Should Writers be Paranoid About Theft?

This is a pretty interesting topic, and one I’ve seen arise over and over on Twitter. You can write alone for years, but it’ll be tough to take your work to the next level unless you have CPs (critique partners) or beta readers. But I’ve met a bunch of new writers who are worried that just by having CPs, you’re offering your hard work up for the taking.

How do you keep your stories safe?

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Well, my honest answer is, you don’t. Seriously.

Just by putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), your novels are copyrighted. But this does NOT include titles, ideas, or short blurbs like Twitter pitches. So like it or not, someone could steal your Twitter pitch. It’s unprofessional and incredibly rude, but there’s no law against it.

But luckily for you, even if they do, they won’t have your amazing novel to back up that pitch. So be comforted by the fact that they won’t get anywhere with it.

If a CP were to steal your entire novel, though… well, then you’d have a case in court. You can register anything you write on the copyright website, and that’s great peace of mind for some authors.

Personally, I’ve never bothered with it. Why?

BECAUSE NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOUR IDEAS.

I’m sorry. That was a bit harsh. But that’s the angle I tend to take with everything I write. Mostly because I’m not a NYT Bestseller. I’m not a Newbery Award winner. I’m a nobody. As in, nobody cares about my stuff.

Not yet, anyway. 😉

Even if your beta thought your idea was amazing and decided to write it herself, she’ll NEVER create the same book as you. That’s the beauty of writing; everyone interprets an idea differently, and everyone has a different style. So I share my ideas freely, because frankly, it’d be awesome to see another author’s interpretation of it.

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Besides, your beta was picked for a reason–hopefully it’s because you like HER ideas just as much as your own. Which means she doesn’t need your ideas, because hers rock.

(She might be worried about YOU stealing HER stuff. Think about that for a minute.)

So, overall, you can’t protect your babies. Just like children, if you want them to achieve anything, you have to release them into the world. What’s the alternative? Keeping it hidden in your closet for years because you’re scared someone might steal it?

Yikes.

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Here’s an FAQ about copyrighting, if anyone’s curious about reading up on it.


Are you guys participating in Camp NaNoWriMo? Remember, it starts tomorrow!! See my last post for details, and let me know what you’ll be writing in the comments below.

I promise I won’t steal anything. 😛

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