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Nonfiction & permission

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I've been sitting on a nonfiction picture book idea after hearing a news story last year. I've written a couple of early drafts mainly just for practice.
One worry is that the viralness of the story may have made a picture book on the topic obsolete. But young kids don't tend to follow the media that closely and I really do think it would make a great story for kids. I'm just wondering how I should be approaching the manuscript.
Do I need permission from the person? I have no problem asking for permission, but I have no idea how to go about obtaining it. Or how to contact this person.
#1 - June 15, 2015, 09:26 AM
https://marlalesage.com/
PIRATE YEAR ROUND (Acorn Press, 2019)

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I think this is one of those every situation is different things. Is the person public? Is the media that exists public domain? Would your story be improved by interviewing the participants? All of this impacts your needs for the story. Consult an attorney on the legalities.

You could look the person up and send an e-mail explaining who you are, why you'd like to tell the tale in this manner and what your credentials, if any, are. The worst thing that happens is you get no as an answer.
#2 - June 15, 2015, 11:29 AM
Website: http://www.debbievilardi.com/
Twitter: @dvilardi1

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Ask for permission, why you want to write about them, the opportunity to interview, take photographs, etc. The worst that the person can say is no. However, if the information is in the public domain, I don't see why you cannot write about this event. As long as the story is inspiring and not of a slanderous nature, I can't imagine anybody getting upset. But people have all kinds of reasons -- some are very private, etc. etc. Do consult a lawyer about this.

I do write about people's work and I don't ask for their permission. Sometimes they don't even grant me an interview because I'm writing for kids, or the deadline is tight. But the things that they have written count as primary sources and the things that have been written about are secondary sources and all this is in the public domain, and I do make sure to cross-reference facts through other sources. Publishers also use independent fact checkers.

As Debbie says, ask. The worst that can happen is a no and then you can mull whether you still want to pursue this.

Vijaya

#3 - June 15, 2015, 03:36 PM
BOUND (Bodach Books, 2018)
TEN EASTER EGGS (Scholastic, 2015)
www.vijayabodach.blogspot.com
Author of over 60 books and 60 magazine pieces

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This is a doubt I've had for a long time too. Thank you for your explanations, Debbie and Vijaya!
#4 - August 15, 2015, 06:40 AM

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