Because I write so much nonfiction, I do a lot of research and one of my favorite ways to research a topic is to do interviews. I enjoy doing interviews because I often find out something new, something that hasn’t made its way into print. I also get someone else’s take on things when I do an interview. Before I can do this, I need to let them know who I am. I usually e-mail people first and I always let them know:
1. Who I am. This includes not only my name but my website and blog in my signature. This way they can find out a bit about me and know that I am legit.
2. Who will publish the article. Often, when I contact someone, I already have a contract for the article. I let them know where the piece will appear and I word it so that they know this is on assignment.
3. The subject of the article as well as my questions. Yes, I e-mail them my questions from the start. This can help put people at ease when they see that my article on young adult novels isn’t an expose on sex or other hot button topics. It also gives them some time to noodle over possible answers. This doesn’t mean that I don’t ask additional questions as we talk but this helps them see where I am going.
4. That they can do it be e-mail. Some people have schedules that are even more bizarre than my own. They may want to help, but fitting in a phone call during daylight hours isn’t always an option. E-mail is actually preferred by many of the editors and agents I interview although it does make spontaneous additional questions a bit more difficult.
I always know something about my topic before I contact anyone for an interview but I always learn something valuable. Would interviews make your work stronger?