For the intimate thrill of the experience, in-person personal interviews can’t be beat. But how do you interview experts who are out of your travel area? You have at least two options: email and video interviews.
For simplicity and convenience on both ends, go for the email interview when you can. They’re
- easier to set up;
- easier to conduct; and
- easier for interviewees to answer questions clearly and at their own convenience (though give a deadline by when you need the answers).
And you don’t need to transcribe them.
Likely you’ll receive answers that are longer and more detailed than you need. They’ll include typos, repetition, and extraneous anecdotes.
You can edit them. Get rid of puff. Delete redundancy. Shape the answer to fit your space.
But never alter the meaning; and respectfully share the revised quotes with your interviewee for approval.
Or ask in advance for permission to edit for brevity and clarity. You can count on a grateful “Please do.”
A second way to conduct interviews from a distance is by video conference over the Internet.
- Video conferences enable you to conduct interviews inexpensively with people all over the world.
- Videos are more personal than phone or email because you can see who you’re interviewing and what they’re doing.
- You can record them — but ask for permission before you do.
You can set up your video conference using Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Zoom, BlueJeans, or any other software application that provides video calls for multiple users, often including transcripts.
It’s always okay to revise an expert’s quote to delete repetition, redundancy, and the “uh”s and “er”s that clutter our dialogue but are irritating in written form, as long as your final version is faithful to the original meaning. It is not okay to change the meaning.
However you conduct your interview, as a courtesy, send your interviewee a brief email thank you note. Include the portion of your text with his or her answers and ask for an accuracy check.
In addition to gaining verification that your text is accurate, you could gain a fan of your work who will give you a solid testimonial quote for your back cover — or a foreword.
Never be intimidated into changing your interpretation of information. But don’t get caught having to defend a misquote.
When your book comes out, do send a complimentary signed copy.
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This piece was adapted from Ken Wachsberger’s You’ve Got the Time: How to Write and Publish That Book in You. Ken’s other books may be found here and here. For book coaching, editing, and speaking, email Ken at [email protected].