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Monday, January 2, 2012

Leaning on an Expert

You decide to write a nonfiction article for children.  You research a topic using reliable sources: newspaper and journal articles as well as current books and websites.  After you’ve written your article, you edit it for grammar and enlist the aid of someone you trust to review your work.   All done and ready to submit to an editor?  Not yet.  Have you checked your facts? 

One of the best ways to have your facts verified is through an expert.  Search the Internet to see if you can locate and contact one of the sources you have used in your research.  Ask her politely if she would have time to review your piece for accuracy.  Mention your topic, the audience, and the publication for which you plan to pitch.  Thank her for her consideration and add that you’d give her credit for her expertise. 

It’s your choice whether you use an expert or not; however, I highly recommend it.  From my experience as a writer, I learned the hard way that some Internet sources and even some “reliable” print sources are not always trustworthy.  In fact, if it hadn’t been for an expert who had reviewed one of my articles, I may have submitted a piece that contained some erroneous information.  Likewise, from the standpoint as an editor, I would recommend that authors have their work reviewed by an expert.  Knowing a manuscript has been evaluated by an expert gives me faith that the facts have been accurately presented. 

Keep in mind that experts can offer you more than just checking the facts.  They can point out material that ought to be re-worded or omitted.  They can provide better explanations and more in-depth views on the topic that you may not have found through your research.  They can offer you some amazing quotes in which their personalities shine through—and editors love that!

Mentioning in a cover letter that your manuscript has been reviewed by an expert will impress an editor.  She’ll know that she can count on your research.  In fact, she may be more likely to send you an acceptance.  She’ll know that you’ve gone the extra mile to make sure your facts are correct. 

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