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Online Research: Scoping Out Your Competition

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Do you have a book idea? Would you like to know what’s already published on your subject? You pretty much have to know this before you can write a book proposal. My book idea has been hanging around in the far reaches of my mind for a couple of years now. I’ve finally started researching what’s out there so that I can know if it’s worthwhile to pursue my idea. Here’s what I’ve done so far (and my results).

Search Amazon.com

First, I searched my prospective title, Write What You Know: Finding Stories in Everyday Life. Didn’t get much. Next, I shortened the title to Write What You Know. I got a long list of items with similar titles, but only one book with a similar title. See results here. Finally, I put my title in quotes “Write What You Know.” Using the quotation marks limits my results to phrases with those exact words. I got a list of several titles, but only one book could be considered current (and stock is low). See search results here.

Search Publisher’s Site

The one title I found is a Writer’s Digest book, so I went to their site. I searched my title and the ISBN number of the book on Amazon with no results at all. I have to assume that the book is out of print.

Google It

Next, I went to Google and search my original title, Write What You Know: Finding Stories in Everyday Life, with this result. I took a few minutes to browse the first few links, bookmarking the ones with content similar to what I have planned for my book. I searched again using “Write What You Know.” Results were a bit different this time. Again, I browsed the results and bookmarked new sites of interest.

What Next?

Now that I have determined that there are few books with the title I’ve planned, I will take some time to study my search results. It appears that the books that have been published on this topic apply to writing personal experience articles or adapting your experiences to fiction. My book will be a how-to for beginning article writers. It might even be a workbook before I’m done.

I’ll need to do more research by talking with publishing industry professionals and with people who teach writing. No doubt, there’s a lot of work left to do, but I’m off to a great start with what I’ve found online.

I invite comments on this blog. If you use other research methods, please share them by commenting. If you would like to write a guest post, please e-mail me at akinemily@gmail.com.

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