If you’re writing books related to current news headlines or pop trends, newspapers can be a great resource.
The problem is: Finding the right articles in the right papers.
Basically, if you’re using current-ish newspaper articles for your research, NewsLibrary.com is pretty powerful. But, their annual membership is around $200.
That’s a lot, unless you’re often knee-deep in newspaper research. If that’s your career – and how you spend far too much time, most weeks – the $200 could be worth it. (Or, you can watch for special deals and coupons. During a past special, in February 2018, you could get a year for $30.)
For me… I’m not sure it’s worth it. I’m still thinking about this.
For one thing, I’m writing less nonfiction now.
And, though much of my work focuses on historical fiction, including real people in my stories has always seemed too “cutesy” for me.
HOW I USE NEWSPAPERS FOR FICTION RESEARCH
If something significant happened the (historical) year my story takes place in, I’ll certainly want to know about – and possibly include – cool historical trivia that might affect my story’s world. For that, I start with The People’s Chronology.
If you write anything historical, that book is invaluable. At the moment, you can snag a used copy for under $2.
If you’re thinking about buying that book, get a copy now. In the past, when I’ve recommended hard-to-find books, the prices soared after I talked about them, here. Sometimes, those prices never came down again.
How I use that book: I start with the year or era I’m interested in. Then, I find something topical in The People’s Chronology. After that, I research it in old newspapers for supporting information.
In addition to NewsLibrary.com, here are two more (of many):
- For US news stories, the Library of Congress is good and free.
- For UK news stories, the British Newspaper Archive is pure gold… but it’s not free.
Also, GenealogyBank.com is great for researching people. As the site name suggests, it’s for people researching their ancestry.
But – for your books and stories – if you don’t have a person’s name (or the person was in the news, often), I’m not sure it’s practical to manually search their resources. It can be feast or famine, and sometimes – when it’s in the “feast” category – the vast number of newspaper articles can be overwhelming.
Meanwhile, if you’re working with recent, old, vintage, or antique newspapers, and you’re not sure about copyright, keep international laws and public domain guidelines in mind. (The Legal Genealogist had something to say about this, too.)
I’m dashing back to my books now, but wanted to share these resources because I rely on them to enrich so many of my books – fiction and nonfiction.
If you have questions, leave a comment. I’m always happy when I can help others succeed as writers, authors, and indie publishers.