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Crimson Thorns
04-06-2013, 07:33 PM
Hello there. I am new to this rather boisterous site!

I am working on my book (as so many here) and considering self publishing as the route to take.

But I realized, since this is all rather new to me, what would be the best ways to protect my idea/concept in this, the preliminary stage? You see, I am looking for specialists who could provide insight into what I writing, and I have found some. But I fear giving away too much of my concept to them without properly 'protecting' it, so the concept isn't taken from me. I know ideas cannot be copyrighted, though rough drafts can.

What can I do, as a new writer, to protect my book ideas so I can talk to others about it without fear of maybe giving away my concepts?

Thank you, and have a great day all!

kaitie
04-06-2013, 07:40 PM
Ideas don't really matter, to be honest. I mean, they do, but someone would have to write an entire book and it would have to actually be good, and most writers aren't that interested in doing so when they have their own ideas to work with. While plagiarism happens on occasion, it's actually very rare.

Now, pirating is more common. If you put your work on a website it's more likely to be copied. But if you're working with other writers or professionals, you don't really need to be concerned that they'll steal your idea and write their own book. And honestly, even if they did, it would look so different from yours by the time you both finished that it wouldn't matter.

That being said, I'm not sure what you mean by specialists. If you're paying people to look at your work, you would be better off writing the drafts, polishing, editing on your own, having betas go over it, editing some more, more betas, etc., until you can't make it any better yourself, and then have a professional look it over. Otherwise you'll have to spend money repeatedly throughout the process as you revise.

J. Tanner
04-06-2013, 08:02 PM
As Katie alluded to, fiction is about execution more than the basic ideas.

You shouldn't need to give away your specific plot twists or anything when doing research, but even that you don't generally need to fear if a technical detail hinges on it.

GinJones
04-06-2013, 09:37 PM
If the OP is talking about non-fiction, and getting the book vetted by experts, then a non-disclosure/non-compete agreement might be useful, but they're tricky, so if it's really that big a deal, it's something that should be discussed with an attorney in the OP's jurisdiction.

Not giving individual legal advice, just general information, and the suggestion that a qualified legal professional be consulted.

Crimson Thorns
04-07-2013, 01:31 AM
It's a fictional book.

By specialist, I mean someone with certain skill sets and research knowledge on which to base the book's primary idea on. In this case, the researcher is a specialist in the biological and psychological sciences, and the information they will me provide will be integrated into a fantastical situation.

Someone suggested I copyright a rough draft of the book, but to write the rough draft, I need the research help. So it's something of a catch 22. But it seems that the consensus supports that its okay to share the idea, since the final product is the important aspect, even in cases of theft or plagiarism.

BenPanced
04-07-2013, 01:42 AM
Your draft is copyright the second it's written. You can't copyright ideas, anyway, only the final output of those ideas (a book, a screenplay, a CD, etc.)

Alice Xavier
04-07-2013, 01:49 AM
Like kaitie said, ideas aren't important because they're a dime a dozen. I have a million potentially amazing story ideas/concepts floating around in my head at any given time, but they're all worthless because there's nothing written down. They only become valuable when I physically write them down into stories, at which point, they are automatically copyrighted to me.

I mean, if your idea was for some useful thing you could patent, then yeah, be careful with it, but for a fiction novel? Sharing with experts really isn't a big deal. Also, someone is always going to be able to compare your work to something that has already been done. And what motive would a psychologist or biologist have for plagiarizing your novel concept?

I really wouldn't sweat it. And if you write the book, release it, and it gets absurdly popular, you're going to get knockoffs, but otherwise, meh.

kaitie
04-07-2013, 02:30 AM
Think of it this way. 99% of the books submitted aren't good enough to be published. That means you would not only have to come across someone who would actually try to write your idea, but someone good enough for it to matter. The chances of that are really, really unlikely.

I've gone to outside sources plenty of times, even other writers, and honestly, the more I learned, the more I realized this tends to be a fear without basis.

And as the others said, the words are copyrighted the second you write them. You don't have to do anything special to do otherwise. Most people suggesting this sort of thing don't understand how copyright works, so you might hear it a lot. I still get it.

Crimson Thorns
04-07-2013, 03:31 AM
Understood. Thank you all! :)

cornflake
04-07-2013, 06:16 AM
Think of it this way - I know someone who, when ketchup and other condiments were only in glass bottles, apparently used to say repeatedly that they should be in plastic squeezy ones.

Some time after, Heinz came out with the squeezy plastic ketchup bottle and said friend was apparently peeved, convinced they'd missed out on the bajillion-dollar idea.

One day friend called Heinz and asked about the bottles and was told that the idea had been around for ages, like since plastic - the problem was developing a plastic that was the proper whatever to be molded into the correct shape on a line but not lose its shape when hot ketchup was poured in but was thin enough to squeeze and food grade and X weight for shipping and able to be produced in y tones for z money and etc., etc., etc.

It's not the idea, it's the execution.

Cornelius Gault
04-07-2013, 07:45 AM
I think it should be possible to ask any worthwhile source questions in a "generic" way to find the feasibility of such a process, without giving away the plot of your book. Keep in mind that the single idea ("Can robots show emotion?") upon which you build your book is not the same as your particular plot. A hundred different authors can examine this question and come up with completely different books (and probably already have).

Also, if you are using the sources to validate some processes (to see if they make sense in the physics world, for instance), then it may be necessary to show them samples of particular segments where the technical terminology needs validated. I doubt that your story has these technical terms in every single paragraph, requiring that you show them the entire book at one time.

