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Question
I have an idea of who I want as characters but I have no idea how to organize my book as for as the series of events. When you decide that you want to write a book, do you sit down and write out how the story is going to go or do you make it up as you go along? I also have a problem with falling in love with books that I have read and taking the story from the book and copying the story line but in my own words. How do you come up with an idea, organize it and when I am done, who do I give it to? Do I type it or what? Once you do send it to someone, how does the publishing work? Do you get paid for the work or do you get paid after the book sells? Are there any up front out of pocket cost and how do you find a publisher? Thank you so much for answering my questions and you have a great day!

Answer
Dear Kacee,
Thank you for our letter. At my site i have posted the Fiction Writer's Worksho.
http://steamboats.com/writing.html
That should help you organize and plan your story. Some authors make it up as they go along, while others have a plot in mind before they start writing. Usually it's somewhere in between.
When you get a first draft, you might want to immediately start editing it, or you might want to show it to a friend for feedback. Try to choose a friend who has some experience in writing and editing. Don't choose someone who will try to discourage you.
When you have a book (or when it's well underway), then you start to send out letters of inquiry. You can find more information about this in my article, How to Find a Publisher, at the same URL.
I don't recommend self-publishing for new authors, but rather you sell your manuscript to a publisher. Some publishers pay you an advance (when you sign and turn in the completed manuscript) or royalty (additional earnings from books sold). Advance or royalty; writing books doesn't pay a lot at first, so most writers also have a "day job" to put food on the table while they're working their way into the publishing world. Once you have a couple of successful books, you can go full-time as a writer. You'll know when the time is right.
Good day jobs don't take too much of your energy, so you will still have time to write. However, if you go into a career that involves writing, such as journalism, law, education, research, etc., then you can start to build a reputation as a writer and work toward becoming a full-time writer.
re. getting ideas. It's not good to copy someone else's story. However, you can go back to the archetypal behind the story story and do a new version of it. You can find an explanation and a list of archetypes at my other classroom:
http://surrealist.org/norimuster/classroom.html
The hero is a good example of a story that many authors have reimagined and reinvented over thousands of years. If you have a story that you admire, try to trace back what archetype it's expressing and then base your story on that. For example, the story of Cinderella has been done over and over. Study up on world myths and folk tales too.
Another good way to get ideas is to keep a journal. Write down every idea you get, then when you're looking for ideas, remember to look through your old journals.
I hope this helps. Feel free to write back if you have any follow-up questions.
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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