7 Tips to Help You Do Research for Your History Book

It's January and that means you're in full swing with your book idea. This is the year you're going to get it done, submit it to a publisher and get published!

Well, not really - if you haven't started writing yet, the likelihood of being published this year is slim as the process is a long one! But not to worry - we're in no rush. First things first, let's look at seven ways you can do research for your book.

1. Start with an outline

This might seem like the obvious place to start, but every book should start with an outline. Getting the basics of what you want to write and in what order is going to help you figure out where you need to go to research each step of the way. An outline can be as basic as chapter titles or as detailed as a full worksheet with titles, chapter breakdowns, lists of names and places. This is your process so do what feels right to you!

2. Think about your sources

Before you jump in headfirst and start reaching out to sources and scouring the Internet for information - sit down with your outline and think about where each chapter or topic might come from. Might there be an expert on the topic that you know of? Perhaps the local historical society would have information you could use. Or the local library might have a historical section. You might even check the newspaper archives. List these potential sources next to each point in your outline so you have a starting point for each topic.

3. Gather Information

Now it's go time! Visit those places that you listed above and start scouring for information on your chosen topic. Take your time with this process. You will likely need multiple days at each location. If you rush, you might miss something that could be vital to the validity of your book.

4. Take Notes

Take notes, write down every detail you uncover and where you found it. Even if you're unsure as to whether you'll use that information in your book - take note of it anyway. You never know what useful bit of information might come up or be necessary later on in your writing process!

5. Ask for permission

Some sources might require formal permission. While you're researching - go ahead and request that permission. Get it in writing and save it, so if you do end up using that source, you have the permissions ready to go. Your publisher may opt to follow up on those permissions just to make sure we're all following the rules and having it handy will be exceptionally helpful.

6. Expand Your Outline

The next step in the process is to take your outline that you have already drafted and expand upon it. Break down each chapter into sub-chapters, and topics. Get a flow for the storyline and add in sources and quotes where necessary.

7. Keep Your Citations

You might remember from school to cite your sources - teachers loved to hammer that home so it stuck! Keep a running list of citations on a separate sheet of paper (or Word document if you're doing this in modern times on a computer). Keep the citations in the order that they appear in the book so that they're easy to find later.

Bonus tip

One last tip before you begin, is to keep a folder of all of your documents. Whether this is a physical folder or a digital one, make sure to keep everything in one place and labeled accordingly.

Good luck with your research! We can't wait to see what you come up with. And if you've written your book and want to submit it, you can do so here: https://www.arcadiapublishing.com/pages/make-me-an-author