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Need Research for Your Book? Hire an Intern

Here I am in the Grand Ballroom of the Fairmont Copley Hotel with Intern Extraordinaire Rachel Horwitz, just after the Advanced Workshop Rusty Shelton and I led on social media and blogging for authors. Rachel did research, helped me prepare and even ran next door to make photocopies when our workshop got oversubscribed beyond the planned limit!

Research can be one of the most time consuming parts of book writing–and  can put the kibosh on the whole idea. How freeing would it be to find someone else to do that research for you?

Here are a few things you need to know when hiring an intern:

1. Often, universities have an online form to fill out and students can read about your project. Check out some local colleges (although they don’t need to be local to do research, it may be helpful to simplify your parameters).

2. Some colleges even have “for credit” internships where you may not need a to pay for the assistance. However, you need to be sure you’ll be teaching the student through the internship: if the position requires them to do everything themselves without supervision and training, it probably won’t quality as a for-credit internship, nor should it.

3. Make sure you get references. A poor intern can take more time than doing the research yourself. A great intern is worth their weight in gold (I have a great intern!).

4. You might also ask colleagues if they know of a bright, skilled college or high school student.

5. If you’re paying the student, you may want to do a test run and give them a small project to see how they do with it. This can save valuable time for both of you, especially if it doesn’t work out, you won’t have invested too much. In a for credit internship, you probably can’t do the test run.

6. Here are questions to ask references:

– Would you hire this person for a job?

– What are their strengths?

– What areas do they need to work on?

– Did they complete projects on time?

– Did they show up for all meetings?

– Are they self-directed or do they require a great deal of supervision?

We have a wonderful student intern at Write Your Book, University of Rhode Island student Rachel Horwitz. You’ll be hearing from Rachel over the next week as she shares some gems from Harvard Medical School’s CME publishing course.

If you’ve hired an intern, any advice you would add? If you haven’t, any questions you have about hiring an intern to help research your book?

Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Rachel says

    Thank you for the kind review, Lisa! Working with you has been a pleasure and I will certainly come away with volumes of writing, coaching, and publishing industry knowledge!

  2. Stacy Corrigan says

    Hi Lisa,

    This article came at the perfect time! I just emailed a marketing professor I worked with previously at Johnson and Wales to find a student interested in helping me with my research project for my book. I loved your points about considering the same questions as if you were hiring them. I am going to do a paid gig for my intern and will trust that I will be led to the right person, but concise questioning helps to weed out that person. I just talked with a client about how they hired a friend to help them with their accounts receivable and the person wasn’t qualified at all and it was a complete waste of time, so your points are right on!

    Warmly
    STACE

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