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PaigeTurner
04-02-2013, 11:58 PM
If I submit my manuscript to a reputable literary agent, what protection do I have for my ideas? Thanks!

Filigree
04-03-2013, 12:11 AM
You don't need any. A legitimate agent will not steal your ideas. Outright theft/plagiarism does not really happen that often, especially from an agent.

Mr Flibble
04-03-2013, 12:14 AM
A reputable literary agent would all of a sudden find they had no reputation. And stealing work -- that would spread like stink, affecting their whole business if it was true (I'm assuming here you mean the actual MS, rather than nebulous ideas which are not really copyrightable IIRC, and besides which are a) a dime a dozen unless they are massively high concept or something and b) someone will still have to write the book around the idea, which will certainly differ from your book about the idea -- lots of books with similar ideas are around, it's teh execution that is key).

Now, that's not to say that it doesn't happen with disreputable agents/scammers (though even then it's unlikely), but this is why you do your research

amergina
04-03-2013, 12:19 AM
What Filigree said.

Ideas are a penny a dozen. (Take, for example: Child enters school for the magically inclined. Been done many many times. Or: Farmboy discovers only he can save the world/universe.)

It's the execution of an idea that's priceless.

Maryn
04-03-2013, 12:27 AM
I agree with all the previous answers. Here's how you prevent theft--you do your research on the legitimacy of any agent/agency or publisher before you ever send a query.

Maryn, the rare person whose work has been stolen and sold

tbrosz
04-03-2013, 12:35 AM
Cripes, I only wish an agent thought my stuff was something he could steal and get rich from. :)

DruidKitt
04-03-2013, 02:21 AM
You don't have anything to worry about. Especially if you're double checking an agent on this forum first!

Marian Perera
04-03-2013, 02:50 AM
If I submit my manuscript to a reputable literary agent, what protection do I have for my ideas? Thanks!

If your work is good enough and marketable enough for reputable literary agents to notice it, they would make more money from signing you as a client than they would from stealing your ideas.

Chances are that's how they became reputable, from selling their clients' work.

thothguard51
04-03-2013, 02:54 AM
And here is another truth...96% of all submission are rejected by agents for various reasons. Of the remaining four percent, again, only about 5-6% are agents able to sell...

BenPanced
04-03-2013, 03:21 AM
I think Uncle Jim said that the only writing a disreputable agent is interested in is your signature on the check.

Becky Black
04-03-2013, 05:55 PM
If I submit my manuscript to a reputable literary agent, what protection do I have for my ideas? Thanks!

That's your protection - their reputation. A reputable agent is not going to steal your ideas or book. Check agents out before you send and save your worrying for things that are actual real problems. Seriously, people new to the writing game always worry about this, and it's a non-issue. There are dodgy agents out there, but they are more likely to scam you by asking for up front fees and such, rather than stealing your ideas.

Jamesaritchie
04-03-2013, 06:57 PM
If I submit my manuscript to a reputable literary agent, what protection do I have for my ideas? Thanks!

In the first place, no one owns an idea. They're all worthless, anyway. It's the book you turn an idea into than sometimes has value, but only after it's published.

What on earth would an agent or editor even do with your idea, or your book? Steal it? I'd bet money you can't even give it away. Agents and editor see thousands of manuscripts every year.

If your book proves valuable, it will only be after an agent takes it on, and after a publisher buys it. Then, if it's popular enough, I can guarantee it will be pirated. Until then, however, it's just another manuscript like the thousands of other in the slush.

MandyHubbard
04-03-2013, 07:25 PM
And here is another truth...96% of all submission are rejected by agents for various reasons. Of the remaining four percent, again, only about 5-6% are agents able to sell...

Total tangent, but that's not true. Most of us request material from 5-10% of queries, and then end up signing 1-2% of our overal queries. Agents who have what would be considered pretty large client lists generally have 60+-- with your percentage, that would work out to only selling 3 to 4 clients.

If we only sold 5-6% of the stuff we signed, we'd all quit. You can't make a living from selling 1 of every 20 clients you have, because every client requires dozens of hours just to get it out on submission.

It takes time for your percentage to go up, as building a list is a slow endeavor, and there's a learning curve to understand the balance in market/hook/craft, but I'm 3 years in and have sold 11 of my 19 clients, with two of them being very new and not on submission yet.

KateJJ
04-03-2013, 07:52 PM
Mandy, thanks for that information - I was thinking there was no way agents could sell less than 10% of what they rep, but it's nice to hear from an agent about her own numbers.

WeaselFire
04-03-2013, 09:06 PM
If I submit my manuscript to a reputable literary agent, what protection do I have for my ideas? Thanks!
In general, the people who worry about these issues don't have any ideas worth stealing. Read about copyright to understand the problem.

Jeff

Jamesaritchie
04-03-2013, 10:06 PM
If we only sold 5-6% of the stuff we signed, we'd all quit. You can't make a living from selling 1 of every 20 clients you have, because every client requires dozens of hours just to get it out on submission.

.

Well, unless that one in twenty client is a Stephen King or a J. K. Rowling.

Kitty27
04-04-2013, 07:40 PM
In general, the people who worry about these issues don't have any ideas worth stealing. Read about copyright to understand the problem.

Jeff

No question asked on AW deserves a smart ass response. Other posters gave reasoned and kind responses. You'd do well to follow their lead.

dangerousbill
04-04-2013, 08:20 PM
If I submit my manuscript to a reputable literary agent, what protection do I have for my ideas? Thanks!

1. Make sure the agent is a member of the AAR, Association of Authors' Representatives.

2. Today's quote on ideas is $US 0.10 per dozen. I have a shipping container full of ideas in my backyard. Ideas have no value; only finished work is worth stealing, and it had better be good work to attract any self-respecting thief.

theDolphin
04-06-2013, 07:19 PM
Some good advice in here already, and I particularly agree with dangerousbill about approaching only agents (or agencies) who are members of AAR.

Don't know if they still do it, but Trident Media Group used to ask submitting authors to sign a release form to protect themselves from such accusations.

Likewise, ideas are such nebulous things apart from their specific execution that I think theft would be very difficult to prove under those circumstances. It will be your execution of your ideas that will set you apart. :)

Susan Littlefield
04-06-2013, 08:27 PM
:welcome: Paige.


If I submit my manuscript to a reputable literary agent, what protection do I have for my ideas? Thanks!

None because ideas cannot be protected.

As for your words, they are protected the moment you write them.