You Ask, We Answer: Can I quote from books?
I’ve been scouring the internet for someone who can answer a basic freelancing question for me. Are all these writers who quote “experts” for their stories actually quoting their own interviews with the experts/authors or are they quoting the experts’ books, which are always named. I see so many stories where three different experts are quoted with only a single quote from each. Are they really doing these interviews? And if so, why, when it’s just a repetition of everything in the expert’s book??
You need to quote from interviews, not books. And if you get a quote from a book, you need to indicate that it’s from a book; for example, “In her new book Living Young: How to Erase 50 Years from Your Looks, Ima Scamma says, ‘Twinkies are a miracle food that reduce fine lines and wrinkles when applied topically.’” However, most editors frown on quoting from books.
Even if some of the information I’m quoting is available in the expert’s book, I need him to say it in order to get good quotes, which liven up an article and give it credibility. Sometimes before I start an interview I even tell the source, “I know the answers to some of the questions I’ll ask you are available in your book, but I need to get the information from you so I’m not just quoting your book.” They never seem to have a problem with that.
Interviewing is about more than getting quotes — it also helps you better understand the topic you’re writing about so you can explain it for your readers. I typically interview each expert for about 20 minutes to half an hour. I then use the information I learned to inform the article, and may actually quote the expert only a few times. [lf]
If you liked that post, you might also like:
- You Ask, We Answer: Can I Quote from a Book?
- You Ask, I Answer: Do I Need the Expert Before I Query?
- Why You Shouldn’t Do E-Mail Interviews Unless You Really, Really Have To
- Bust My Excuse: I Don’t Know How to Find Experts – Or Make Them Talk
- My Dirty Little Secret — And 5 Ways to Beat Your Fear of Interviewing Sources
Sep 27, 2009 Writing