6 Simple Steps to Craft an Effective Research Strategy for Your Self-Help, How-To or Business Book

Research is an essential component of developing a nonfiction manuscript. Some writers embrace the process, while others find it challenging. Research doesn’t need to be difficult if you design an effective, organized system and create a plan of approach.

Here are 6 simple steps to craft an effective research strategy for your book:

1. Write a mission statement. A mission statement or thesis statement about your book helps focus your project and keep your research on track.  Write a single sentence that asserts the main idea and expresses your point of view.  In other words, write a statement that declares what you and your research have to say about the subject. 

2. Determine what research is needed. What content do you need to include to demonstrate or prove the compelling idea that is not directly available from you?

3. Decide what type of research you will conduct. Most writers use more than one method. The basic types of research are:

  • Reviewing source material: books, private documents, and photos.
  • Interviewing: in-person, telephone or email interviews, questionnaires or surveys.
  • Observation: first hand experiences.
  • Deductive reasoning: using the previously mentioned methods of research and “connecting the dots” to formulate a conclusion.

    4. List the resources you will use for your research, such as:

    • Published books
    • Unpublished manuscripts
    • Letters
    • Photographs
    • Artwork
    • Diaries
    • Private documents
    • Corporate memos
    • Public records
    • Court transcripts
    • Surveys
    • Questionnaires
    • Interviews
    • Films
    • Documentaries
    • Statistics
    • Press releases
    • Business leaders
    • Association newsletters
    • Magazines
    • Newspapers
    • Maps
    • Charts
    • Investigators
    • Experts
    • Scholars
    • Associates
    • Stories from “ordinary” people
    • Personal experience

    5. Create a research timeline
    . Use a calendaring system to plan research, schedule interviews, and note deadlines. Writers who set deadlines are more likely to finish a project. Use the calendar system that works best for you to stay on track and complete your research.

    6. Create your bibliography in-progress. Create your bibliography as-you-go (during the research process). This can save you time and future headaches. Note each citation now (source, copyright date, publisher’s name, etc.) to avoid having to later search for the information you’re collecting.

    (To help you create your research strategy, you can also use the “Research Strategy Template” included in the Expert Author Workbook.)