“How Do I Get Approval to Use Other People’s Quotes in My Book?”


The questions have been pouring in for Publishing Coach Weekly! (Get the call-in information and ask your question up here.)

Here’s a question recently asked by Loretta:

“As a first time published author, is it possible to get an approval from another author to use their quote in your book, or is it best to avoid quoting other sources on the first try?”

Yes, it is quite possible, but it depends on how extensively you are quoting the person. Read this article on the interpretation of fair use of other people’s works.

Once you determine whether your quoted material falls into “fair use,” the next step is to contact the author. Most authors would be very happy that you found their work important enough to quote, and are glad for the extra exposure.

I’m assuming, of course, that you will be giving full credit to the author (name, name of the work from which you’re quoting, publishing info such as who published the book, and date).

One of the keys of “fair use” standards is

how much and how you use another person’s work. Generally you can use short quotes with attribution without even asking for permission, especially if it gives the other author added status or positive exposure. My book, Abundant Gifts, has a very short quote for every entry, and I did not have to ask for permission for those, nor did I even contact the authors.

However, in Abundant Gifts I also included a few stories from other books that I really thought fit the book. In those cases, I asked permission from the authors.

Sometimes I had to get formal permission from the publisher and pay a fee. If you are using someone’s work extensively in a case like that, you need to write not only the author for permission, but the publisher as well. Permission to reprint fees vary; they can be $25 to $250, depending on what you want to quote, and the publisher’s policies.

If the author you want to quote is self-published, they would probably own full rights and can grant you permission and charge a fee (or not) at their discretion.

Make sure you get everything in writing, needless to say.

To summarize, it’s always good to contact the author, even if it’s a short quote.  You may connect with someone who will help promote your book. Make sure you give full credit. Get any permission in writing. If you’re quoting extensively, be prepared to pay a fee (offer it even if you’re only dealing with the author; they may turn it down, but your offer will show good will.)

If it’s all too much of a hassle (as in, you can’t get in touch with the author), then consider leaving out the quote.

(Comments welcome! And don’t forget to ask your own question and attend the Publishing Coach Weekly teleseminar, or listen to the replay.)