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EndlessDestiny
12-31-2008, 04:11 AM
When you send your work to an agent, how do you make sure that your work is protected? I'm paranoid about this sort of stuff.

The Lonely One
12-31-2008, 04:17 AM
When you send your work to an agent, how do you make sure that your work is protected? I'm paranoid about this sort of stuff.

Only thing for sure in this life is death and form rejections. Trust your research and instincts.

scarletpeaches
12-31-2008, 04:17 AM
Why, yes. I protect my manuscript using only a psychic-shield put in place by myriads of sparkling fairies, invoked using the medium of dance!

***

Do you mean protected physically or legally?

ellisnation
12-31-2008, 04:19 AM
If you send your manuscript only to legit agents, you shouldn't encounter any problems. I have heard of alot of writers mailing their manuscripts to themselves, leaving it sealed... if there is ever any problem than you have the envelope with the postmark on it. I also email all of mine to my mom and she saves them... the email has the date on it. I feel like that's sufficient.

Jersey Chick
12-31-2008, 04:20 AM
Your work is automatically protected as soon as it's in a fixed format (or is it tangible format? either way, as soon as you get it out of your head and onto paper or a harddrive or whatever, it's protected.) A legitimate agent is NOT going to steal your work.

i'm assuming you mean copyright protected here.

scarletpeaches
12-31-2008, 04:20 AM
Never use poor man's copyright. It screams amateur and has no legal standing at all.

The Lonely One
12-31-2008, 04:24 AM
Never use poor man's copyright. It screams amateur and has no legal standing at all.

Second.

Plus your copyright is only worth what your expensive lawyer says it is.

BlueLucario
12-31-2008, 04:24 AM
Dude, you're work is already protected. No need to worry.

Besides, agents who see a copyright label are probably going to laugh at you and call you an amateur.

Mumut
12-31-2008, 04:56 AM
I think the main message here is check on any agents/publishers before you send them your work.

kuwisdelu
12-31-2008, 05:13 AM
By only sending it to legit agents. Check the bewares sections if an agent seems sketchy.

As already mentioned, your written work is automatically copyright protected once you write it. Registering it as copyright only gives you right to sue; you already have the right to claim it as yours. You should never need to use this if you only send to legit agents. If you really want to be careful about something like copyright, though, registering it isn't the best way unless you want to sue, since it can be somewhat expensive. Instead, tuck it in a big, sealed envelope with some kind of proof of date and snail mail it to yourself. When it arrives back, leave it sealed: there's now a record of you mailing it, and proof of that you wrote it first inside the envelope. And this only costs the price of postage and printing. Again, this is completely unnecessary, but can offer you peace of mind if you happen to be OCD.

CaoPaux
12-31-2008, 05:25 AM
From the FAQ forum, all FAQ answered regarding copyright and copyrighting: http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=58845

blacbird
12-31-2008, 08:22 AM
If you send your manuscript only to legit agents, you shouldn't encounter any problems. I have heard of alot of writers mailing their manuscripts to themselves, leaving it sealed... if there is ever any problem than you have the envelope with the postmark on it.

Dare we say it yet again, when it's been the subject of about 4,000 questions and threads on this site?

THE "POOR MAN'S COPYRIGHT", E.G., SENDING YOURSELF YOUR MANUSCRIPT VIA THE MAIL, IS USELESS NONSENSE.

caw

maestrowork
12-31-2008, 08:26 AM
When you send your work to an agent, how do you make sure that your work is protected? I'm paranoid about this sort of stuff.

No agent is going to steal your unpublished work. And if he or she thinks it's good enough to be published, don't you think he or she would offer representation, sell the manuscript and make money on it, instead of risking to be sued?

By the way, the minute you create the manuscript (pen on paper, computer files, etc.) you have the copyright. To prove it, you need only to show a trail. Keep good records of your files, printouts, etc. just in case someone did steal your work (by the way, registering copyright is not going to prevent theft -- but guess what, people tend to steal published works, not unpublished slush).

As others have said, the poor-man copyright thing is bogus. It's useless in the court of law, and it's highly unnecessary.

kuwisdelu
12-31-2008, 08:27 AM
THE "POOR MAN'S COPYRIGHT", E.G., SENDING YOURSELF YOUR MANUSCRIPT VIA THE MAIL, IS USELESS NONSENSE.

At the same time, if it gives someone peace of mind, what could it hurt?

