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Writing Books/Book with real life stories

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Question
Hello,

 I would like to put together  a collection of real life stories.These stories are from a wide range of people.(Format like the chicken soup books). What type of form would I need to get permission to use the story? Would I need a certain type of lawyer?

Do I write the book and submit to publishers?
Is there a way to protect the idea for book?

What is the first step in writing a book?

Thank you so much for helping.

Have a wonderful day.

Charlene Banks


Answer
Dear Charlene,
Thank you for your questions. It sounds like you have a creative idea for a book.
When you collect people's stories, make sure it is clear to them that their stories may become part of a book. You can do this by having them sign a  statement that says something like, "I acknowledge that my story may be used in a forthcoming book by Charlene Banks. I grant permission for Charlene Banks to use my story." It can be as simple as that. You can consult an attorney if you feel it's necessary. The main problem would be if you promised people money, but didn't deliver it, or if you took their story and then changed it, but put their real name on it.
As far as publishing, I have posted an article called "How to Find a Publisher" at my page for wrtiers:
http://steamboats.com/writing.html
It's just the basics, as there are whole books on the subject. Read it over and if you have any further questions, write back.
Publishing is a competitive field. In your inquiry letter, you will need to point out why your book is different from the Chicken Soup series, and how your book will compete with that highly successful series.
One way to protect your book idea is to write it all down, then mail it to yourself. Keep the envelope sealed and the cancellation will show the date. You can keep the envelope or give it to your attorney to keep for you. If anyone else starts to use your idea, you can prove that you thought of it first. Another way to do this is to join a literary group like the Writers Guild and register your idea with them.
However, if you are careful to only send your inquiry to legitimate agencies and publishers who welcome unsolicited inquiries, there is practically no chance that they will steal your idea.
The first step in writing your book would be to start collecting stories. You can then organize them and write the necessary text to fill in the structure of the book.
I hope this helps. Write back if you have more questions after reading the materials at my site.
Sincerely,
Nori

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