional materials. Please read and follow the attribution and usage rules, as they vary from site to site–and sometimes from image to image.

Shutterstock

Adobe Stock Photos

iStockPhoto

Dreamstime

CanStockPhoto

Free Images

[Note: User Account needed to download free images]

Pixabay

[Note: User Account needed to download full resolution images]

Public Domain Archive

Unsplash

Pexels

Conversion

Turn your saved, edited document into an e-book.

Calibre

Online EBook Converter

To EPub

EBook Convertor

Format Checking

In lieu of these you can also download a copy of your e-book to a smartphone or eReader to view it on a native device, if you own one.

Adobe Digital Editions

Kindle Reading App

EPUB Validator

Self-Publishing Platforms

Most are free but have paid options with more features, such as designers and technicians on call to assist you any time. These companies will distribute your book to all major retailers on your behalf as long as it passes their quality test.

Amazon KDP

[Note: Only distributes to Amazon. Can be Exclusive with enrollment in KDP Select.]

Smashwords

[Note: Does not distribute to Amazon at this time]

Bookbaby

Draft2Digital

Wattpad

Mibba

Promotion

A good portion of these links are to social media sites. Social Media is a large aspect of book promotion nowadays, and utilizing every resource you can is important!

MailChimp Mailing Lists

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

[Note: You can only register for an account and post from the app.]

Goodreads

BookBub

eReader News Today

The Book Promoter

Search Engine Optimization Guide [SEO]

Writing Discussions & Communities

Talk about writing with other writers!

Nanowrimo Forums

WritingForums.com

Writer’s Digest

Scribeophile

Creative Writing Forums

Writer’s Cafe

Mibba Forums

Figment

Fiction Post

Writing

Fantasy Writers

Light Novel Specific Resources

Sadly, there are very few right now. I will update this as I discover more!

Royalroad

[Similar to Wattpad, but for web fiction.]

Novel Translations

[A place to find and discuss all manner of Light Novel.]

So You Want to Write Your Own Light Novel?

[My own guide to writing a Light Novel!]

~End of List~