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Book quoting etiquette?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by WaylonJennings, Jul 31, 2008.

  1. An offshoot of the plagiarism thread:

    If you're writing a book with lots and lots of different sources - primary news sources from the initial event, autobiograpies of the participants, previous books and magazine articles that touched on the same topic - do you think you should have to cite every quote as you go along?

    I'm thinking that end notes do the trick most of the time, otherwise it just ends up sounding too messy and academic.
  2. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Not every source, but if you are quoting an book or autobiography you probably should.

    Smith wrote in his autobiography "Jock Itch" that the Podunk Plodders' locker room smelled like head cheese and looked like a rundown warehouse. Or maybe it smelled like a rundown warehouse and looked liked head cheese. Either way, it wasn't pretty.
  3. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    Nothing wrong with end notes -- if you need to cite it, you should cite it, whether it sounds "academic" or not. I think it lends some extra credibility if you're more transparent about your research/reporting. It's also more impressive if you've been able to find new facts, or piece together something interesting/relevant/important, from sources that, ideally, anybody can go through if they took the time and had the idea to do it. I think that's something to be proud of.

    Personally -- and I know I'm in the minority here, but there's more of us out there than you think -- I'm fascinated by end notes in a nonfiction book. Love to see where authors culled their information (especially if it's on a subject that I'm going to be writing about, too.) You can learn a lot from good end notes, and you can learn a lot about the writer's process, which of course I'm fascinated by, as well.

    And I also think it's a credit (and show of respect) to the authors of those sources if you cite their work.

    If you're going to use as many sources as I imagine you are ... I would err on the side of citing them. But that's just me.
  4. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    Another option, if you don't want to go through the hassle, is to have a sources page at the back and just list all your individual sources there without citations.

    It's not as rock-solid as citations, IMO, but at least you've given the reader a chance to know where you're getting your material.
  5. Yeah, Buck, I'm with you. I get frustrated when authors DON'T have end notes. I imagine publishers hack them out to cut costs. But I definitely would go with end notes at the very least - I'm just wondering if that's sufficient. I personally think in most cases it is - I guess it just comes down to a judgment call, but as a reader, I certainly would be distracted if I read, 600 times in a book, "Torre, according to a New York Post article the next day, decided to switch Rodriguez and Jeter in the order that day."
  6. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    Well, in that case, I think you can pretty much go with the idea that facts are facts. If the Post had a strong exclusive story that day, then you should give credit and cite it. But you don't need to source the fact that the lineup was switched -- the box score can tell you that.

    Cite anecdotes that you can't find anywhere else, cite quotes or exclusive stories, cite books or articles that propose an original idea/argument/opinion that aren't your own, etc.

    No need to cite basic facts.

    As far as how you word it, well, that's your job as a writer to keep it from getting bogged down. There are many ways to cite a source -- it doesn't have to sound boring and "academic."
  7. friend of the friendless

    friend of the friendless Active Member

    Sirs, Madames,

    I had one editor whose hands started to sweat if I pulled a quote of over 50 words. Seems like that is the line drawn for fair usage.

    I had another editor who pulled my acknowledgments at the last minute, no notice. Kept it quiet, like I wouldn't notice. I sh-t on the spot when the copies came in. Got it punched back in for the paperback though.

    YD&OHS, etc
  8. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    My god, I think I'd go ballistic. :eek:
    You handled it a little better, clearly.
  9. Monroe Stahr

    Monroe Stahr Member

    The university presses that publish sports books do a great job with footnotes, bibliographies and even indexes in the back of the book. God love 'em. Mainstream publishing houses are much more bottom-line conscious and tend to cut that stuff out. One of the rare exceptions was Maraniss' book on Lombardi, which Simon and Schuster did the right way (footnotes/bibliography/index). But most sports books aren't deemed "important" enough for such treatment.
  10. friend of the friendless

    friend of the friendless Active Member

    Mr Weaver,

    Years in anger management paying off.

    YD&OHS, etc
  11. The Timothy Leary bio by Robert Greenfield had a tremendous end note section.

    In terms of sports books, I recall that Joshua Prager's "The Echoing Green," as well as Jonathan Eig's recent Jackie Robinson book, particularly impressed me with their research citations in the back of the book.
  12. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    Good call on both of those. Prager's book was particularly compelling, because of how he compiled so much evidence and worked and worked and worked to break down Thomson and, finally, after all these years, get him to reveal that he took the stolen sign on that home run. Masterful storytelling.

    As for Eig, I was even more impressed with his research on "Luckiest Man." The stuff he gathered from the Mayo Clinic and Gehrig's medical records was truly phenomenal. Gave me a completely new appreciation for the man. One of the best bios I've ever read*.

    * But the best, in terms of research + writing, has to be "Rothstein," by David Pietrusza. Takes a while to get through, but you'll learn more than you ever wanted to know -- about a dozen different subjects, not just the man who engineered the 1919 WS fix. Can't recommend it enough.
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