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Question
Hello, I have just finished a book I had been working on for serveral years.  It is my personal account of my struggle and eventual survival with a depression.  I have had it critiqued by friends, realatives, college professors, and anyone else I could get to read it and all have encourged me to try to get it published. My questions are: Do I need to get a copyright before sending it to a publisher? Do I need an agent?  What are the legal aspects of using real names, or do I need to change the names of real people.  I have spent hundreds of hours on the internet and in libaries trying to find the answers to these question and I am now totally confused, please help.  Thank You  

Answer
Dear Genie,
Congratulations on writing your book. You can find more information about how to find a publisher posted at my site. http://steamboats.com/writing.html
You will also find some good writing books about how to get published.
I hope the information answers your questions, but I will give a few brief answers here.
You don't have to get your manuscript copyrighted before you send it out. Just type copyright [your name] on the cover page. Or "c. your name." If you send your book proposal to legitimate agents and publishers they will not steal your writing. If you are worried about it, you can always print out the manuscript and mail it to yourself. Leave it unopened and the postmark will show the date when you had the idea. You can also give the unopened envelope to an attorney to hold. Another way to do it is join a writer's group and register your idea with them. It is rare that a legitimate agent or publisher would steal a writer's idea, although it has been known to happen in the case of screenplays, especially.
re. agents. You would probably be better off trying the mid to small publishers yourself, without an agent. Most agents like to work with celebrities or people who have their own magazine column, or people who are in the news. Besides, if an agent takes your story it could end up lost on his or her desk for a year with no buyers. You have the motivation to sell your story, so it's probably better not to get a middle man involved.
You can use real names if it's your story and they are people who played a part in the story. Just make sure you portray them accurately. Also, make sure the publisher knows that you have used real names. The publisher will know the proper way to present it.
I hope this and the info. at my site helps.
Sincerely,
Nori

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Nori J. Muster

Expertise

Writing and publishing books, including e-books.

Experience

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 Amazon.com.

Organizations
Lakes of Tempe Authors, Tempe, Arizona

Publications
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


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

Awards and Honors
Interviews:
USA Today, Los Angeles Times, BBC World Services Focus on Faith, BBC Sunday Programme, Salon.com, 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), Rediff.com, 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, Rediff.com, Amazon.com.

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.

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

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