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.