EDITING 101: 49 – Using Quotes in Your Book and Research Tips – Part 2…

Using Quotes in Your Book and Research Tips – Part 2

In my last article, we started researching a quote in order to obtain permission to use it in my fictitious book. It became very long and involved, so I split it into two parts. See Part1 HERE:

We had identified the correct source of the quote previously. Now we’ll go on:

  • Now I have to find the publisher of the book where the quote was found in order to ask permission to use it in my book. Because Disney is such a large, important company with many lawyers in their back pocket, I decided to ask permission directly from Disney. If the publisher was a small business (that perhaps didn’t exist anymore), I would have followed the author’s trail of breadcrumbs and tried to contact him personally for permission.

  • In Googling “Disney Enterprises, Inc.,” I found conflicting information about the “official” CURRENT name of Disney’s conglomerate. The official Disney.com site was useless as a research source, since it only wanted me to visit their parks. One Wikipedia article contained a link that sent me to another Wikipedia article on “The Walt Disney Company.” The most recent information there told me that on February 5, 2015, it was announced that Tom Staggs had been promoted to COO (Chief Operating Officer). While I don’t want permission from him personally, this gave me a current starting place to find their address. Right-click look at Tom Staggs in Wikipedia, right-click look at original article (in Variety) footnoted on the Wikipedia site.

  • Neither of those pages gave me any additional information, but I did follow a link to a recent financial report. Unfortunately, it was also from Variety (not exactly the most respected research site) and didn’t provide anything valuable. I tried Googling “”Tom Staggs” COO address” and came up with an official Disney bio with a “Contact us” link. This may be a dead end, but I saved that email address in case I need it later. If I can’t find anything else, I can use that address to ask them whom I should contact within their company. Ok, back to Google!

  • Now that we know the official name of the company is “The Walt Disney Company,” and we know that most big companies have a “Permissions Department,” I combined them in a Google search and looked for an email or street address (yes, you may need to use snail mail to request permission). I used “”The Walt Disney Company” permissions address” and came up with how to get permission to sell items with Disney characters on them. Hmmm. Not exactly what I wanted. But I did find an official Disney company page with additional links, including, “Who do I contact to license Disney intellectual property such as still, images and textual excerpts (including Muppets) for use in non-moving productions?”

  • That sounded like a very good place to start, and they provided the name, telephone number, and email address of a paralegal who handles these things. She might not be the exact person I want, but it’s a foot in the door. She may either tell me who to contact or forward my email to the correct person. And even if I never hear back from her, I’ve found an official Disney page with lots of additional business-type links at the bottom. And I still have that “Contact Us” general email address I found earlier.

Obviously, researching quotes (or any other information) is not an easy task. Keeping track of what you’ve found so far (and where you found it) is the most important key to not becoming completely lost and frustrated. Save your research Notepad/Wordpad/Word document in case you need to backtrack (now or later) and may need those website addresses again. Saving the information will also help you remember where you were in the search process if you need to stop and then come back to your research.

Keep track of whom you emailed (or snail mailed) and on what date. Give them all the pertinent details: what quote you want to use, who said it, where it was printed, publication date, ISBN number, what your book title is, what it is about, etc. The more succinct information you give them, the more likely you’ll get a response. If you haven’t heard back from them in two to three weeks, try again. If you don’t hear back in another two to three weeks, assume you’ve hit a dead end and go back to researching, or try your second option (if you have one).

Since searching for information and waiting for permission takes a lot of time, these tasks should be handled well before your estimated publication date.

If you obtain permission, keep that record, both in electronic form and a printed copy. They may request a fee or a percentage of your sales—after all, this is a business arrangement. Clarify with them exactly how they want the quote referenced.

Everyone’s thought process works differently. What made sense to me to search for may not be what makes sense to you! Perhaps another person could have come up with the information more quickly than I did by following another trail. This is just one example of how to conduct research on the Internet.

Next week we’ll discuss ‘Using Another Language in Your Manuscript’

To see the index and catch up with missed episodes of this series – CLICK HERE


This series is not meant to be (nor will it be) simple static information.

I’ll be here for each post to answer questions, offer suggestions as necessary, and interact with you.

If there’s something you specifically want (or need!) to see addressed in terms of self-editing, please let me know in the comments under this, or any of the articles of the series.





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12 thoughts on “EDITING 101: 49 – Using Quotes in Your Book and Research Tips – Part 2…

  1. Thanks Susan for both articles. I just want to add my experience in that some publication permissions exclude: electronic forms of publication; distribution in various countries.
    I decided that certain quotes weren’t essential for my book as I intended to publish in various e-formats in addition to print, and I wanted my book available in the countries that would have been excluded if the quotes stayed. I found these exclusions when I approached the publisher of the book I wanted quote. Because I had initially contacted the author who had kindly given permission I received the author’s permission to include them in acknowledgements even though I didn’t use a quote but because the particular ideas in that part of my book were from that author’s work.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks for yet another excellent step-by-step, Susan. The only thing you didn’t say was – if you’re sure you got to the right place, and still got nowhere, consider using an alternative quote.
    I had a similar issue looking for permission to use a particular picture for my dad’s memoirs. I knew I had the right people (after a lot of tracking through one company buyout after another) partly because I had the link in a separate research thread from the local aviation society who even knew the person well. In the end I used another pic.
    Using another language next, eh? That’ll be fun. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’re right, Jemima. I didn’t even mention that. Yes, sometimes you may do all that research just to have your request ignored—or denied! Or it’s an outrageous amount of money. An author I know wanted to show the cover of a Dr. Seuss book in her children’s book and quote the opening lines. Whoever-it-is-that-owns-the-rights gave her permission, but charged her a fair amount of money and the release was only good for a limited amount of time. Recently she needed to reprint the book and, rather than ask permission again and pay another fee, decided to eliminate the photo and lines. :/

      Liked by 3 people


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