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I plan to seek out another author to work on a school counseling book. What should I do to protect myself from another author taking the idea before we complete the project and publishing it as their sole work?

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    Most books make no money in which case the point is moot. However, if you are truly concerned, you could seek out an attorney and draw up a contract. – Stu W Feb 19 '16 at 4:35
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    We get a lot of questions like this on this forum. New writers are insanely paranoid that someone is going to steal their ideas. My advice: Quit obsessing over it. Spend your time trying to write something good enough that someone would have a reason to steal it. In this case, if you are convinced that the person you are working with is so dishonest that he is likely to steal your work, I suggest you find a different partner. – Jay Feb 19 '16 at 7:22
  • If you work with a publisher, they'll handle the legal side of things. – rolfedh Feb 19 '16 at 14:02
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    Yes, ideas are worthless. It is only the finished book that has any value at all. – Simon White Feb 20 '16 at 9:41
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It sounds like you're starting out on the wrong foot. To produce a successful book, it's important that you foster a spirit of collaboration and contribution with your co-author. One way to do this is to have an agreement up front. The agreement should state that both of your names will appear alphabetically on the cover, it should include a preliminary outline of the book, and should identify who will be the primary author of each chapter or segment.

It's likely that the two of you have different writing styles, so you should also discuss how you're going to achieve some consistency in the book. You can talk your way through this issue, select a style-guide, agree to peer edit each other's work. Again, the key thing is to work things out constructively and diplomatically ahead of time.

Although the book might not make much money, it could help both of your careers and create new job opportunities. If your collaboration doesn't work out, with the two of you parting ways and publishing separate books, you still get the same benefits from publishing an excellent book on your own. The existence of a book by another author won't affect your outcome. No matter what, you have a lot to gain, and little to lose.

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