Turning Research

Into Paying Articles

An exclusive Authorlink interview

by Lisa Abeyta

April 2009


When I told Nancy* that a photographer would arrive at the end of our local newspaper interview, she visibly changed from a strong, confident business woman into a frightened, trembling woman who couldn’t stop crying.

As a freelance reporter, I had dealt with plenty of camera-shy subjects, but this reaction went way beyond normal.  You see, Nancy was a victim of domestic violence who had completely obscured her identity to protect herself and her child from an ex-husband who had already attempted to kill them. She believed he would fulfill his promise if he ever discovered her new identity and located her.

A quick phone call to my editor, and we worked out a compromise which allowed us to still profile her business and keep her photo out of the paper.  Nancy’s was relieved.

“That early experience caused me to begin researching domestic violence . . .”

That early experience caused me to begin researching domestic violence, and eventually Nancy’s story sparked a fictional character in my as yet unfinished novel.  Through my research, I had learned much about the subject.

Over the years, I’ve used that same research to land several articles including a profile of a women’s shelter for a major feature in a glossy magazine, a profile of a judge who worked as an advocate for women and children of domestic violence, and a story on a local police officer who worked as a parole officer.  All of these paying gigs came from the research I had initially used for my fiction writing.

“. . . there is always a way to turn that research into ready cash.”

Whether you are a fiction and non-fiction writer, you probably have files upon files of links and research for your projects – even those you abandoned long ago.  And whether your project is a family cookbook filled with the ruminations of family members or a thriller which has required a detailed study of the first nuclear bomb developed in Los Alamos Laboratories, there is always a way to turn that research into ready cash. 

Here is how:

 Sort your research into categories and keep a list.  Not only will this help with your fiction projects, it will also help you determine the best non-fiction markets to pitch. Pick up a 2009 edition of Writer’s Market (either at a local bookstore or at your library)  and scan through the myriad topics, selecting five publications which seem like a good match to your research material.  You can also use internet searches, but this tactic often pulls up large numbers of questionable markets who may or may not pay for your work.  For example, did you run across an interesting story about a local resident who lived in Los Alamos when it was still a secret town?  Consider pitching a history piece to one of the bigger newspapers in the area or to a regional magazine.  Other markets could include: Military History Magazine (www.history.net), which is 95% freelance written and payments of up to $300 for purchased articles or Aviation History (www.thehistorynet.com) which also pays up to $300.  And then there are the regional magazines and those dealing with genealogy. Write a query letter to the contact person provided in the listing, and begin the query with an interesting tidbit of information to snag interest immediately.  If you have never written a query letter, there is no better time to learn than the present.  There are a multitude of books and websites that provide a reasonable format and template to get you started.  Just remember that an editor will be looking at your voice, tone, and material, so write with as much care as you put into your projects.

"One research topic, marketed correctly, can lead to several paying assignments."





It really is that simple.  One research topic, marketed correctly, can lead to several paying assignments.  So dig out your old files and get busy turning your old research into new cash.

About Regular Contributor
Lisa Abeyta

Lisa Abeyta is an award-winning writer, columnist and writing teacher. Having sold hundreds of articles to national and local publications, she also provides copywriting, web-copy, and other writing services to private and corporate clients. She is active in several online writing communities, moderating forums and providing guest articles on freelance writing. Lisa also serves as a guest lecturer, speaker and teaches writing to both adults and students.