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Writing Books/Protecting a book idea..



A friend and I came up with (what I think is) a great book idea. It's a collection of personal stories on a certain topic. I'm just not sure how we can protect the idea from being stolen.. and also the legalities of collecting and publishing stories from people around North America. Would we have to pay them? or have them sign something? Would a lawyer be able to draw something like that up for us?

Thank for your time/help.

Dear Sadiya,
Thank you for your questions. When you collect stories from people, it would be a good idea to get them to sign a release. It could say something like, "I [name] give permission to [author's name] to use my story for a forthcoming book." [signature, date]
You can have an attorney draft it up, or you could probably find a legal form letter online or in a book. Check with the writers' organizations.
Do your best to present each person's story as they tell it and pay attention to the facts and spirit of the story. That is the most important legal precaution you can take. You probably don't have to pay anyone, since most people love to tell their stories and see their stories in print. Also, don't invest a lot of money in the book because in general books don't earn a lot of money. The main reason to write a book is to open doors for you.
Also, I encourage you to do a thorough literature review to see what similar books are already out there. To attract a good publisher, your book has to offer something new that hasn't been done before.
At my site I have posted an article on how to find a publisher.
re. protecting your idea. One way to do it is to write out your idea and mail it to yourself. Then keep the envelope unopened. If there's any question later on, you can show the envelope as proof of when you got the idea. You can also give the envelope to an attorney to hold. Another way to do it is to join a writer's group and register your idea with them.
However, in general, nobody will steal your idea, as long as you only show it to legitimate agents and publishers who welcome unsolicited inquiries. It's easier for them to buy your book than to go out and reinvent the wheel (and risk being sued).
I hope this helps,

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Nori J. Muster


Writing and publishing books, including e-books.


I have been writing for publication since 1981, including years as a staff writer, associate editor, editorial writer, and freelance reporter. At this time, I have eight Kindle books for sale at

Lakes of Tempe Authors, Tempe, Arizona

Betrayal of the Spirit: My Life behind the Headlines of the Hare Krishna Movement
Dreaming Peace: Your Thoughts Can Change the World
Cult Recovery Handbook: Seven Paths to an Authentic Life
Child of the Cult
Learning to Flow with the Tao: The 64 Hexagrams of the I Ching
Positive Quotations: Wisdom from the Master Mind
Collected Writings: Five Books by Nori Muster
Noriland Art Gallery: Secrets from the Vault
Spiritual Summer and Other Short Stories

UCLA Extension Writer's Program, 1988 - 1994
Master's Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, Western Oregon University, 1991

Awards and Honors
USA Today, Los Angeles Times, BBC World Services Focus on Faith, BBC Sunday Programme,, Glamour Magazine, Portland Mercury News, W-Five TV (Toronto), Publisher's Weekly, Boston Phoenix, San Francisco Chronicle, ABC TV News - 20/20, ABC radio, Associated Press, The Age (Melbourne),, The New York Times, Religious News Service, Dallas Morning News, Columbia Journalism School, Whole Life Times (Los Angeles), Toronto Sun, the John Dayle Show (KFYI AM, Phoenix), the Eliot Stein Show (syndicated radio and Internet broadcast), Discovery with Josh Wagner (KKUP, 91.5 FM, Santa Clara, California), KOGO (News Radio 600, San Diego), Jupiterís Girl syndicated radio show, Lakes Log.

Book Reviews:
Publisherís Weekly, Feminist Bookstore News, Yoga Journal, New York Post, Choice Magazine, Boston Herald, Nexus (Colorado), Gentle Strength Times, Coastlines (UCSB alumni), Theology Digest, Nova Religio, Rapport, India West,,

Book Signings:
Prescott College reunion; Gentle Strength Co-op, Tempe; Different Drummer Bookshop, Laguna Beach; L.A. Times Toastmasters; Biltmore Plaza Border's Books, Phoenix; Bodhi Tree Bookstore, Los Angeles; Health & Life Enrichment Expo, Pasadena; Sacramento Reads book festival, and others.

ISKCON World Review, Van Dhal Publications, Gentle Strength Times, Arizona Woman, Lakes Log, ICSA Today, Cultic Studies Review, University of Illinois Press, Kindle,,, Apple Books, and others.

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