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How to represent myself to expert sources?

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707

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Hi everyone. I've read really good posts here about interviewing experts. But I have a question about how to represent myself to them. I've written articles in the past in which the person I've wanted to interview asked what publication I was writing for. That's not a probelm if I have an assignment. But if I'm writing on spec, I'm not sure how to answer the question. Should I say I'm a freelance writer hoping to be published in _______ magazine? I don't want to give the impression that I'm wasting their time. Any suggestions? Thanks!
Shelly  :thanks2
#1 - July 20, 2008, 11:50 PM
« Last Edit: July 21, 2008, 01:29 PM by 707 »

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Hi Shelly,

What I've done is to say something like: "I'm writing an article on the topic of XYZ , and would love to include your expertise in the article. I'll be pitching the piece to local parenting magazines (or whatever the category is) and wondered if you'd be available for a phone interview."

I've never had anyone turn me down for an interview, even for articles on spec. That said, now that you have some clips in your file, I'd try to avoid writing on spec if you can. When you query, you can either contact the expert first and ask if s/he would be amenable to doing an interview for an article that you're pitching. If so, you can add that in your query: "XYZ expert has agreed to an interview." Now that I've established a working relationship with certain editors, I just say things like: "I'd love to interview XYZ for this piece" and then contact Mr. or Ms. XYZ once I've got the assignment.

 :goodluck

Natalie
#2 - July 21, 2008, 04:22 AM
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707

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Thank you, Natalie. Your advice is eye-opening--regarding both the experts and working on spec.  I have two articles in mind, both of which will require quite a bit of research. I think I'll take your advice and query the editors instead of spending hours researching. Thanks for your help! : ) Shelly
#3 - July 21, 2008, 08:02 AM
« Last Edit: July 21, 2008, 01:30 PM by 707 »

Natalie gave some really good advice. If you can query an editor and get them to at least say "We'll look at it" that's great.
Some magazines don't do that. When I get an idea and the magazine I want to send it to doesn't do assignments, then  I tell the person of interest that I'm a freelance writer and would like to interview them for  possible publication on an article I am writing. I then list a few magazines that I am interested in sending the article too.
I've been turned down and accepted by people. The main thing is be upfront with the person and let the cards fall where they may.
Good luck with your articles.
~~~Tracey
#4 - July 21, 2008, 06:59 PM

wheelertop

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I'll chime in here with a resource. You can post a query for a specific type of source at www.helpareporter.com. The queries go out 3 times a day to over 16,000 people- lots of them are publicists for universities and such that check to see if they have a professor they could get some face time for. I got great responses for a project of mine.
#5 - July 23, 2008, 01:39 PM

Prof Net is also a great resource for finding experts.
#6 - July 23, 2008, 05:15 PM
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barb95831

Guest
Hi everyone. I've read really good posts here about interviewing experts. But I have a question about how to represent myself to them. I've written articles in the past in which the person I've wanted to interview asked what publication I was writing for. That's not a probelm if I have an assignment. But if I'm writing on spec, I'm not sure how to answer the question. Should I say I'm a freelance writer hoping to be published in _______ magazine? I don't want to give the impression that I'm wasting their time. Any suggestions? Thanks!
Shelly  :thanks2

I tell the expert I'm writing my article on speculation they always give me an interview.

ProfNet is a great resource for finding experts. Many colleges have experts listed you can find them by googling university name + expert.

Barb :old
#7 - August 06, 2008, 02:07 PM

Shirley Anne

Guest
I contact the expert and explain I'm writing articles on ABC. Sometimes I ask if I can contact them at a later date if I receive an assignment, and interview them, via phone or email, whatever they prefer. Other times I just ask if I may interview them. Occasionally I tell the expert about my writing credentials, but usually they don't even ask. I have never been turned down, not once. I always tell them I'll send a copy of the magazine, or article, once it's in print, and I always do. They really seem to like that. I've found experts love to talk about what they do.

Good luck and I'm sure you'll do fine. Just be honest and be yourself.

Shirley Anne
#8 - August 10, 2008, 07:52 AM

CarrieAnn

Guest
I second and third what everyone else has said here. And don't be afraid to contact bigwigs, either, even if you're working on spec. When I was starting out, I sent an email to a major international nonprofit asking for an interview. I hoped to get someone from a local office and would have been pleased with that. I ended up on the phone with the CEO, right after she was done with an interview with the Today Show or something equally as big. I can't exactly remember, but it took my breath away, and I asked her why she agreed to do such a small time interview. She said that it was simply because I was honest about being a beginner and I was polite. She wanted to help me out.

Go figure. That stuff they taught in kindergarten really works. :)
#9 - August 10, 2008, 12:43 PM

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