So far this year, I have had three nonfiction authors ask me about citing sources in their eBooks. And all three of them have had to go back and hunt down sources that they found many moons ago.
You can avoid this headache by keeping track of your sources from the beginning.
Why do you have to cite your sources?
I know this is a hard pill to swallow, but if you research a topic and provide that information to your audience without citing the source, then you lose your credibility as an author. Readers cannot trust that you remember what you read months or even years ago and that you can provide that information accurately.
Aside from losing your ethos, you would not want someone to read your book, be inspired to write their own, and pass your thoughts off as their own without citing your work. You might want to brush up on the definitions of plagiarism if it has been a couple of years since you have heard that term.
Some authors believe that their books should only contain their thoughts and opinions, but your readers will be more likely to see your side of things when you provide facts, statistics, and other research to back up your claims.
For example, if you are writing about PTSD in military personnel and say, "From my experience in the Army, it seemed like most of the people had PTSD" then go ahead and research PTSD in military personnel and give your readers a statistic to help show the scope of the issue. Cite the source from which you got that statistic so your readers
How do you know what information to cite?
If you had to look something up, then you probably need to cite it. Direct quotes and statistics need to be cited. Introductory phrases such as "Research suggests" or "According to psychologists" or "Studies show" or "I remember reading" need corresponding sources.
How do you keep track of your sources?
Since most sources are electronic now, simply copy and paste each URL at the end of your document. I can take care of formatting your footnotes and bibliography.
What happens if I need an editor but have not cited my sources?
As your copy editor, I can highlight sentences that require sources so that you can go back and try to find that source. If you can't find the source, I can help you find new sources that provide similar information. But if you are not willing to work with me to find and cite your sources, then I am not the right editor for you.
Alora D. Boerner
Freelance copy editor serving nonfiction writers, small business owners, and job seekers.