How to Research for a Non-Fiction Book1

How to Research for a Non-Fiction Book

Every author has a different process for writing a book. Some people write the entire thing in one sitting, while others take their time and research extensively before they even put pen to paper.
What is the one thing that all writers of non-fiction books have to do? Research! It’s true, yet it can be the most challenging part of writing a book. You might think that you know how to research, but these tips and tricks will help you get the information you need to write your book more effectively. In this article, we’ll share some ways to make researching a non-fiction book easier so that you can spend more time writing instead.

Table of Contents

What is Non-fiction?

Non-fiction is not just any type of writing; it’s prose and fact-based. In contrast to poetry or short stories, the difference with this genre is that they provide information on specific issues rather than telling fictional tales about imaginary worlds where anything could happen!

What are some examples of non-fiction writing?

  • reviews
  • letters
  • diaries
  • newspaper articles
  • information leaflets
  • magazine articles

Why do authors write non-fiction?

They could want to inform the world about specific topics. For example, they might have a passion for environmental conservation and wish to share their knowledge with others. Perhaps it is an excellent opportunity to learn more about a significant event in our history! Maybe you have specialized in marine biology and want to share your experiences with others interested in this topic.

Why You Should Research For A Non-Fiction Story

The purpose of a book is to convey an idea or educate the reader, and you must have enough material and information to do this–otherwise, you risk confusing the reader. When writing non-fiction books, the research behind the text must be accurate and complete so that any errors in understanding aren’t due to a lack of knowledge on your part.

Before starting the process, consider a few things about what you want to write: Your reputation and credibility depend on your readers trusting you. So the accuracy of your research is key to building a solid case in your favour.

Do you have the authority and knowledge needed for writing your book? You must ask this question because if not, then that’s another reason readers may discredit what you are saying!

What does the reader already know about the topic of interest? The more they know when starting to read your book, the easier it will be to understand what you are writing about.

How much do they need to know? This may seem silly at first glance–but think carefully about this before starting your research! If too little information is required, you’re wasting precious time and energy on something that won’t need to be written about.

Be sure that you’re able to answer all these questions before starting your research for a non-fiction book. If the answers are not clear, then it’s time to do some more thinking and planning–which can lead to more revisions or even scrapping an idea entirely! As long as the knowledge you have is easily transferred and understood by your readers, then you’ll do fine.

Writing a non-fiction book takes time–and so does research for it! But with the right questions in mind before starting to research, this will make things much easier down the road. Keep these tips in mind when planning out what you want to write about or how you want to write it!

Journalistic Research

Journalistic research strives to be both comprehensive and accurate. The idea is that each individual report can present all sides of an issue while also understanding the limitations associated with what cannot yet be said. It can be due to its incompleteness or one particular point-of-view being more accessible than others at any given time (availability bias).

Journalism research is a long and sometimes tedious process. Understanding the subject material and fitting it into the bigger picture of news writing or feature stories is essential.

One major part of journalism research is knowing what you are looking for in your sources and understanding if they’re credible enough to use. This is a practical kind of research because it keeps the facts straight and avoids going back over old topics.

Before getting started with any kind of journalism research, you must ask yourself why are you doing it? What is your purpose for looking up this information? Think about this before starting out because it may change what sources or places you end up using for material!

Many different types of research can be done for journalism, but interviews and finding reliable sources are the most common. It is paramount to understand what kinds of questions you’re asking in an interview because they will determine how valuable your source is–and whether or not your article is deserving of being printed!

Journalism research requires more than just looking up facts and ideas online. You must also know how to ask the right questions that will lead you down a path full of helpful information for your writing!

Types Of Non-Fiction Research

There are many types of non-fiction research, including interviews, surveys, and finding reliable sources. It is essential to understand what types of questions you’re asking in an interview because they will determine how valuable your source is–and whether or not your article is deserving of being printed!

Note- Taking Etiquette For Research

Note-taking is one of the most critical parts of any kind of research. If you don’t write down what you’re learning, then it’s most likely going to be forgotten! This can lead to wasting time and having to go back over topics multiple times, which will make your writing process take longer than necessary.

It does not matter how you take your notes when doing research–as long as you’re writing things down! The most crucial part is that the facts are easily understood and remembered.

Taking thorough notes will help keep your information organized in a way that makes sense to you while also allowing for a more effortless transfer of knowledge between yourself and somebody else reading what has been written.

It is best to use a digital note-taking program or device, as this will make things easier for you down the road when transferring information into your writing.

Every writer has their own note-taking style! There’s no right way to do it–just find what works for you and go with that until something else comes along that proves to be more effective.

Note-taking is a great habit to get into, as it will make your research process more accessible and allow you to focus on the key topics being discussed! For example, if somebody asks what colour something was in an interview and there’s no note about it–you may forget or lose track of its importance to the article.

