John Peragine is a freelance writer and author of ten non-fiction books, through Atlantic Publishing. When he offered to tell us about his experiences with an awesome resource for writers, I couldn’t refuse. Thanks, John!
When I was writing 101 Recipes for Making Wild Wines at Home: A Step-by-Step Guide to Using Herbs, Fruits, and Flowers and The Complete Guide to Making Your Own Wine at Home: Everything You Need to Know Explained Simply, I decided to contact some winemakers to add some professional expertise to my books.
I make my own wine, but I wanted to include some really credible people in the book, and needed to find winemakers to interview.
I used Help A Reporter Out (HARO), a website that connects writers with expert sources, so they can conduct research for books, newspapers, magazines and blogs.
I posted a request for assistance from winemakers, and immediately received replies from all over the world.
Based on my experience, here are some tips to consider if you decide to use HARO:
- Select the most appropriate sources for your project. I went through my email and focused on the responses from wineries that I was really interested in, and sent back replies.
- Be specific about your needs. Many of the larger winemakers had publicists I had to go through. I threw them the pitch for my book and let them know what I would need from their clients. The results were outstanding. I was able to secure 1-2 hour interviews with some of the most influential winemakers on the planet.
- Be prepared. I wrote 20 questions ahead of time for each of the interviews so I was prepared. During the interview, I allowed the winemakers to talk about their winery and their impressive credentials, but I always brought them back to the questions I needed for the book.
- Remember legal concerns. I made sure they signed a release so I could use the interviews and photos in my book.
- Keep helpful records. I recorded each of these sessions with their permission so I could have a conversation with them, and really concentrate on what they were saying, instead of being restricted by my own framework.
One of the best contacts and the highlight of my interviews was the opportunity I had to speak with John Langley, the creator of the television show COPS. He owns and operates a small winery in Argentina called Urraca Wines, with his children. I could have talked to him all day.
I was so nervous before speaking with him, which was complicated by the fact that I had to reschedule the interview with his publicist three times because of his production schedule. When we finally did connect, it was like talking to an old friend.
The biggest perk of these connections was that the publicists all sent cases of wine and champagne for me to sample.
This was a writer’s dream!
Editor’s note: What topics have you needed to research for your writing? Would you consider using a service like HARO? Are there other great research tools you can recommend?
Check out John Peragine‘s books 101 Recipes for Making Wild Wines at Home: A Step-by-Step Guide to Using Herbs, Fruits, and Flowers, The Complete Guide to Making Your Own Wine at Home: Everything You Need to Know Explained Simply, and others at his website.
Join the discussion
Thanks so much for allowing me to post a guest blog. I guess it was so complete, that no one had a question! HA
Thanks again for this wonderful post, John! I’d never heard of HARO before, so it’s fantastic to know what’s out there.
And yes, I think you’re right about being complete!
That’s sounds great…would it work for fiction? I have American Indian characters in my book. While, I have done a lot of research, I still feel out of my depth–mainly because I’m not Indian. I’m going to have to look into HARO. Unfortunately, I do not think I will be getting wine or champagne out of the deal. 😉
I’m not sure if it would work for fiction (maybe John will pop up to answer your question at some point). I think the idea is that those giving out expert advice are doing so for the potential of free advertising–in John’s case, wine makers were getting free advertising by giving him information for his book, where I assume the companies were acknowledged.
I suppose a fiction writer wouldn’t be able to give such overt advertising, so you might be unable to find people to respond to your queries. Of course, it couldn’t hurt to try!
Yes I beleive you can use it for research for fiction books. Basically it connects to people that are experts in various fields that offer their time and expertise to those who need it.