Recently I came across an online discussion about reaching out to experts when we authors need to learn more about a topic. I was amazed at how many people assumed that they have to pay someone for information. That has never been my experience.
In my research on the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), I came across an article about the work done by a professor who reviewed the original environmental assessment. According to the author there were numerous points that “raised red flags.” Seriously? I can’t quote that. My editor will want to know what things. So I did the only thing I could.
I went online and searched for the professor’s name. I knew her university so I was able to verify that I had found the right person. I simply used the contact form on her website, identifying myself as a children’s nonfiction author writing on the DAPL. I included a link to my Amazon Author page so that she could see what I do and then I waited. In less than two days she e-mailed me back with her cell phone number.
The vast majority of people I contact, especially if they are faculty, researchers or park rangers are happy to share what they know. They’re excited at the thought of educating young readers. And, especially when the topic is difficult or controversial, they want to make sure that the information being circulated is accurate.
I have had some people react with a certain amount of suspicion if they think that I’m a journalist. Nope — children’s writer. Nonfiction writer. Once they understand that, they usually perk right up.
Reach out to those who are experts in your field. They can help you replace skewed information with accurate fact. They may even tell you about something so new you won’t find it in any other print source. All you have to do is find an expert who is willing to share.