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An Inexpensive way to research current writing trends

December 17th, 2010

Susan Palmquist Whether you’re an author or freelance writer there’s one thing that can be your biggest ally…your local library.

Mine’s located in what used to be a supermarket/restaurant. It’s spacious and has cozy armchairs and even a fireplace to sit and read beside.  However, comfort isn’t the reason I make regular trips there.

Here are three reasons why I think every writer should put a visit to the library on their to do list-

Reading is Essential

I never met a fellow writer who isn’t also an avid reader. You know you have to write everyday to get good at it and the same goes for reading. I don’t have the budget to buy every book out there so my solution is to check out books from the library. Non-fiction, fiction, even genres I don’t ever think I’ll write.

Inexpensive Market Research

When I decided I wanted to write romances my target market was Harlequin Intrigue. This meant reading as many as I could.  While it wouldn’t have broken the bank for me to head to a bookstore to buy a dozen, the library provided my market research for free.  I could borrow as many as I wanted. Both new and old releases and figure out what types of stories they published.

Publication Sleuth

Every year I set myself the goal of breaking into a new market.  I write down a list of all the magazines I’d like to see my byline in and head to the library to do my homework.  Most libraries stock not only new issues but back issues you can check out on your library card.  In the comfort of my home I can scan the pages, get the names of editors and get a feel for what types of articles they publish. It saves me money because I don’t have to take out a subscription.  My research is done faster and I don’t waste my time or the editor’s by pitching an idea that’s not right for them or worse still, one they published within the last twelve months.

So next time you pass a library, head inside. You’ll be glad you did.

Susan Palmquist is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Health, Arthritis Today, American Profile and My Weekly. She also writes a weekly blog called The Budget Smart Girl’s Guide to the Universe. Besides non-fiction, she is also an author and short story writer.  Susan has published five novels with four more set to be released in 2011.

Visit her two Web sites at www.susanpalmquist.com and www.budgetsmartgirl.com

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