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Thread: Protecting Yourself and Your WIP

  1. #51
    Cultus Gopherus MacAllister SuperModerator Medievalist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray Dillon View Post
    Is there some sort of non-disclosure agreement that a beta writer could sign to be safe?
    Were someone to send me an NDA ask me to beta, I'd be thoroughly insulted

    It would, in my opinion, be the same sort of insult as sending a ms. to an agent or editor with a copyright statement.

    You are covered by copyright.

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  2. #52
    Artist & Writer Ray Dillon's Avatar
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    Whoa. Just asking. Didn't mean to offend. I work in project proposals all the time in comics, film, tv, games, etc. and sign NDAs and various other agreements for copyright and trade secrets. Seemed logical to back yourself up.
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  3. #53
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    Ray, it is prolly a fair question and proposal, but I am with Med here, if people are genuine, they may be easily insulted.
    I offered to beta for some I had never met. They sent it to me and it went on the HD and ignored. More than a month later I started to rea dit. I was in a funk and it helped pull me out.

    I gave the guy periodic feedback and in the end told him it was a best seller and to PROTECT his work. My suggestions were to NEVER send out a full copy to anyone, send 2-5 chapters at most and deal with extra people to cover the whole work. It was that good, IMHO.

    BenPanced
    "Don't you think if somebody wanted to have a book published it'd be easier for them to write their own?"

    Trust me, I have met people with NO IMAGINATION whatsoever. I think many of the best editors are frustrated writers with ZERO imagination. They edit since they can't creatively write.
    Now I do take you point about "why steal an MS". You make good sense, but that doesn't mean a cheat starting out won't do it if the work is good but you haven't got a query answered yet. I think there some basic rules we should all follow unless we want to risk such POSSIBILITIES.


  4. #54
    figuring it all out Laquesi's Avatar
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    I have a question, though I have no idea if someone here will know this. I live in Brazil and can very easily get my work copyrighted here (everyone who works in any sort of creative business does it here. You register the work with the National Library, something like that). But here's the catch: I want to publish in the U.S., the final MS is going to be in English, and I want beta readers who speak English. Will the Brazilian registration/copyright count for anything? I figure it will at least be further proof of date and ownership.

  5. #55
    better at querying than writing... chancerychislett's Avatar
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    does anyone know if the poorman's copywright works via email as well, or no?
    "To be or not to be..."

  6. #56
    The Surreal Thing AW Moderator Maryn's Avatar
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    Poor man's copyright is a complete myth. No US court, at any level, has ever recognized so-called poor man's copyright as any proof of anything. (My husband works for a legal database company and has searched case law for me to say this with certainty.) If you go to the Library of Congress website, which the Copyright Office is part of, it says the same thing.

    I don't know the law in other countries.

    Maryn, not meaning to scold and hoping it doesn't come off looking that way
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  7. #57
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    Most countries are protected under the Berne Convention so your work is copyrighted as soon as you write it. Of course, the Berne Convention is a minimum standard and if your country has additional laws, those apply too (such as moral rights, increased duration ...etc). I wouldn't worry about someone stealing your novel - just keep your edits, save them as different files. Someone might try to write their own book based on your idea, but anyone can do that already. I can write a space saga if I want, I just can't name my characters James T. Kirk and Spock.

  8. #58
    Has semi-colon; will use it! jtrylch13's Avatar
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    All right, I was all set to seek out a beta reader for my entire manuscript but you guys have me scared now! I read this thread from beginning to end. So far, there were only two instances of a beta abusing the trust given them and I'm guessing this happens very rarely, but still, shaking in my recliner as we speak. Still, I need a beta, because I've gone as far as I can on my own and from family members. (Deep breath) Okay, I can do this!

  9. #59
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Jewely's Avatar
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    I am paranoid about sending an unknown beta my work (even by chapter) I am a newbie so everyone is unknown at this point. Of course, I have asked my family/friends to read it and only one actually finished. I need writers to critic my work not just my supportive mommy. I appreciate all of your wisdom in this area. The idea about sending my work to two betas at the same time was quite helpful.

