Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A different kind of book research

Not too long ago, I got an idea for a nonfiction book. This idea actually came to me after I was going through a publisher's page and checking out a series he was doing. The books had titles that started with "Devoted to..." and the following books had been published so far: Devoted to Economizing, Devoted to Traveling, Devoted to Writing, Devoted to Cooking, Devoted to Quilting, Devoted to Fishing and Devoted to Trucking. My friend and fellow writer, Jen Nipps, even did one of those books: Devoted to Creating. When I saw all that, I thought it was a nifty idea! I liked a series with such a title theme, and I started to think, Gosh, it sure would be nice if I could do one, too. Well, Devoted to Writing was already taken, so I thought maybe I missed that boat. How wrong I turned out to be.

After some time passed, I was struck with an idea for a Devoted book to do. It seemed like the perfect kind of book to write! I went through all the other books first, however, because I was worried that this particular book might not have an appropriate theme. But after reading the book excerpts and seeing that, yes, this theme COULD work, I decided to proceed. But, even still, I thought I would just wait to write this book. Give that idea some time to grow. Research it for a year or two. (I've got so many other projects on my plate, as it is! I'm burying myself in books!)

I started to flesh out my idea some more. Figure out what the chapters would cover. With that done, I set about doing research. I had to see if such a book has already been done. Unfortunately, I am not able to buy every single book out there on this topic, though I have bought one so far. In the old days, I used to do that. Buy tons of books on topics I was writing about (as I did with Druidism when I wrote November's Child). But the cost of books has gone up since then and I'm no longer as financially capable of such an expense as before. These days, I do what I can -- relying on the library, bookstore, Google Book Search and Amazon's "Look Inside" feature (these last two options are limited but at least they give me a good enough idea of what those books are about and what they cover. Thank goodness they include the entire Table of Contents!) I've been going through various books on this topic and I still managed to figure out how to make my book different. A plus is that many of the Devoted books had personal stories related to the topic, and I knew I could certainly write my own for this topic.

At that point, I felt confident enough in my abilities to write this book. I still wanted to wait to tackle this project, but before I knew it, I started writing it! Something just told me that NOW is the time for this book. So I sent an email before I proceeded further. Just to see if the publisher was open to accepting proposals for these books. He replied that he certainly was, and reminded me of what I needed to include.

Part of my writing routine has involved researching this book, but this week, that research has taken on another turn. My research has been limited to getting the proposal ready to go and spiffying up my sample chapter. I'm just about done and look forward to sending it all off.

From there, who knows what will happen? If he rejects it, I'll have to give it a new title and send it to a different publisher. But if he accepts my proposal, then I look forward to continuing with this project and eventually seeing it in print. I'll manage to juggle it along with my other projects somehow.

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