I was looking at an earlier article I wrote, Six Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Personal Historian, and realized that I’d missed three important questions.
- What is your specialty? Be leery of anyone who answers, “Oh, I like to work on everything – books, video, audio – you name it!” It’s true that there are personal historians who are multi-talented and produce more than one type of product. But even if that is the case, I’d ask what the personal historian enjoys working on the most. Chances are that she will have a preference and if her preference doesn’t match yours, then I’d want to see some concrete examples of her work. Bottom line – if you want a book produced, it makes sense to hire someone who has a track record making books. Similarly, if you want a DVD, hire a personal historian whose specialty is video.
- How long have you been a personal historian? There isn’t a magical number of years of experience that turns someone into a seasoned personal historian. But I’d prefer to hire someone who had been working professionally for at least a couple of years. The longer a personal historian has been working, the more experience he will have and the more samples of his work he will also have for your perusal. On the other hand if a personal historian is just starting out, you might be able to work out a discount depending on what he’s charging.
- What attracted you to this work? There isn’t any right answer to this question. What you want to be wary of is a reply that sounds too pat, contrived, or rehearsed. Listen for an answer that suggests that this work resonates deeply with this person. For instance, she may have a compelling story to tell about the path that led her to become a personal historian.
Photo by Massimiliano Giani