The main point is that you are writing down what’s being said and keeping it organized so there aren’t any misunderstandings later on! This will help keep your research process and articles better organized and easier for readers to understand.

How Much Should You Research?

If you are doing a news article, your research should be extensive enough to understand the topic well and keep track of all critical factors related to it–such as who knows what about it or how long something has been going on. This will give readers a better understanding of why the story is being written in the first place!

For example, if you are writing an article about how much snow falls in Alaska each year–you would have to look up the average amount of rainfall that typically occurs there during this time too. This is because it may be less snowy than usual due to global warming and other weather patterns taking effect worldwide.

For non-fiction, research should be done so that all of the facts and information presented are easily understood by readers. These books can often go deeper into topics than news articles do–and therefore require extensive amounts of knowledge on different subjects to understand everything fully!

In other words, your research process for these kinds of publications requires more time, effort and attention to detail than news articles do. You mustn’t rush this process or take shortcuts because it can lead to more mistakes and, therefore, have to go back into the writing multiple times! This will only cause your writing speed to slow down even further.

The main point is that research should be done most beneficially for the article itself. There are different kinds of research methods to use when writing non-fiction books–and it’s vital to pick the one that makes the most sense for what you’re trying to achieve with your book!

For example, if you want readers to understand something, give them an example! If you’re going to provide detailed information, then cite relevant sources–and if you want readers to remember something or learn it quickly, write down the most critical facts in a way that makes sense.

Make Research Plan

If you are writing a non-fiction book, it is vital to make a research plan before beginning the learning process. This kind of planning will help keep things more organized and prepared for when writing takes place, which can be very difficult if no prior organization or guidance is put into play!

Your plan should include the number of chapters in the book, what each chapter is about and the amount of research necessary. It’s also helpful if you make a list of all resources that will need to be used along with where they can be found–so there isn’t any wasted time looking them up later on!

The main point is that research should be done to be used when writing takes place. This will help keep the process more straightforward and allow you to focus on the important topics being discussed! For example, if somebody asks what colour something was in an interview and there’s no note about it–you may forget or confuse this information with something else later on because it wasn’t written down.

Write Outline for Chapters

Research should also be done to create an outline for each chapter–which is essentially a list of all points or arguments to make in order! This will help keep your ideas organized and ensure that everything flows well between topics throughout the book!

For example, if you were writing a book about the history of the United States–you would have to research what happened first and how it all led up to where we are now. This is so that each point can be explained in complete detail and lead into whatever comes next within your outline. If not, there might be gaps or facts that don’t make sense–which should always be avoided when writing non-fiction books!

In other words, the process of creating an outline can keep you from leaving out anything important. If a point is missing, then it means there’s not enough information to support this idea or topic being discussed within your book.

Make Use of Libraries

Most libraries have a section dedicated to non-fiction books–and these are the ones you should be looking at! This includes history, science and more.

For example, let’s say you wanted to write about how new technology was created over time. You would research different types of inventions or discoveries within this category to put it all into your book.

This is helpful because it can give you an idea of what’s most essential and where you should go next with your book! Libraries also have books written by professional writers or scientists, providing more insight into particular topics or arguments being made.

The main point is that libraries are a great resource to research non-fiction books! They offer many books on the same topics and make it easy to find sources that can help create an outline later.

Make Use of Search Engines

This is another way to take complete control of your writing process when researching non-fiction books. Search engines are beneficial tools in finding relevant information–and this can speed up the learning and research processes by a lot! This means there’s less time spent digging around trying to find what you need because it can all be found using search engines!

For example, if you were writing a book about the history of baseball, then it would make sense to use Google or other similar websites because they are known for having important information on this subject. These websites know what types of topics people want to read more about–and therefore make it easier to find what’s already been written about the subject.

Old School Research Vs New School

The most popular and well-known method of doing this is old-school reading! This involves going into libraries or buying books from stores–and then taking the time to read them all to gather information about what you need/want to know.

While this is a very effective learning method–it can also be exhausting. Luckily, there are now new school methods of research being offered by search engines! For example, Google provides us with great information on just about every subject there is–and this can make the process of learning or writing about it much more manageable.

The New School method of research involves conducting polls on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, conducting surveys with tools such as Google Forms or your website, amongst other methods. 

Luckily, the two can co-exist–and they often do when writing non-fiction books. Each one has its own benefits and can keep the learning and research processes as painless as possible!


Now that you know how to research a book, you can start writing it! The best way is to write the draft of your book by hand. Once done, use an editing program like Microsoft Word or Pages and then work with an editor to make sure everything flows smoothly together. You’ll be surprised how easy this process becomes once all the pieces are laid out ahead of time.