Hi Sharon How you prepare the area depends largely on where you live and what kind of weight will be on the patio
Putting bricks directly on the ground is the fastest and easiest way....but will have the shortest life...particularly if you live where the temperature drops below freezing for greater than 2 weeks or so.
In warm climates, grading down 5-6 inches and then applying 3 inches of course sand, screeding to the correct pitch and then applying your pavers over this, then compacting will give good results that should last years.
In climates that freeze, you will need a substrate. A minimum of 3 inches of compressed lime stone or crushed granite (if greater weight like parked boats or RV's will be on the patio) below at least 2 inches of course sand is necessary to prevent frost heaving.
It is vital that the patio pitch at at least 1/8 inch per foot away from your house, so that moisture can run off.
There are several good books on this subject at your local library or home improvement center.