Medievalist
12-31-2008, 08:59 AM
If you send your manuscript only to legit agents, you shouldn't encounter any problems. I have heard of alot of writers mailing their manuscripts to themselves, leaving it sealed... if there is ever any problem than you have the envelope with the postmark on it. I also email all of mine to my mom and she saves them... the email has the date on it. I feel like that's sufficient.

This is bogus; it's called poor man's copyright, and it has no legal standing, at all.

Read this (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=58845).

blacbird
12-31-2008, 10:24 AM
At the same time, if it gives someone peace of mind, what could it hurt?

Like heroin?

caw

scarletpeaches
12-31-2008, 04:48 PM
At the same time, if it gives someone peace of mind, what could it hurt?

Cheap envelopes = nasty papercuts. Teh sadz. :(

job
12-31-2008, 11:59 PM
As others have said ... send your manuscript to agents of stellar reputation --
(why would you do otherwise?)
They will not steal your work.

You can register your copyright with the Library of Congress. Here (http://www.copyright.gov/register/). It costs $35. This registration has legal status of a complicated kind.

The 'poor man's copyright', suggested above, has no legal status. If you want 'peace of mind', buy a gris-gris.

FWIW, an agent is likely to see a copyright as unjustified self-esteem and insulting suspicion. It will certainly be noted as cluelessness.
So perhaps you should not tell her it is copyrighted till after you are signed.

IceCreamEmpress
01-01-2009, 12:05 AM
Don't register your copyright in advance; it will avail you nothing and only cause trouble for the publisher (and piss off your agent).

CaoPaux
01-01-2009, 01:34 AM
Not to mention put you on the mailing lists of vanity pubs and scamsters: registering an unpublished ms marks you as, well, a mark.

blacbird
01-01-2009, 01:49 AM
It will certainly be noted as cluelessness.

I don't get it.

caw

Gillhoughly
01-01-2009, 02:10 AM
No one steals from you until after you're famous.

Just send your work out to legit agents and keep writing.

Safe place to look for agents (http://anotherealm.com/prededitors/pubagent.htm).

Don't bother registering a copyright. Your publisher will do that for you once the agent sells the work.

:editor's hat on: I don't mind seeing that little copyright symbol by your name, title, whatever, but it does tell me you're either clueless, paranoid, or suspect me of being a thief.

Not the best way to start a relationship.

job
01-02-2009, 01:21 AM
It will certainly be noted as cluelessness
I don't get it.
caw

Someone who copyrights his ms before sending it to an agent
shows he is an amateur,
shows he does not understand how the publishing business works,
shows he has an unrealistic notion of the value of unpublished manuscripts.

Clueless, y'know.

James D. Macdonald
01-02-2009, 08:42 AM
An unpublished manuscript is essentially worthless. No one steals worthless things.

Legitimate agents and publishers won't steal a work because they aren't just interested in this book, they're interested in your next, and the one after that too.

Illegitimate agents won't steal your work either, because what would they do with it? If they could sell books they wouldn't have to be scammers. Their income stream doesn't come from selling books.

Telstar
01-06-2009, 07:04 PM
Don't register your copyright in advance; it will avail you nothing and only cause trouble for the publisher (and piss off your agent).

I don't see how.
The library of congress copyrighted manuscript can be updated (paying the fee).

Wayne K
01-06-2009, 07:17 PM
I don't think it's stupid to protect your idea from predatory agents that could very easily write or have someone write it differently. If it's a good enough story plot, or new angle on an old idea or something like that, they have publishers ears, and I've heard some horror storie's from lawyers about that.

Captshady
01-06-2009, 07:22 PM
I've heard a lot of stories of authors claiming another "stole" their idea/manuscript ... but I've never heard of any of them winning in court.

ideagirl
01-06-2009, 11:29 PM
I don't think it's stupid to protect your idea from predatory agents that could very easily write or have someone write it differently. If it's a good enough story plot, or new angle on an old idea or something like that, they have publishers ears, and I've heard some horror storie's from lawyers about that.

Even if that's theoretically true, how do you propose people "protect their ideas from predatory agents"? Putting a (C) symbol on your work before sending it out does nothing for you--it just makes you look like an amateur, and it gives you no legal advantages that you don't already have. You can register it if that makes you feel better (but still, DO NOT put the (C) symbol on it when you send it out!!), sure, but my basic point here is that in practical terms you CANNOT protect your idea from predatory agents, except by not giving your idea to predatory agents in the first place. In other words, do your research and send only to legit places. End of story.

