How to Write Your Best Book: Part Two (Research)

It doesn’t matter how good your idea is or how interesting the message. If you haven’t done your research, your writing will lack the credibility it deserves.

How to Write Your Best Book: Part Two

How far would you travel to conduct an interview for your book? To what lengths would you go in order to secure a source for your writing? Is research necessary even when you’re doing creative writing?

This week on The Portfolio Life, Marion Roach Smith and I continue the How to Write Your Best Book series with Part Two in which we address these questions and more. In this part, we focus on the topic of research and why it’s essential to do your best writing.

Listen in as we discuss some surprising research methods, what ocean Marion crossed to interview an expert, and why she recommends putting down the keyboard and picking up the phone. All these tips and more influenced the work behind my latest book Real Artists Don’t Starve.

Listen to the podcast

To listen to the show, click the player below (If you’re reading this via email, please click here).

Show highlights

In this episode, Marion and I discuss:

  • Looking for holes to build on what other people have written
  • Saying something unique that contributes to the arena
  • How to use studies and bibliographies to dig deeper
  • The danger of accidentally building a straw man argument
  • Surprising results from picking up the phone
  • Scripts for building rapport with industry experts
  • Why to avoid referencing celebrities
  • The one word no one has ever said to Marion
  • How to find interesting sources and connect with them
  • The difference between an Internet writer and one who does real research.
  • Which characteristic of a city gets Marion on the plane to interview someone
  • When to call, email, or Skype a lead versus flying to meet them
  • Why remaining vague is a strategic move
  • A narrative trick that instantly bestows your writing with “street cred”

Quotes and takeaways

  • “Repurposing the famous is not going to cut it.” –Marion Roach Smith
  • “Every fact, every interview, should heighten and add to the argument.” –Marion Roach Smith
  • “Live quotes are always better than repurposed quotes.” –Marion Roach Smith
  • “There are no tricks to reaching out.” –Marion Roach Smith
  • It’s easy to assume “no” for someone else and avoid asking them your question.
  • Never research a piece starting from an intent to prove something. Research to discover the truth.
  • “Make sure you have one whacky, off-the-wall question.” –Marion Roach Smith

How do you get top experts to respond to you? You ASK them.

Marion Roach Smith

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What did you last discover while conducting research? Where have you traveled to interview a source? Share in the comments