Why no one is going to steal your work

Whenever we have a Writers Conference, there’s always at least one person in attendance who asks about copyrights and worries about sending their manuscript out because they think someone might steal all their hard work.

While I can understand the worry, it’s just not going to happen.

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First, remember that your ideas aren’t really that important. Seriously, everyone has ideas. It’s the way you put them into a story that matter. It’s your writing style and your voice that make the ideas yours.

There have been anthologies where the authors are given the same plot and then each writes a story, and every single one is different. How you tell the story is more important than what the story is.

As soon as you write your story, it is copyrighted. You don’t have to put a copyright mark on every page. It’s on your computer and there are ways to tell when it was written. I personally email my work to myself as I’m writing it. That way if my computer crashes, I can retrieve it. Note that this also clearly establishes that I am the author.

No one is going to steal your stuff. It’s very easy for you to prove you wrote the thing, and a lawsuit just isn’t worth the trouble.

Also, think of this: If you’ve written a really great story and you’ve sent it off to an agent or an editor, do you think they’re going to say, “This is great! I think I’ll steal it, invite a lawsuit, ruin my career, and never be able to work in publishing again!”? No, they’re going to say, “This person writes great! Let’s buy this story and get this person on our side so they can write more great stuff for us!”

There is no reason for anyone to steal your stuff and lots of reasons why they would want you to be on their side so you can create more.

Finally, for God’s sake, don’t send in a query letter that says “All this work is copyrighted by me!” or otherwise emphasize that point, because that is a red flag that agents and editors will interpret as “This person is not professional and may give me a hard time when I ask for changes.”

One Response

  1. Great advice!!

    Like

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