View Full Version : Do I show chapters before publication?

08-29-2005, 03:01 AM
A week ago, I began interviewing the first of 20 people I'm planning to profile in a non-fiction business book. He asked, before the interview began, if he could see the finished chapter. I said that would not be possible. He nodded, and joked that he could always sue me if he didn't like what came out in the wash. Everything seemed fine. We then did 2 hours of the interview. We were to do another two hours next week. But I guess later he had second thoughts about how loose his lips were. So he emailed me, saying that he would not participate further unless I agree to let him see the chapter about him prior to publication and allow him to suggest corrections, etc. --which I would be free to reject, as he would not have a veto.
So the dilemma is whether to agree to his conditions--against which every journalistic bone in my body protests--and get the remainder of the interview from him, or to refuse, and risk having him walk away from the tape-recorder. I should say that, while the first two hours were useful, the second two hours are crucial to having a full profile of his career.

With 20 chapters for 20 persons, no single interviewee is crucial to this book. Any one of them can be replaced. So I can risk losing him without rising the viability of the project. But he is one of the most interesting subjects and the best in his field.

But even more troubling than losing him is the concern that others may make similar demands of me. If I hold the line on "no peeking," others may walk away. I could then wind up losing participants to the point where the project would be compromised. On the other hand, if everyone who asks for a sneak peek is given one, that could be seen as selling out the integrity of the project--or would it? All my instincts tell me not to show chapters in advance of publication, but perhaps a journalist's instincts are not appropriate to an "author."

Your comments, pls…