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Writing Books/Beginning Writer

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Question
I've always thought of writing a book(s) yet, never had I put into action this idea. Now, as a college student and self-supporting single woman I realize the potential in writing.
I don't know where to begin though and searching for guidance...
- how do I format a book for a publishers' liking
- what "special things" do publishers' look for in a new writer's story (fiction or non-fiction)
- where do you find ideas to start writing (fictional books more so than non-fictional)
Basically because I'm just now doing research on "writing books" I have lots of questions, more than I probably know to ask. If you could help me with the questions above and any other info you find important to share that would be greatly appreciated.
By the way, I'm leaning towards more "christian fictional books" more so than "secular fictional books"

Answer
Dear Tracy,
Thank you for your letter. At my site I have posted some resources for writers, see:
http://steamboats.com/writing.html
The Fiction Writer's Workshop should help you get started on a fiction book. If you want to write non-fiction, go to the "good writing books" link and check out "Writing the Natural Way," "The Elements of Style," and "On Writing Well." The last one, especially, is valuable for any sort of writing you do.
Also, let me warn you that writing does not pay very much money. There are other reasons to write a book besides money, though, and you say it's something you've always wanted to do. Therefore, I recommend that you write something that suits yourself, rather than worry about what publishers are looking for. There is no one type of book that they want, rather each publisher is looking for something different. If you write something that's true to yourself, then there's a good chance someone else will like it too.
I hope this helps.
Sincerely,
Nori

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