Publish date:

Where Do Writers Find Experts?

Author:

Q: I've read many articles in your magazine and others that advise freelance magazine writers to use quotes from experts on their given subject, but none of the articles tell writers how to go about doing that. Where do writers find experts? How do you approach them? How do you obtain permission to use quotes? This can be intimidating for a new writer. —Theresa Fort

A: Next to cold, hard facts, experts play the most pivotal role in providing journalists with information. They hold knowledgeable opinions that can verify and validate information in the article to readers. And, while at times it may feel like experts are as hidden as Waldo, they really are easier to find than one might think.

Experts are everywhere—universities, doctor’s offices, Taco Bell. But, sometimes you have to do a little digging. Don’t be afraid to hop onto Google or Yahoo and search your topic, clicking on the top 15 to 20 links that come up and keeping an eye out for anyone who could fit your needs.
Another valuable tool is Profnet.com, which is a free service that connects journalists with sources. How it works: You propose your question and Profnet sends it to more than 14,000 experts, attempting to find people who know your subject. These folks are typically happy to help because it gives them more exposure.

Now, when approaching an expert, it’s important to be upfront with her. In any phone or e-mail conversation, immediately state your name, your association (“I’m a Boise-based freelance writer”), your topic and deadline (if you have one). Also, let the expert know that you may use quotes from the interview in your article. If you send an e-mail, let the person know that you want to accommodate her and are willing to conduct the interview however she prefers—e-mail, phone, fax, in person (if local).

Don’t be intimidated by the interviewing process. It’s much easier than it sounds. And, at worst, the expert says no and you move on—or place a curse on him. Not that I’ve ever done that …

Brian A. Klems is the online managing editor of Writer’s Digest magazine.

Have a question for me? Feel free to post it in the comments section below or e-mail me at WritersDig@fwpubs.com with “Q&Q” in the subject line. Come back each Tuesday as I try to give you more insight into the writing life.

Why We Should Read Middle Grade Fiction as Adults

Why We Should Read Middle Grade Fiction as Adults

Young Adult fiction has surpassed its own demographic by being acceptable to read at any age. Why have we left middle grade fiction out of that equation? Here’s why we should be reading middle grade fiction as adults and as writers.

What Are the 6 Different Types of Editing?

What Are the 6 Different Types of Editing?

When you reach the editing phase of your manuscript, it's important to know what kind of editing you're looking for in particular. Author Tiffany Yates breaks down the 6 different types of editing.

WD Poetic Form Challenge

WD Poetic Form Challenge: Imayo Winner

Learn the winner and Top 10 list for the Writer’s Digest Poetic Form Challenge for the imayo.

Writer's Digest 90th Annual Competition Print or Online Article First Place Winner: "Surfacing an Aquatic Diaspora"

Writer's Digest 90th Annual Competition Print or Online Article First Place Winner: "Surfacing an Aquatic Diaspora"

Congratulations to Elaine Howley, first place winner in the Print or Online Article category of the 90th Annual Writer's Digest Writing Competition. Here's her winning article, "Surfacing an Aquatic Diaspora."

Writer's Digest 90th Annual Competition Script (Stage Play or TV/Movie) First Place Winner: "Jaguar Woman"

Writer's Digest 90th Annual Competition Script (Stage Play or TV/Movie) First Place Winner: "Jaguar Woman"

Congratulations to Olga El, first place winner in the Script (Stage Play or TV/Movie) category of the 90th Annual Writer's Digest Writing Competition. Here's her winning TV Pilot script, "Jaguar Woman."

Writer's Digest 90th Annual Competition Non-Rhyming Poetry First Place Winner: "won't you celebrate with me"

Writer's Digest 90th Annual Competition Non-Rhyming Poetry First Place Winner: "won't you celebrate with me"

Congratulations to Nicole Adabunu, first place winner in the Non-Rhyming Poetry category of the 90th Annual Writer's Digest Writing Competition. Here's her winning poem, "won't you celebrate with me."

Writer's Digest 90th Annual Competition Rhyming Poetry First Place Winner: "She Lives in Underbridge World"

Writer's Digest 90th Annual Competition Rhyming Poetry First Place Winner: "She Lives in Underbridge World"

Congratulations to MF Slattery, first place winner in the Rhyming Poetry category of the 90th Annual Writer's Digest Writing Competition. Here's the winning poem, "She Lives in Underbridge World"

Writer's Digest 90th Annual Competition Mainstream/Literary Short Story First Place Winner: "Tracks"

Writer's Digest 90th Annual Competition Mainstream/Literary Short Story First Place Winner: "Tracks"

Congratulations to Elizabeth Rosen, first place winner in the Mainstream/Literary Short Story category of the 90th Annual Writer's Digest Writing Competition. Here's her winning story, "Tracks."

Writer's Digest 90th Annual Competition Genre Short Story First Place Winner: "A Brief Cameo"

Writer's Digest 90th Annual Competition Genre Short Story First Place Winner: "A Brief Cameo"

Congratulations to D. M. Ullrich, first place winner in the Genre Short Story category of the 89th Annual Writer's Digest Writing Competition. Here's his winning story, "A Brief Cameo."