Here are some solid starters:
* Start with a keyword list. Think, if you need the four (or six or ten) words that best describe your topic, what would they be? Create two columns on a piece of paper. Put those keywords in the first column.
* Head to Google (or more specific search engines) and type in the keywords, one at a time. See how often those interested in your topic seek information about it using those terms. Then write down in the second column all of the closely-related words or word combinations that appear next to or with your keyword.
* Also find keyword research tools to see how often particular keywords are used on the key search engines, plus what other keywords the suggest. Google.com can help you here.
* Study the links that the search reveals, plus the organizations and other sources providing related information. Follow up on the most relevant links.
* Don’t forget the library. First check the magazines and newspapers most related to your topic. Ask the angels of the stacks, the reference librarians, how to do this quickly and thoroughly. Let them help you develop a specific hunt for the kind of information you need to make your book up-to-date and sufficiently comprehensive.
* Ask them if you have computer access through their library to Lexis-Nexis articles and news sources, and, if so, how that can be done from your home. That’s a gold mine.
* If you are writing in the travel field, my book Travel Writer’s Guide will guide you through research and interviewing there. Accuracy is golden in travel writing!
* Have you interviewed anybody for your book, if it’s appropriate or needed? There are books about the technique, but it’s hardly mysterious. You can interview them in person, by phone, or through email. (If you tape, ask permission. If they say no, write fast!)
Know something about the person you wish to interview before you make the contact, know basically what you want from that interview, prepare your questions in a logical order, and then contact them. (Once I wanted to interview then Governor Adlai Stevenson, so I called his office to see if I could set that up. In short, he answered the phone—and said he had about six free minutes right then if I was ready to go!)
Tell them you are in the middle of writing a book about ___ and you’d like to share their thoughts or knowledge about three specific things. (If it’s by phone, tell them it will take less than 15 minutes.) The book will be published in ___, and, of course, you’ll send them a copy when it sees light. Get to the point quickly—and let them talk.
Finally, be accurate when quoting. If you don’t understand something, ask the person to explain it in a different way. If you don’t hear them, ask them to repeat it. Thank them. Get their address so you can send them a book or article copy.
* Doing research is not a permission slip that allows you to hide at the keyboard or in the stacks rather than writing and publishing your book. It’s an in-and-out card so you can publish lots of books while you’re still fairly pink!
Incidentally, if you need guidance publishing your new (or old) book in ebook form, my How to Get Your Book Published Free in Minutes and Marketed Worldwide in Days may help.