OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn
As a reader, I love to learn something new in a book. As a writer, I am a research junkie!
I'm obsessed with learning about new places, different ways of looking at the world and scouring sources for little tidbits that can bring my story alive.
As well as enriching your writing, your research can also function as extra content that your readers will love. Plus, it can also be a great marketing tool, drawing people to check out the book.
So here's some of the ways you can share your research with your readers:
(1) Use an Author's Note at the back of the book
My favorite thriller author James Rollins uses this trick and it's what inspired me to do the same. I include the details of what is real and what is fictionalized, as well as some of the books and places I researched. This is usually just a page or two at the back, and sometimes I link back to more information on my fiction site JFPenn.com. This is a great way to get people to go to your website for more information, and hopefully to sign up for your mailing list. [You do have a mailing list, right?!]
(2) Create a video on YouTube
You can see below the video of my research for ‘One Day In Budapest', [or watch it here on YouTube] a process I will be repeating for all my novels since I enjoyed making it so much. I used a lot of my own photographs from my research trip and added a little text to a Keynote (or you can use Powerpoint) presentation. I then recorded myself talking about the various aspects of the book. Since you see my face, it (hopefully) brings the ideas alive as I talk about them.
To create the video, I used Screenflow on the Mac to record both the screen and my face. Then I edited the video in Screenflow and loaded it up to YouTube.
(3) Create a Slideshare of your research
If a video is a step too far technically, consider a presentation on Slideshare.
To create the slides, you can still use Powerpoint or Keynote. Personally, I prefer a lot of visuals to just text. Think TED talks or Presentation Zen.
One author and publisher doing this well is Bob Mayer, who has written over 52 books. He shares a number of videos about his own and other Cool Gus books at http://www.slideshare.net/CoolGus
(4) Write blog posts about your research
I keep all my research articles on my fiction site, where I don't blog too often. But when I do post, it's related to my own fiction or for fans of thrillers e.g. interviews with thriller authors. Here's an example post all about the John Soane Museum in London, which I use in Exodus, ARKANE Book 3. I include some history as well as my own impressions and an excerpt from the book where I describe the place.
(5) Create a Pinterest Board
Visual images give a swift impression of what the book is about, and then readers can click through to find more information if they're interested. Check out my Pinterest board for the ARKANE series, and if you are a fan of darker things, have a look at the board for my next novel, Desecration (not for the faint-hearted).
Pinterest is really easy to use. Just set up a profile and then add and share images. Beware, it's addictive 🙂 I only really use it for my fiction and I link to the page for the book in my Author's Notes in order to give more of a 3D effect to the writing.
Are you a research junkie writer? Do you love to know more as a reader? Please do share your thoughts and questions below.
Aleshia Robinson says
EXCELLENT IDEA JOANNA! I think I’ll start with the slideshow.
Colleen Vanderlinden says
Great ideas! I already do the Pinterest board one, but I think I’ll start blogging more about my research as well.
Sea Never Dry says
Love this idea! And why wait until the book is out? This would be a great way to generate interest in advance of your launch and get readers primed and ready to buy the book!
Joanna Penn says
Indeed, I share my research as I write the book – if you do that, remember to have an email list so people can signup to be notified of the book when it is out.
Excellent idea to make a video! So far I’ve only posted my research photos to my blog but I really like the video idea 🙂
AD Starrling says
I have my research material as a Bonus section on my website, where I also have character profiles for each book. I have been wanting to try the author’s note at the end of the book though! I’m also intending to put the pics and links on my Pinterest board; at the moment, I have the music playlists uploaded. I schedule one song from the books’ playlists every week, with details about why that particular song was chosen and where it fits in the story.
Joanna Penn says
I didn’t even cover music but that’s a whole new way of sharing – check out the Undercover Soundtrack at Roz Morris’ blog http://mymemoriesofafuturelife.com/category/undercover-soundtrack/ which has authors posting the songs that inspired their writing.
You can also now have songs on Wattpad alongside your work.
AD Starrling says
Thanks Joanna! 🙂
Dawn Malone says
I love when a book includes an author’s note. It’s like sitting down for a personal chat with the writer after I finish the book.
Joanna Penn says
Me too Dawn, I always like to include one in my novels 🙂
Marcia Richards says
Love your ideas, Joanna! The video was great. I like that better than the the slideshare presentation. I have a Pinterest board for my book, which won’t require as much research as yours, but the blog post is good idea to hook readers. Thanks for sharing this info!
Olga Núñez Miret says
Like Marcia, my books so far haven’t required much research although that might well change in the future. I’m not very good with visuals (OK, I’m terrible) but once I get more time I will explore, and as I have a regular blog and a Pinterest one I’ll make use of some of your tips. Thanks!
Graham Ride says
Good ideas, Joanna. Have you thought of linking research to Book Drum?
Do you have any experience with that site? I’m just investigating it, it seems useful for an author to expand on their work as well as fans and devotees but I really don’t know how popular it is.
Joanna Penn says
That’s the first I’ve heard of it Graham, but it looks like they focus on ‘classic’ books rather than self-publishing. As a reader, I’m not so fond of immersive experiences IN the book, but rather outside of it.
Graham Ride says
I didn’t read it that way once I had found their rather hard to see ‘authors and publishers page’ at
Would you still hold the same view having read what they say on that page?
If you haven’t heard of them then they must be obscure! 😎 Your my eyes and ears on this whole subject.
Nick LeVar says
Great video. I’ve been contemplating using Screenflow, and your video told me all I needed to know. I’m doing an emersion experience by actually volunteering to work for a company as part of my research. I can learn much more than I could with an interview. I will be recording my experiencing and posting a video of it using Screenflow.
Rebekah Lyn says
I love these ideas! Thanks for sharing them.
Stuart Taylor says
Certainly good material for blog and facebook posts. Thanks Joanna.
Icy Sedgwick says
I’ve blogged about things I’ve researched but I never thought about using YouTube or Pinterest in that way. I’ll have to give them a go!
NoahDavid Lein says
Research often creates 2 stories:
1) the one we write;
2) the millions we could write.
What a great way to share the world of our stories and even inspire others. Thank you!
Sharon Lippincott says
Fantastic ideas, each and every one. You’ve punched new windows in the walls around my project. Am passing this post along. Thank you!
Jim Porter says
These are truly wonderful, creative and fascinating ideas. But with my writing and publishing schedule for the next five years, I don’t have time to do media stuff. Not so satisfying, but it is currently is the best I can do.
Joanna Branson says
LOVE these ideas, Joanna! I write primarily historical YA fiction and always fight the risk of getting so caught up in the research that I don’t get the writing done! These are fantastic ideas for using the research in pre-marketing my books and projects, and creating other products for my YA audience. (And after watching the video above about your new novella, I HAD to purchase it. 🙂 I can’t wait to read it this weekend!)