Cindy Hudson is the author of Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs (Seal Press, October 2009). She’s the founder of two long-running mother-daughter book clubs. Hudson lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and two daughters. Visit her online at www.MotherDaughterBookClub.com.
Liven up Your Stories with Interviews by Cindy Hudson
You probably already know that good nonfiction often includes quotes from experts and other sources. Quotes lend an air of universality that the writer alone may not be able to portray. What may be less clear to you is how to find sources that will liven up your writing and give it credibility. Here are a few suggestions to help:
- Read books and magazines that quote experts like the ones you are seeking. When I was writing my guidebook for mother-daughter book clubs, I wanted to quote an expert in the field of mother-daughter relationships. I found my expert while reading an article about middle-school girls in Daughters magazine.
- Put out a call through your blog or newsletter. Relating stories from moms in book clubs around the country was also an important part of my book. Before I started writing, I collected email addresses of those who sent in book reviews or contributed ideas to my website, MotherDaughterBookClub.com. When I was ready to write, I made a list of the kinds of stories I was looking for then put out a request to subscribers of my newsletter. I also posted a notice on my blog.
- Talk to people you know. Chances are your friends and other acquaintances have a wealth of knowledge about many different professions, hobbies, and interests. Make a list of everyone you know, where they work and anything else you know about them to help you identify sources. If you don’t find exactly what you’re looking for, ask those with the closest connection to recommend others. I connected with a well-known expert on library book groups through the librarian at my local branch.
- Use social networking sites. Let your contacts at LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter know what you are searching for, and they may have ideas to pass along.
- Ask sources you’re already using. Chances are, they know someone else they can recommend you contact.
- Do a broad Internet search. I was recently reminded that you can find just about anything you are looking for by typing keywords into your favorite search engine and pressing the return key. You may even find unexpected results that will add an extra dimension to whatever you are writing.
Remember to leave yourself enough time to connect with someone you hope to interview in person or over the phone. Even email interviews may take more time than you expect if your source can’t answer your questions right away.