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How To Research Your Topic And Make Sure Your Information Is Valid
Now that youíve decided on a topic for your writing, itís time to do some research. Hopefully, youíve chosen a topic that you know something about. Itís much easier to write about something youíre familiar with or passionate about than it is something you havenít a clue about.
The first thing you should do is research how many books have already been published on the topic youíre considering. Go to Amazon.com and do a search. If the list is long, the topic is probably popular and as long as you put your own twist on the material, your book should be successful. If the list is short, it could be that no one is interested, but it also could be that no one has approached the topic from an interesting angle. Your best approach is to find an area or topic with a proven demand that you can put your own spin on or market in a new way. Read the comments people leave on similar books at Amazon.com. You may discover a need a previous author completely missed.
Next, Google your topic and see how many Web sites offer free information on your topic. This will give you a good idea of the kinds of information your customers are looking for. People often prefer to purchase a comprehensive collection of information on a particular topic rather than spend hours researching it themselves. The higher the rankings in Google, the more demand there is for that information.
Use a keyword tracker to explore how popular your chosen topic is. You may discover that your potential customers are thinking and talking about a topic differently than you had previously thought. For instance, a Virtual Assistant may assume that their potential clients will find them by doing a search for Virtual Assistants when in fact, most people have never heard nor do they use the term Virtual Assistant. A keyword search may reveal that potential clients are searching for off-site secretaries, or independent office workers, or who knows. But you need to know Ė so youíre using the right words to get your book in front of your target audience.
Go to your local library and check out some books and magazines on the subject. I know the library Ė so old school Ė but regardless of the advances in technology Ė itís still a fundamental place to learn, grow and research! If your library doesnít have the books youíre looking for, they can usually get them through an inter-library loan program. Read other books on your topic with a researcherís eye. Are there questions the author leaves unanswered? How can you expand on or better explain the topic? Is there just something missing? If you have a university library near you, be sure to visit them. They often have dissertations or theses that can add to the credibility of your book.
Depending on your topic, your local museum or historical society may also have information you could use in preparing your book. These institutions often hold private collections that may prove invaluable to your research. Your local newspaper office is also an excellent resource for archival materials.
Web research demands a skeptical eye. As far as information goes, the Internet is an unregulated arena full of wannabe experts who often express and perpetuate absurd misconceptions. Check your facts and make sure you have or can find the evidence to back up any statements you take from the Internet.
When you approach your research with a critical eye and validate statements with evidence, you are writing wisely.
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