  10. #60
    Tonight on Mythbusters BenPanced's Avatar
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    As stated before, submit your work to the SYW sections here, under the appropriate genre. It's all password protected.
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    I won't steal any of your ideas. I have enough of my own.

  11. #61
    Struggling to be the dream... missf410's Avatar
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    My Beta Reader Problems

    Hi,

    My problem was, I guess, opposite. I was a fairly young writer when I put my first short story out there to a few beta readers who I thought I could trust. They all gave me some good (and I thought truthful) advice. I later found out they had been emailing each other and mocking my efforts when one of them 'accidentally' or not sent me an email with all the replies on it. Needless to say they weren't going to be trying to get it published and that site isn't my favorite anymore.

    I just joined this site yesterday and I hope to have a better experience this time around. It has been a good decade since that incident, so I hope my writing has since improved.
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  12. #62
    practical experience, FTW cindystubbs's Avatar
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    fear

    That would be my greatest fear, to be made fun of and it actually happened to you. It is high school all over again. How awful for you and my heart goes out to you. My first short story was only one page, single-spaced! I got a nice letter from True Confessions asking me to try again and tactfully suggest it be a bit longer and double-spaced!

  13. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by katiemac View Post
    Honestly, if I ran into a beta situation where the story was that similar to my own, I would stop critiquing that person's work, but not because I'd be worried about being accused of plagiarism. Of course I'd also give the them a full explanation as to why I'd stopped reading. (As an aside, I'd also give my own story a good hard look and ask myself if it's truly coincidence or if I'm writing something too generic.)

    <snip>

    Communication is always the key. But if you really are worried about it, then stop critiquing the work. Period.

    That's what I was thinking: you don't have to keep reading if you're finding it uncomfortably similar to your own work. I think any writer would appreciate a beta stepping aside for that reason. I certainly would.

    I also agree that it would make me take that second look at my own writing - too predictable? Just another slight variation on an overworked theme?

    And of course, my ego is just big enough to prefer my own writing style, so I can't imagine putting my name on someone else's work - even if I think what I'm reading is fabulous. Part of what keeps me writing is reading good books that take a turn away from the story I want to hear.

    But I do have an uncomfortable question to ask ... how do you discover that your work has been stolen? (Other than books that become movies or best-sellers, of course.)

  14. #64
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Ink Charmer's Avatar
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    All of this is scary and fascinating.

    I have a question: Prior to 911 I wrote a book about dream interpretation.
    I sent it to an agent who requested to read the entire manuscript.
    The agent sent me a rejection letter yet a year later a more famous author published an eerily similar book to include some of my quotes.
    Some of those quotes were only different by a word or two.

    I can't afford an attorney. What should I do?
    I sent myself a poor man's copyright but if it won't hold up in court, what's the point?
    To make dreams real, first you have to have them.

  15. #65
    Let's see what's on special today.. Bufty's Avatar
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    The point is exactly that - poor man's copyright is totally pointless and not even necessary because copyright is automatically a writer's the moment he commits whatever he's working on to paper or disc or other storage media.

    If I, or anybody else who knew what they were talking about wrote a book on the interpretation of dreams we would probably come up with similar quotes, too.

    Tell me you're not serious about going to court with this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ink Charmer View Post
    All of this is scary and fascinating.

    I have a question: Prior to 911 I wrote a book about dream interpretation.
    I sent it to an agent who requested to read the entire manuscript.
    The agent sent me a rejection letter yet a year later a more famous author published an eerily similar book to include some of my quotes.
    Some of those quotes were only different by a word or two.

    I can't afford an attorney. What should I do?
    I sent myself a poor man's copyright but if it won't hold up in court, what's the point?
    Everything yields to treatment.

  16. #66
    but appreciated anyway... Unimportant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ink Charmer View Post
    The agent sent me a rejection letter yet a year later a more famous author published an eerily similar book to include some of my quotes.
    Some of those quotes were only different by a word or two.
    Do you mean that you and this other author both used the same quotes, the text of which originated from third parties? Or did this other author quote large portions of prose that was original to you? If the latter, that sounds problematic. If the former, it sounds not unexpected; books on the same subject are going to quote the same source material.

