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Writing Books/interviewing and the legalities


Hi Mr. Groner -

I am writing a book that will serve as an inspirational guide for teens/young adults who are/were products of a single parent home.  I want to include exerts from interviews I will conduct with those who have agreed (verbally) to participate.  The questions I have are as follows.  Do I need to (1) obtain a signed written permission to use their interview in my book? (2)compensate them? (3) If I get an artist I know to do my cover, would I have to get permission from him to use the work? Any information you provide would be a big help.  Thank you!

Thanks for your inquiry, Kimberly.

You do need written permission to use all or portions of an interview. Enter into your browser's search field the words "interview permission form" or "interview consent form" (without the quotation marks) and several samples will come up you can adapt to your needs. If your excerpts include material from interviewees 17 years of age or under, add a signature line to the permission form similar to: Signature of parent or guardian if participant is a minor. Consider asking a lawyer you know to review the permission form at no charge.

You do not need to compensate your interviewees. Be sure to include a non-compensation clause in the permission form.

Your best option for a cover artist is to pay for the services. If you find someone who will volunteer to do the work, get the artist to sign a permission form and give the artist credit in the front matter of your book.

Hire a professional editor to review your manuscript before publishing it as a book. This will cost several hundred dollars but it is well worth it for you to look like you know what you are doing. Ask your librarian for names of local manuscript editors or the name of a nearby writers' club where you could inquire. Be cautious about hiring online editors as many of them are amateurs. Ask for references.

Best wishes for every success.

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Wayne Groner


I can answer questions on all aspects of writing memoirs, biographies, family histories, and corporate histories including handling sensitive issues, interviewing, editing, self-publishing, and setting up a business as a memoir writer.


I have more than twenty-five years of experience as a radio and television news reporter, author, freelance writer, and workshop presenter. I present classes to nonprofits and professional groups, "How to Write Your Memoir or Life Story." I'm author of four nonfiction books. My latest book is A Guide to Writing Your Memoir or Life Story: Tools, Tips, Methods and Examples, available in paperback and eBook at Amazon. I'm past president of Springfield Writers' Guild (Missouri). My articles and book reviews on a variety of topics have been published in national magazines and on the Web. I was a senior-level college administrator for twenty-seven years, including nine years as a vice president, during which I wrote newsletters, brochures, magazine articles, and published and edited an alumni magazine.

Missouri Center for the Book, Springfield Writers' Guild, Greene County Historical Society, Christian County Historical Society.

Books: Witnesses of Hope, Faith, Love and Healing; Dumb Luck or Divine Guidance; The Pastor's Guide to Fund-raising Success; Levell-Drew Family History. National magazines including CASE Currents, Congregations, Ozarks Mountaineer, Your Community Hospice, Power and Light series of Sunday-school curriculum for adult learners.

Graceland College

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