Book helps writers do their research

Shawn Fields, the director at the Huntington Branch Library, recently published his first book, Become A Research Expert and Scope Out the Competition for Your Book, to provide aspiring authors with tips and research techniques for marketing their book and attracting potential publishers.

“When you go to a publisher they want to know if they’re going to make money on the book,” Fields said. “You need to show them why yours is unique or has a niche.”

Some of the chapters in Fields’ book discuss guides for navigating different databases, such as library catalogs, and using Internet websites that are either publicly available like Google and Amazon or unavailable like Library of Congress and WorldCat.

“Eighty percent of the best information is not available to something like Google,” Fields said.

The book also encourages readers to enlist the help of other people such as librarians and bookstore owners.

Fields, an Oxford resident, said the idea for the book occurred after his friend and literary agent, Jan Kardys, asked him to give a workshop at her annual writers’ conference in March 2011 at St. Clements Castle in Portland. The workshop focused on the same techniques given in his book.

The success of the workshop prompted Kardys to suggest Fields compile his information in a book, which she would use at her writers’ conferences as well her library workshops and meetings with potential authors.

Kardys expected Fields to have the book completed within a very short period of time. In order for him to meet the deadline Fields said Kardys told him to self-publish the book, which is quicker than going through the process of having it printed by a publisher.

In addition to the hard copies, published in April 2012, Fields said he also published an e-book version a few weeks ago.

“I used a website called Smashwords,” Fields said. “They will take your e-book and they modify it to fit all the different e-book formats and then they’ll send it out to the Kindle stores, to ibooks, Sony and that kind of stuff.”

Although this is the first book he has had published, Fields said he has written chapters for anthologies and also has a chapter that has not yet been published.

“This is all stuff I do outside the library,” Fields said. “I get opportunities to speak and give workshops and stuff like that.”

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of his book, you may buy it at Written Words Bookstore in Shelton or make an online purchase at his website,, which sells both hard copies and e-book versions. The e-books are also for sale on and will be available at all major e-book vendors.