  17. #67
    A bit of a wallflower absitinvidia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ink Charmer View Post
    All of this is scary and fascinating.

    I have a question: Prior to 911 I wrote a book about dream interpretation.
    I sent it to an agent who requested to read the entire manuscript.
    The agent sent me a rejection letter yet a year later a more famous author published an eerily similar book to include some of my quotes.
    Some of those quotes were only different by a word or two.

    I can't afford an attorney. What should I do?
    I sent myself a poor man's copyright but if it won't hold up in court, what's the point?

    Depending on the publisher, if "a more famous author" put out a book "a year" after your query, that could mean your book was rejected because it sounded eerily similar to a book that the agent had already sold to a publisher.

    Just out of curiosity: have you been able to establish that the other author is a client of the agent who rejected your MS? Because if you're alleging infringement here, you're going to need to establish where this other author would have seen your work in the first place.

  18. #68
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Javielito's Avatar
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    I need a Beta-Reader and editor

    Hello, Absolutewrite community:

    I am an Hispanic writer (I am a former Chemist and I have US patents) of science-fiction genre, and I need a native English speaker for my manuscript because I want this perfect before sending it to the literary agent.

    My manuscript already have copyrights and was first made in English, later passed to Spanish, and again I made it into better English, but it is not perfect.

    I need that the native English reader can fluently understand my story. I need to correct punctuation, spelling, grammar, check any rule of English, fix anything confusing, etc.

    I am willing to talk to that person but I would love to also meet that person in real life.

    I don't know if this is the place to post this but if not, please migrate my request to the right forum.

    I will appreciate PMs.

    Thank you in advance.

    Javier
    Oh no! This dumbo octopus wants to eat my sandwich with the help of the Dragonfish.

  19. #69
    practical experience, FTW LJD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ink Charmer View Post
    I have a question: Prior to 911 I wrote a book about dream interpretation.
    I sent it to an agent who requested to read the entire manuscript.
    The agent sent me a rejection letter yet a year later a more famous author published an eerily similar book to include some of my quotes.
    Some of those quotes were only different by a word or two.

    I can't afford an attorney. What should I do?
    I suggest taking a look at this thread.

    Unless there is much more convincing evidence than what you're telling us here, I'd do nothing.

  20. #70
    but appreciated anyway... Unimportant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Javielito View Post
    Hello, Absolutewrite community:

    I am an Hispanic writer (I am a former Chemist and I have US patents) of science-fiction genre, and I need a native English speaker for my manuscript because I want this perfect before sending it to the literary agent.

    My manuscript already have copyrights and was first made in English, later passed to Spanish, and again I made it into better English, but it is not perfect.

    I need that the native English reader can fluently understand my story. I need to correct punctuation, spelling, grammar, check any rule of English, fix anything confusing, etc.

    I am willing to talk to that person but I would love to also meet that person in real life.

    I don't know if this is the place to post this but if not, please migrate my request to the right forum.

    I will appreciate PMs.

    Thank you in advance.

    Javier
    Javier, I think you want to start a new thread, either in this section asking for a beta reader, or in this section asking to hire an editor, or in this section asking an editor to work without pay.

    However, be aware that beta readers may point out a persistent problem if they notice it (e.g., 'you keep punctuating your dialogue incorrectly'), but they are unlikely to go through and line-edit an entire manuscript to correct every single mistake. Few beta readers have the editorial skills to do that, even if they had the time an inclination. Likewise, few editors who do have those skills are going to be willing to work for free. You can hire an editor, but it is likely to cost you a few thousand dollars.

  21. #71
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Javielito's Avatar
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    Talking

    Quote Originally Posted by Unimportant View Post
    Javier, I think you want to start a new thread, either in this section asking for a beta reader, or in this section asking to hire an editor, or in this section asking an editor to work without pay.

