Part Two of Primary Source Materials

Part Two of Primary Source Materials

Boring topic but important one. I also discuss why this necessary attention to details involves murderous amounts of hours which ultimately brings down any hope of making money from your writing.


This is part two of locating and dealing, getting primary source material, and this is still just for a query letter. And like I said before, your letter has to be as accurate as your as you envision your article or your book that you’re going to write. Um, there are materials, records that exist in certain libraries and nowhere else, certain archives. The last time I dealt with this was I had to travel to the California State Library downtown Sacramento called had I had to call ahead for them to bring out a couple of boxes.

This particular writer I was investigating his estate had donated twenty four boxes of different materials from his career at the San Francisco Chronicle. And at least online, I could determine that there were the things that I needed. But to call ahead, they’re waiting for you. And actually, because of this collection, you go into a special room where only two people are allowed. You can only have your phone. It turned out that a lot of the clippings I needed, the newspaper clippings were well, I had to do my best by taking photographs of them with my phone and then doing OCR optical code recognition on the text later.

It’s. It’s I won’t even get into microfiche and microfilm. It’s one thing about these libraries when you’re in them, any special collection library or limited libraries, you might sometimes see professional Jenah and genealogists or other pros that are doing various research. You can always ask them about the procedure of the library. The librarians in these places tend to be less worked than a main or general library. So they’re usually very, very helpful. But this kind of research, when you have to, you know, if a record exists nowhere else, you’ve got to find it.

You and it may require. My brother Bill, for example, wrote a book on published by Mountain Press on our Uncle Murray, and it required travel across the entire United States. And that’s why if you have to travel for a query letter, you have to realize immediately this is going to cost you. And this is why, like Bill’s travels across the states, I’m not sure how many copies he sold. A couple of thousand. But you’re never getting your money back.

This is why probably less than five percent of independent writers are self supporting. The only people making money and writing are being paid by somebody else. Like if you’re doing legal research and writing for a law firm or you’re working for a school district and writing as part of your job. But independent writers, it there’s just no money that the hours spent and doing this kind of research, the money spent on travel. Is just absolutely incredible, and it’s it’s one reason to why well, people don’t understand why writers don’t make money.

You’re doing it because you love to write. You’ve got an interest in a subject. Maybe an article in the magazine will help with resume building, maybe to get a better paying assignment. But the amount of time spent in career letters, 90 percent of them, 95 percent, are rejected. They take weeks to develop. So really think hard about when access is limited. Again, I’ve been lucky in certain cases, though, to have libraries immediately next to me have the titles that I need or I’ve been able to get interlibrary loan books.

So it’s all not negative. What else do we have? Now, let me pause for just a second here. Yes, I should mention in passing that or just to review that this sort of research is for general publications, is not for academic work or the law. If you are writing a query letter for something like a University Press University presses exists to really to publish the work of professors, to have them work toward tenure. But some university presses will accept query letters, book ideas from laypeople.

But you will be subject to the same exact rigorous academic standards of scholarship when you’re citing materials. And yeah, everything notches up then. So it’s the same way with the law. But you’ll find that out if you’re working in the law. You already know that one thing.

By thomasfarley01

Business writer and graphic arts gadfly.

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