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Writing biography of person who is alive... do you offer them money?

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If you're writing a biography of someone who's a historical figure (only alive still today) and you're asking to interview them for the book... would you offer to pay them? It seems odd not to, seeing as you're writing about them, but at the same time I'd have no idea what to offer, if anything.

Thoughts, advice?
#1 - April 03, 2013, 09:23 AM

I would not offer them money.

For a wealth of information on writing biographies, I'd recommend checking out some of the sites associated with the Washington Biography Group. This link will give you a huge amount of info (and other links), although you may have to scroll through quite a bit of stuff that doesn't interest or apply: http://www.patmcnees.com/work16.htm.

Bob
#2 - April 03, 2013, 09:44 AM
« Last Edit: April 03, 2013, 09:47 AM by RMBittner »
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I don't think you can offer anything until you know the book will be published and that will come after the interviewing. I'd say don't offer, but if the book gets picked up, maybe you can send a very nice "thank you".
#3 - April 03, 2013, 09:46 AM
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No, I wouldn't pay. It seems like a conflict of interest. Oh, I do so prefer writing about dead people ...
If your book is published, a signed copy makes a very good gift.
Vijaya
#4 - April 03, 2013, 10:14 AM
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Funny thing is I interview people all the time for magazines and it wouldn't even occur to me to offer them money! But this person has nothing to gain from my interviewing her or from a book being published about her. She's happy to talk, though, so I guess I'll go with the signed book option!

Thanks all!
#5 - April 03, 2013, 10:35 AM

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No, I wouldn't pay.
#6 - April 03, 2013, 03:09 PM
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Sounds like you've already made up your mind about this, but I wanted to echo what Vijaya said. Entering into a monetary relationship with the subject of the book definitely sounds like a conflict of interest to me.
#7 - April 03, 2013, 03:17 PM

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Thanks, yes. Everyone's comments reaffirmed what I knew, really... I think it's partly because this woman is very old and I feel a bit worried that she'll wonder why she's letting me interview her.

But I'm sure it'll be fine! Thank you!
#8 - April 03, 2013, 03:59 PM

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I've never known an author to offer money to the subject of a bio. I don't think you can trust the integrity of the bio that way.
#9 - April 04, 2013, 08:16 AM
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