    However, be aware that beta readers may point out a persistent problem if they notice it (e.g., 'you keep punctuating your dialogue incorrectly'), but they are unlikely to go through and line-edit an entire manuscript to correct every single mistake. Few beta readers have the editorial skills to do that, even if they had the time an inclination. Likewise, few editors who do have those skills are going to be willing to work for free. You can hire an editor, but it is likely to cost you a few thousand dollars.
    Dear Unimportant:
    thank you a lot for your councils. I appreciate it.
    I will check the three links you posted and I will decide what is the best scenario for me.

    About first choice: I read that Beta Readers can work my manuscript for free, but I am really willing to dialogue with one of them maybe both can help each other.

    About the third choice: Do really an editor (what type of editor? a publisher editor?) works without paying him/her? or you mean that he/she will not pay me for my work if he/she does the manuscript?

    Hey, and you are not Unimportant, you are very important You are helping me and you are a very wise person.

    Thank you

    Javier
    Last edited by Javielito; 10-16-2012 at 07:36 PM.
    Oh no! This dumbo octopus wants to eat my sandwich with the help of the Dragonfish.

  22. #72
    but appreciated anyway... Unimportant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Javielito View Post
    About first choice: I read that Beta Readers can work my manuscript for free, but I am really willing to dialogue with one of them maybe both can help each other.

    About the third choice: Do really an editor (what type of editor? a publisher editor?) works without paying him/her? or you mean that he/she will not pay me for my work if he/she does the manuscript?
    In general: beta readers like to work with someone they know and are comfortable with, rather than a total stranger. Most beta readers will expect an equal exchange: you read their book, and they read yours. But most beta readers will not line-edit an entire book and correct every error in punctuation, spelling, grammar, and sentence structure, nor do they have the skills to do so.

    In general: editors work for pay. An editor might work for free for someone they know and want to do the favour for, but it's uncommon. The chances are almost zero that an editor would work for free for a total stranger.

  23. #73
    She who must be obeyed Amanda R.'s Avatar
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    Honestly, fear of having my work stolen is what has kept me from joining an online writer group before now. Thanks for letting me know I'm not being unreasonable and that other people have thought about this too, but also that there are ways to protect myself and my work.
    Amanda R.

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  24. #74
    practical experience, FTW Rockweaver's Avatar
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    i have been reading through this section so i have a few questions that may or may not have been answered.

    1 is it better to save a file as "project title - MM-DD-YYYY" on a daily basis never overwriting the file or overwrite and don't worry.

    2 if i send a chapter or 3 to a Beta should i send it as a Locked PDF. and have them not be able to change the form but send feedback via a new doc?

    this is honestly a side of the process i have not really spent a lot of time thinking through.

    i have seen that a NDA would be an insult. working in research we use them all the time and i would not have had a problem with it. now i have to rethink this idea also.

    funny no matter the subject i still find out that the more know the more i need to know about a topic.
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  25. #75
    Tyrant King jeffo20's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rockweaver View Post
    i have been reading through this section so i have a few questions that may or may not have been answered.

    1 is it better to save a file as "project title - MM-DD-YYYY" on a daily basis never overwriting the file or overwrite and don't worry.
    I believe if you overwrite the document, the document properties will still have a 'created by' date. So if you started your book on January 1, and saved it as the same title every day, the properties would say 'created on January 1', while the 'modified date' would be whatever the last day was that you saved it. I will regularly save my work with a different name, just because I'm manic that way.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rockweaver View Post
    2 if i send a chapter or 3 to a Beta should i send it as a Locked PDF. and have them not be able to change the form but send feedback via a new doc?
    Honestly, I prefer to work directly in a document when I read for someone. It's a lot easier to insert red text than to have a separate document with 'page 3, second sentence, insert comma between 'name' and 'just' or some such.


    Quote Originally Posted by Rockweaver View Post
    i have seen that a NDA would be an insult. working in research we use them all the time and i would not have had a problem with it. now i have to rethink this idea also.
    Beta readers come from all walks of life. An NDA may be Standard Operating Procedure for you, but probably isn't for most potential beta readers. I don't think I'd be insulted to get one, but I would be surprised. And I'd read it over very carefully before signing it.
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