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Question
Hi,  I am a woman in my 50s and I've been wanting to get my life story published for quite a few years.  I had a horrific childhood filled with every level of abuse.  I live with the aftermath of that every day of my life.  The abuse is still going on albeit there are facets of the abuse that have ceased for various reasons.  I work full time in a legal assistant capacity and because of the content of what the writing entails, I am finding it hard to get the book finished.  I have alot of it written out already, but at this point it is unorganized and in desperate need of attention.  Could you lead me in the right direction to either Canadian, US publishers, and/or ghost writers, or people that help you to complete a work?In what types of situations do publishers advance a writer a sum of money to complete a book?  Any information and/or advice you could provide to me is greatly appreciated.  Thank you for your time.

Answer
Hello Karen:

If there are any US or Canadian publishers who will "help [you] complete [your] work," I don't know of them. I don't keep up with the publishing world - my expertise is with the writing itself - but my understanding is that a first time author, which I assume you are, must look very hard to find even an agent who will help you finish your work. Their business is selling MS and generally expect that you will not approach them until you have a finished MS to present.

I hate to be the bearer of unfortunate news, but a first time writer can't expect much of an advance from a publisher, and if the sales of the book do not make the advance back for the publisher, you will be expected to pay back the difference. Publishing these days is a business, and how many copies your book can be expected to sell (in the opinion of the publisher, who knows about these things), determines, first, whether your book will be accepted, and second, how much of an advance you will get, if any.

OK, now for the good news. There are plenty of people (ghost writers) out there who will gladly help you finish your book, for a fee. I perform this service myself, through my website, http://pygmypress.com. In my opinion, what you need is a mentor. A mentor will guide you through the organization of your book, and make sure that when finished, your MS will represent the best work of which you are currently capable of writing. In the process, you will learn a lot about book-writing.

I hope this helps. If it does, a nice rating would be greatly appreciated. I am proud of my high scores  over 1900 questions.

And thank you for writing!  

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Susan Rand

Expertise

I can answer questions about the elements of fiction and non-fiction writing: how to get started, writing techniques, re-writing, etc. I will NOT write for you, do critiques except from my website at http://pygmypress.com, or give you ideas. I will not answer home-or-schoolwork questions in any category. If English is your second language, please say so, and I will make an exception. Please submit no more than one or two questions at once, as I tend to go into detail in my answers.

Experience

I wrote my first book in 1957 and have been writing and studying writing since. I have a BA in Written Communications, and have taught writing both privately and through adult education for 15 years. Have also edited (fiction books) for an online publisher and edited/wrote more than 100 articles for a teen sex education site. Currently writing web content and mentoring beginning writers.

Education/Credentials
BA degree in Written Communication

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