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Tools to aid your writing and publishing research

Below is a list of handy links to help you in your research. I have used these in both my fiction writing and my journalism career. I hope you find them useful!


Curators and Research Management Sites

Fight Scenes

Mystery, Crime, and Murder

  • truTV’s Crime Library
    This database contains detailed reports on serial killers, gangsters, terrorist, murdered and rapists, their methods and insights into the criminal mind. It is a great resource if you are writing in that genre.


  • Funds for Writers 
    A list of available grants for writers. This site also has a list for Contests.

Professional Associations


  • Publishers Marketplace
    Find registered authors, agents or editors. Many have pages detailing books they have written, represented or published, as well as their contact information. You can pay a fee to get the full service or you can use their free search function.

Query Letters

  • Query Shark
    Query Shark critiques fiction queries. You send in your query, using the submissions guideline, and “the shark” reviews it and posts the critique on its blog.

Research Tools

  • Library of Congress
    Oh where do I begin? I have a geeky love affair with the Library of Congress. You simply email the librarian using a form on their site and they email you back within a few hours with your request fulfilled. It’s wonderful.
  • National Archives
    The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the nation’s record keeper. Of all documents and materials created in the course of business conducted by the United States Federal government, only 1%-3% are so important for legal or historical reasons that they are kept by us forever.
  • Digital Public Library
    The DPLA offers a single point of access to millions of items—photographs, manuscripts, books, sounds, moving images, and more—from libraries, archives, and museums around the United States. Users can browse and search the DPLA’s collections by timeline, map, format, and topic; save items to customized lists; and share their lists with others. Users can also explore digital exhibitions curated by the DPLA’s content partners and staff.
  • Questia
    The Questia library contains books and journal articles on subjects such as history, philosophy, economics, political science, English and literature, anthropology, psychology, and sociology. It also includes magazine and newspaper articles.
  • The History Guide
    Contains ninety lectures in European history from ancient Sumer to the fall of Soviet-style communism in 1989.
  • How Stuff Works
    From car engines to search engines, from cell phones to stem cells, and thousands of subjects in between, HowStuffWorks has it covered.

Allexperts is the first large-scale question and answer service on the net. They  have thousands of volunteers, including  lawyers, doctors, engineers, and scientists, waiting to answer your questions. All answers are free and most come within a day.

Suzanne Collins got the premise for the Hunger Games from watching tv. You can do the same! This site will give you ideas on how to make the most of your tv time.

The Librarian Writer blog compiled a list of databases that can serve as handy research tools for writers.

This is a free open-access site that curates scholarly studies and reports. It is managed by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center and the Carnegie-Knight Initiative.

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a federal law that establishes the public’s right to obtain information from federal government agencies. Similar laws exist at the state level. If you are writing a historical novel for example, this may be a great way to add context to your story.

Scams and Schemes

The Writer Beware blog  is published by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America’s Committee on Writing Scams. It provides news and advice on “literary scams, schemes and pitfalls.”

Writing Technique

A free online course offered by the Poynter Institute. It contains essays on 50 writing tools the author has compiled from reporters and editors, from authors of books on writing, and from teachers and coaches. I have done the entire course and found it both beneficial and inspiring.