Greetings fellow readers and indie authors!
Most of you know me as Black Knight, the author of the Starshatter decalogy. A ten book long series (I am expeditiously working on number 8th) which is a Sword&Railgun, Space opera Pulp Scifi. Starshatter is set in what one could quite reasonably describe as wholesome (at least for our intrepid Terrans) alternate history universe.
I did manage to write and publish a good number of books, and in just a few short years. My Starshatter intro book was published in the year of our Lord 2018, followed by the second and third installment in the series. Since then, I have successfully released a total of nine books; seven of my main series, one compilation of short stories set in the same universe, and a brand new novella.
This is quick, almost too fast one would say, and they'd be correct.
My honest advice for any upcoming indie author is: take your time, polish your manuscript and do everything proper. Avoid repeating all of the basic mistakes which beginner authors (like myself) often commit. Proofread a lot, find dependable sigma readers and if your finances allow it, an editor. Yet there is something else you could do even before writing a single page of your draft.
Depending on what your goal is, this process could take from a single day, a week, a few months or years. Of course, you need not commit precious writing time to do research which others have already done. It is always wise to look for helpful articles first; of which there are aplenty, posted on forums and social media. Notwithstanding these, you might be forced to look for specific literature or watch documentaries.
Oftentimes for your chosen genre said helpful books might be easy to locate or, require more digging. That is often the case when your research requires rare historical literature or peer reviewed scientific papers. Though both acquiring such reads and utilizing them is a hard, time-consuming process, you may find it rather rewarding in the end.
First, one best manage the time available to them, wisely. You need not invest months if your job is demanding and time consuming or, for example, the piece you are writing is short. A few days of light research maybe your best choice of action for a short story.
One of my best friends invested three full months to read about different tribal cultures for her fantasy novella. Which is a great example of moderate research, although in many cases, a good month of heavy reading would be more than enough. In my own case, though it is not unique by any stretch of the imagination, a much more thorough approach was required. This meant years of reading historical literature, watching dozens of documentaries, and interviewing people.
Choose the type of research is best for you; light, moderate, or thorough.
After making a sound decision about your time management and picking the best type of research to fit your project, it is time to commit. By now you would have compiled a list of various sources, media which contains all the relevant information you'll need. It is of paramount importance for you to take notes, and structure them well. This will make your life much easier when you finally commit to writing your draft.
Start with researching the basics needed to construct your project's pillars or, its skeleton if you will. Perhaps one of the most important steps, one which modern Hollywood forgoes completely. By assembling a good, well-shaped, firm base for your story you will avoid most of the dangerous storytelling pitfalls you might otherwise encounter later. Meaning this basic research will help you during the actual writing process, mayhap shave off a month or more.
Now if your time allows you could go forward with the research. Your story has strong bones, the next step is to connect them with muscle, tendon, and cartilage. These are the your Universe's rules and its core lore, the important things which would help bring life to your story. If you do your research well, study what others have done right or where they erred, you are set for success.
If you chose to commit to it, the last part of your research process will provide you with lots of intriguing pieces of information. Factoids would add even more depth to your Universe, so it reads like an inviting, warm house, full of interesting people. Many readers say that it is the small things which they enjoy the most.
That could be a piece of art on the wall; a song hummed by playing children, even something as inconspicuous as the vending machine your character buys their soda from. By weaving in small, yet relatable bits into your story you are making full use of all the information you've procured so far.
Ultimately no matter what type or level of research you've committed to it is important to utilize every single note. “Waste not want not,” wise people often say and they are correct, especially when it comes to doing this kind of research. In the end you will find that your studies had not only helped you write a more engaging story, craft relatable characters, but bettered your own life.
Knowledge is power, use it to forge more and wholesome stories!