BenPanced
01-06-2009, 11:31 PM
Predatory agents don't want your ideas, anyway. The only writing they want to see is your signature on a check for their "services". The money's faster and easier that way.

ideagirl
01-06-2009, 11:33 PM
I've heard a lot of stories of authors claiming another "stole" their idea/manuscript ... but I've never heard of any of them winning in court.

A lot of times, those suits happen because writers don't understand what copyright actually covers. "Hey, I was going to write a novel Paris about someone who discovers Jesus's great-great-great-etc. granddaughter living in Paris! I mentioned it to Dan Brown and he stole my idea!" Maybe he was inspired by your idea, maybe not, but you don't own that IDEA--anyone can write a book with that bare-bones plot; books could have that plot and be completely different in every other respect.

People think they own ideas... they don't. They own certain expressions of the idea. The only way you could sue Dan Brown in the above circumstance is if you'd had him sign a confidentiality agreement before you told him your idea. Then, if he went ahead and wrote the Da Vinci Code, he would be violating the confidentiality agreement.

Wayne K
01-07-2009, 06:52 PM
Even if that's theoretically true, how do you propose people "protect their ideas from predatory agents"? Putting a (C) symbol on your work before sending it out does nothing for you--it just makes you look like an amateur, and it gives you no legal advantages that you don't already have. You can register it if that makes you feel better (but still, DO NOT put the (C) symbol on it when you send it out!!), sure, but my basic point here is that in practical terms you CANNOT protect your idea from predatory agents, except by not giving your idea to predatory agents in the first place. In other words, do your research and send only to legit places. End of story.

I didn't say to do any of those things. I simply said it's not a bad idea to try and protect a new idea. And YES! ! There are predators who disguise themselves as agents to steal ideas and dupe people into co-writing schemes. I dealt with one personally.

ideagirl
01-07-2009, 08:52 PM
And YES! ! There are predators who disguise themselves as agents to steal ideas and dupe people into co-writing schemes. I dealt with one personally.

Hence the previous advice re: only send your work to REPUTABLE agents.

ORION
01-07-2009, 09:08 PM
think about how many queries, partials and fulls get sent out to each agent...thousands and thousands (millions) over just one year.
And then think about how many times you hear about someone stealing ANYTHING.
An established author using paragraphs from an old reference text?
A young debut author using a book packager that steals from an established author?
Researchers and non fiction authors suing a blockbuster author for filching an idea that was ultimately thrown out?
Tell me if I'm wrong but I've never heard of anyone stealing an unknown writers MANUSCRIPT.
And I've had people write me that I've never met tell me they had an idea for a book like Lottery um er except that they hadn't written a page of it ... but yanno they had the idea...

Wayne K
01-07-2009, 09:26 PM
Hence the previous advice re: only send your work to REPUTABLE agents.

Exactly. It wasn't too bad because an attorney stepped in, but it was definitely a lesson I learned.

James D. Macdonald
01-07-2009, 09:28 PM
I have heard of a writer who, to keep an agent from stealing the idea when the agent requested twenty pages, sent pages 4, 9, 12, 34, 61 ....

That didn't work out well for the author. But the agent still tells the story.

scarletpeaches
01-07-2009, 09:29 PM
Uncle Jim.

Tell me you're joking? :eek:

Wayne K
01-07-2009, 09:41 PM
I have heard of a writer who, to keep an agent from stealing the idea when the agent requested twenty pages, sent pages 4, 9, 12, 34, 61 ....

That didn't work out well for the author. But the agent still tells the story.


Did he want to get his advance in unmarked bills?

The Lonely One
01-07-2009, 10:29 PM
Did he want to get his advance in unmarked bills?

Maybe they could send him a penny, a nickel, a dime, a Canadian nickel, a Yen...

Phaeal
01-07-2009, 11:05 PM
I keep all my notes, drafts, outlines, corrected MSS, etc. That's it. Plus the agent research. Heh, an agent should only love my stuff enough to steal it.

Kate Thornton
01-07-2009, 11:20 PM
I keep all my notes, drafts, outlines, corrected MSS, etc. That's it. Plus the agent research. Heh, an agent should only love my stuff enough to steal it.


Ain't it the truth!

Your computer-dated previous versions will stand up in court if needed. But as everyone says, there's a very low chance of an agent ever wanting to steal an unpublished work. Very very very low.

Prawn
01-08-2009, 06:34 AM
If I send my stuff to an agent and s/he publishes it, I would just be thankful to see it in print! I could mention it as a credit in my next query letter

"My book Sins was successfully plaigarized and sold 20,000 copies!"