Write Your Book



a number-one best-selling author, success and book coach, and speaker on a mission to help leaders use the power of writing to uncover their unique stories so they can scale their impact.

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How to Do Book Research

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I'm a number-one best-selling author, success and book coach, and speaker on a mission to help leaders use the power of writing to uncover their unique stories so they can scale their impact.

Hi, I'm Stacy

This week’s post comes from the wonderful Kim Foster, a writer and editor on my team—and a friend. In this piece, she shares practical tips on how to do book research, which are pulled from a podcast episode I did on the same topic.

Have something to add? Have a question? Let us know in the comments! I read and respond to each one and love hearing from you.

You dream of writing a book that will impact readers. Your message is thoughtful and has the potential to make a difference. To add to your credibility and the value of your message, you decide to include research, but you aren’t sure where to begin. So much information is out there, and it can be overwhelming to sift through. Where do you begin?

In her podcast episode “How to Do Book Research,” Stacy Ennis presents wonderful research tips that can help with writing a nonfiction book. These tips can even help you prepare for other opportunities, like keynotes, podcasts, articles, or presentations. Bringing in relevant research adds depth to your topic, shows your audience you’ve done your due diligence, and communicates you can be trusted.

There are different types of research to pull your information from, but first you’ll want to think about the purpose and tone of your book. You may wish to highlight data from case studies or reports. If you’re writing a business book and want to integrate client stories, you’ll need to draw a lot of information from interviews. It’s important to note that the goal of all research is to get to the primary source.

Data-based sources

Google Scholar is where you can look for journal articles, most of which are free to access. When evaluating an article, review the abstract and conclusion. These will give insights into how well they will complement your theme. You can also glean from the abstract if there are any red flags that indicate potential bias: the article wasn’t peer-reviewed, the size of the study was very limited, or it wasn’t a double-blind study. Check also to see who funded the study to see if there could be ethical issues or a conflict of interest.

Use the regular Google search engine to see what others are saying about your topic. Find articles that highlight a study you want to use. Check what their references are and use those as a catalyst for locating more sources. This is a great way to find research you may miss otherwise. For example, you might find an article in a publication like Psychology Today about a study—click through to read and reference the original study, rather than relying on a secondhand source.


Interviews bring in firsthand experience. To help with transcriptions, here are a couple of resources to consider:

  • is an excellent tool if you’re working with a shorter form.
  • If working with a larger manuscript, CLK Transcription has a history of quality transcriptions.

You need to get permission from people if you’re going to use their name and tell their stories. (Check with a legal advisor to get more information.) Listen to Stacy’s podcast episode, “Copyright and Intellectual Property 101 for Writers with Attorney Brad Frazer” for insights on attributing sources.

After you’ve written about the subject in your book, send a copy of the section that includes the interviewee’s information for their blessing, but be sure to give them specific instructions to correct only typos. If you leave it too open ended, they will return the draft with lots of edits that don’t fit with your book.

Writing strategies

Authors often feel they need to have all their research done before sitting down to write, creating delay after delay. As Stacy says in her podcast, it is very important to keep momentum going. Once you’re in the flow of writing, interrupting your creative flow for long stretches to research or scheduling out interviews over several weeks or months can hinder the writing process. But if you’re strategic about your approach, you can take the overwhelm out. For example, set a one- to two-week window for initial interviews, and then set up second interviews later on, when you’re revising the draft and know what additional details you need.

When Stacy maps out a book, she sets aside writing time for each chapter—let’s say two weeks. She devotes the last day of the second week to filling in the gaps by gathering the research she needs. Knowing this time is set aside to accomplish the extra research frees up the space to create because it’s factored into her timeline. She also fills in as much information as she can from interviews and leaves a marker in the text where she needs to add more research.

This strategy effectively minimizes any holes in the content, which is crucial to the end game of writing a book. Because you’re addressing the gaps along the way, you won’t have a massive overhaul to do when you finish your first draft. You will have effectively addressed those needed data points and will be mentally and emotionally prepared for the next draft.

There are some instances when you may not be able to fully insert the final data you need. If you’re writing about an industry that relies on current data, like the financial industry or real estate, look up the statistics you need, but highlight the text as a reminder to double-check before sending your manuscript to the publisher. If you have a gap of six months to a year before publishing, chances are those statistics will have been updated several times, and you will need to adjust as close as possible to your publication date.

Whatever type of research you decide to use, pull out the story and convey it to your reader. Even numbers tell a story. If you step back from the details and look at the broader picture of what numbers or statistics are saying, you can translate that into a compelling story. You’re shaping that narrative from the data and showing your reader its impact.

By creating a foundation of quality research, you will establish credibility as an author and give yourself solid footing to present your book to the world. And once you build your connection through trust with your reader, you will expand your influence.

If you would like to hear Stacy discuss the importance of research, check out her podcast this article is based on: How to Do Book Research.”

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