I get a lot of requests related to my Expat Harem book and other productions that I wish I had the time to say yes to.
Sometimes I get requests that I would have said yes to if the requester had spent a little more time setting it up. Make it really easy!
I heard from a travel writer developing a story about her own cross-cultural family experiences who needed expert sources to flesh out her query to an unnamed publishing venue. She gave me four questions to answer.
Four questions is a lot to ask, but her email gave me even more things to wonder.
Which venues she was pitching and by when did she need my answers?
I wondered why she was seeking an expert quote for a personal story (expert quotes in a pitch usually point to experts you're going to interview if you get the assignment). That would be like using my material to land an assignment to write about her own life! If she were to be assigned the piece, was she planning to interview me in more depth? It would have been good to hear that she only needed a one sentence answer for -- any of -- those questions.
An expert would want to see how she was going to be described in the query. This could be done by telling me why I am being approached. For instance, "because you wrote about your Turkish in-laws in the Expat Harem book and in Cornucopia magazine." Or, it would be nice to be asked to point to a description I prefer.
Assume people want to help. Just cover your bases and keep the ask as small as you can, so they can.
P.S. Be gracious when someone says no. When I let this travel writer know I wouldn't be able to help her out and explained what questions her pitch brought up for me, she let me know how sorry I was going to be for not doing what she asked.