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Writing Books/where to i start?

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Question
How do I organize a book? it is a "how i succeeded" book with innovative information.  I'm the ghostwriter, did the interviews, now i have the information and dont know where to start.

Also, when should I get a manuscript evaluation, critique?

Is my book idea sellable?

How much money can I expect to make compared to the time I must put into a book?

How can I publish this book and when do I need an agent and how do I find one?

Is it harder for first-time authors and how do I find a publisher?

How do I promote my book?  

Answer
Dear Phyllis,
Thank you for your letter and congratulations on starting a new project. It can be daunting, can't it?
If this is an autobiography into fiction project, I recommend starting with the Fiction Writer's Workshop posted at my site, see:
http://steamboats.com/writing.html
If it's non-fiction, I recommend starting with the book, Writing the Natural Way, posted on my "good writing books" link on that page.
re. manuscript evaluation. Usually writers have a "first reader," that person who goes over what they write. Some writers have several first readers to choose from, depending on what they're writing and what type of feedback they're looking for. If you  lack first readers, then you can pay someone to evaluate it (I can do that, see my web page above), or you can join a writer's group or writing class. The more writers you know, the easier these things get. Surround yourself with other writers in a class or group and you will get the feedback you need, plus lots of encouragement. Even an online class can be helpful. Sometimes it is useful to get a professional evaluation, too.
A note of caution: Don't give your writing to someone who is jealous of you or can't be trusted. Don't give it to anyone who may be critical of you like a relative, spouse, etc. I hardly ever show my writing to my guy, but certain projects he can give good advice. You can ask a friend to read it, but always take advice with a grain of salt. You can get something out of every bit of criticism, but you have to weigh it against your own feelings, too.
re. Is your book sellable. Give me your pitch and I'll give you feedback.
re. How much money. Hopefully you'll make some money on it, but it goes like this. If you go with a traditional publisher (a good idea), they will offer to pay you between 5 - 15% of the cover price. The money may come in the form of an advance (based on the first printing) and royalties (if the book goes into a second edition). Usually it works out to about 50 cents - $1 per book. An unknown first-time author usually sells between 1,000 - 5,000 books.  If you go with self-publishing (not a good idea for a first-time writer), then you get the difference between your printing cost and what you earn from selling the books. Write back if you want to know why this isn't good for first-time authors.
re. is finding a publisher harder for first-time authors. No, it's harder every time until you have a following. The first time is no harder than the second time. That's the good news and the bad news.
re. promotion. The main thing is to get out and talk about your book. There are several great books on how to do book promotion. You need to have something about this in your book proposal, but you still have a little while before you need to worry about that.
I hope this helps.
Write back if you want, after you have looked over the materials at my site.
Sincerely,
Nori

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