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I was hoping I can get your advice or maybe pointed in the right direction.  When writing a book, if the writer decides to conduct interviews to help him/her write the book, is there a written agreement that would have to be presented to the interviewee in order to summarize their statement to be used in the book?  Or could one just ask for permission verbally?

Kind Regards,

Enrique Ayala

Dear Enrique,

In this case, every situation is different: however, most people will ask that you sign a "non-disclosure agreement," which basically states that you agree to keep the answers to their questions confidential (outside of your interview, which you will reproduce in your book, of course). This is a pretty regular occurrence when writing a non-fiction book, in particular.

However, if you are conducting general, basic interviews in order to provide research or statistics on some subject related to a feature-style article or book, then agreements are not as necessary, but those interviewed should always be cited as "sources" in either the bibliography or the footnotes, i.e., however you arrange your book.

The best practice is probably to err on the side of caution -- and Copyright safety -- for all concerned, which protects you and the interviewee(s). Your best bet here is to offer to create and sign an NDA, which the interviewee(s) should also sign and date, as well, for good record-keeping purposes, and also to protect you both from any future disagreements about what was said, which could then lead to libel, etc.

I certainly hope that helps, and thanks for writing.

All Best,
Catherine Van Herrin

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Catherine Van Herrin


I am an American-born, native English speaker with a BA in English and more than 26 years of professional editing, writing, and proofreading experience. I have edited several books and book-length manuscripts. References and titles available upon request.

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