You Are Not Going to be Plagiarized – Calm DOWN

I talk to a lot of writers. Online. At conferences. At bookfairs. Through social media. E.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e. One thing I find myself answering a hundred million times a year is this: “If I put my pages online, or send them to a critique group, or send them to a beta reader….etc….how do I know they won’t be stolen?”

**I AM SPEAKING TO FICTION WRITERS** I want to clarify because I write fiction exclusively and can’t speak to the fear of having a non-fiction idea copied or stolen since that work is research and in my mind, much different than making stuff up.

Fiction writers: Once you begin to query agents and editors and have accumulated a personal stack of rejections taller than your youngest child, you will see that what I say is the truth….No one will steal your idea, get it published and make money all without you ever knowing.

Striving to find an agent is like climbing Everesst.

Working with your agent to sell the perfect, shiny manuscript is like flying to the moon – sans a ship.

It’s really quite pretentious to believe your work is so amazing, someone will read it, gasp from sheer luck to get their hands on such awesome, sign their name to it, snap up a sale and sell your work as their own. I mean….really.

Authors want to write their own book. They’re busy and preoccupied, not manuscript hunting.

Non-authors wouldn’t know where to begin to try to sell your manuscript or be out trolling social media looking for a script to steal.

Every time you hit “save” you’re time stamping your work. You can prove it was yours if ever you see your manuscript – which you can’t seem to sell, I guess, or you would have – on the NYT Best Sellers list.

Take a breath. Relax. It’s all good. Now, get out there and take advantage of beta readers and critique groups! They are mad-wonderful and will improve your writing not steal it.


For those of you still upset about someone stealing your idea, take a look at one of my posts on group-think or the hive mentality. It’s completely common for a hundred authors across American to work on a strikingly similar project at the same time and then query the same agent all during the same week. Totes typical. They can’t sue one another. It just happens. No theft, just humans being human, having thoughts about things.

Now, go write something.


5 comments to You Are Not Going to be Plagiarized – Calm DOWN

  • I liked reading this and decided I wanted to receive you in my email. I looked around and didn’t see the Follow By Email gadget. Often in this day of information overload and things slipping through the cracks, I have found that people like to receive new posts in their email or they forget all about that great site that had great content. I suggest putting in the top right of your page. Just a suggestion. :)

    Morgan @StoryDam and @MDragonwillow

  • Julie Anne Lindsey

    Hi Morgan! I’m honored you’d want to receive my posts in your email! The button is at the top right corner with three curved lines and the word Posts. I guess it should say Subscribe….no one’s ever asked me about it. I’m glad you did. Thank you!

  • Great hearing and meeting you at the Western Reserve conference, Julie! The plagiarism paranoia I heard some bring up in breakout sessions was a shock to me. It felt so handcuffing to have a fear of someone stealing an idea to the point of not sending it out for feedback, chance a publishing…or maybe not even writing it at all. Ideas are recycled everywhere. I’ll read something and go, “oh, that’s a takeoff of Romeo and Juliet” or “yep, another apocalypse/end of the world tale.” What we bring as writers is our own unique voice and plot point spins on the themes. And you are right that someone (or lots of someones) could be working on something similar in another part of the world. None of that matters if we don’t write and get ours out there.

  • [...] Seth Godin explains why you need not worry about your writing being pirated. (Julie Anne Lindsey expressed a similar sentiment last month about plagiarism.) [...]

  • [...] Some fiction authors live in dread that they are going to be plagiarized. Julie Anne Lindsey say: You are not going to be plagiarized – calm down! [...]

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