... IMHO ...

robertbevan
04-07-2013, 02:06 PM
Think of it this way - I know someone who, when ketchup and other condiments were only in glass bottles, apparently used to say repeatedly that they should be in plastic squeezy ones.

Some time after, Heinz came out with the squeezy plastic ketchup bottle and said friend was apparently peeved, convinced they'd missed out on the bajillion-dollar idea.

One day friend called Heinz and asked about the bottles and was told that the idea had been around for ages, like since plastic - the problem was developing a plastic that was the proper whatever to be molded into the correct shape on a line but not lose its shape when hot ketchup was poured in but was thin enough to squeeze and food grade and X weight for shipping and able to be produced in y tones for z money and etc., etc., etc.

It's not the idea, it's the execution.

that's a great story, cornflake. thanks for sharing.

FOTSGreg
04-07-2013, 10:11 PM
Let me give you an example - for my book Hatchings I consulted Drs Karen Simes (expert on wasp parasitology and my science consultant - also the first person to read the first draft) and Richard Dudley (expert on insect flight dynamics & characteristics) at UC Berkeley, an expert on kudzu at the University of Alabama, five (entomology) PhD candidates at UC Berkeley, multiple genetic researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Joint Genome Institute, and the director of and researchers for and with UC Berkeley's insect research center. Every one of those people knew what my book was about, but gave me the time and their expertise because they understood that I was working on a hard science fiction book related to their field(s) of specialty. It's been 6 years since I did the research and 3 years since I self-published the book.

There has not been even one single case of plagiarism of my book or idea that I am aware of and every one of those individuals received an electronic copy of my book in its final form.

Professionals and experts in their fields are just that - professionals. They understand the cost to them if they were to plagiarize an idea and get caught doing it. Besides, they have a helluva' lot of things on their plates already including their own ideas. Professionals and experts simply don't have time to steal someone else's ideas or work.

If someone is nice enough to lend you their expertise, be sure to acknowledge them and their contributions in your work. It makes you look like a pro too.

Arpeggio
04-08-2013, 01:16 AM
When I was new I felt kind of paranoid about this myself. If you are looking to bolster or prove your own ideas with external things that correlate then you shouldn't need to give away your "commercial secrets" when asking.

If you are looking to enhance or develop your own ideas, perhaps not but in such a case I think FOTSGreg makes good sense.

Colleen Cowley
04-11-2013, 05:07 AM
Let me give you an example - for my book Hatchings I consulted Drs Karen Simes (expert on wasp parasitology and my science consultant - also the first person to read the first draft) and Richard Dudley (expert on insect flight dynamics & characteristics) at UC Berkeley, an expert on kudzu at the University of Alabama, five (entomology) PhD candidates at UC Berkeley, multiple genetic researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Joint Genome Institute, and the director of and researchers for and with UC Berkeley's insect research center.


Wow. I am very impressed with the extent of your research.

Did you know any of these specialists before you approached them about your book?

aibrean
04-11-2013, 06:41 PM
A technicality, but yes you can register ideas to a degree.

With pre-registration, you can provide a detailed synopsis of your work and it will protect you until you officially register it. You don't have to have a manuscript.

onesecondglance
04-11-2013, 08:03 PM
Register where? Protect you how?

aibrean
04-11-2013, 09:05 PM
Register where? Protect you how?

It was for the OP. We can do it in the states. I doubt there is something similar in the UK.

http://copyright.gov/prereg/


Preregistration is not a substitute for registration. Its purpose is to allow an infringement action to be brought before the authorized commercial distribution of a work and full registration thereof, and to make it possible, upon full registration, for the copyright owner to receive statutory damages and attorneys' fees in an infringement action.

Shadow_Ferret
04-11-2013, 09:34 PM
Ideas are a dime a dozen. It's the execution that matters.

Supposing 10 other writers got ahold of your idea and they all thought it was interesting enough to write about and they each felt up to the task, at the end of the day you'd end up with 11 completely different novels.

Put your energy to expanding yiur idea into your own novel and don't waste it worrying that someone else might steal your idea.

If you look at any genre and break all the novels down to their most basic component, they all have a basic premise and yet they all show different execution. Take Urban Fantasy: they all start with the idea "what if magic and the supernatural existed in our modern urban world?" But Harry Dresden novels are different from the Anita Blake novels which are different from the Sookie Stackhouse novels which are again different from television shows like Supernatural, Warehouse 13, and the Vampire Diaries.

onesecondglance
04-11-2013, 10:18 PM
So you register your synopsis on that site... and then what? Say someone puts out a book six months later with a similar concept - how do you prove they ripped you off? And wouldn't it be your dollar taking them to court?

I don't really see how it changes the situation.

aibrean
04-11-2013, 11:15 PM
So you register your synopsis on that site... and then what? Say someone puts out a book six months later with a similar concept - how do you prove they ripped you off? And wouldn't it be your dollar taking them to court?

I don't really see how it changes the situation.
For the USA:
Pre-registration protects you until you have the ability to register it. It would be your dollar taking them to court (a LOT of dollars) even if you were to register a completed manuscript.

shelleyo
04-11-2013, 11:43 PM
The only thing that paying for copyright registration does is grant you the ability to sue for compensatory damages in the event that you discover your copyright has been infringed. Your work is copyrighted to you when you create it. You hold the copyright. Paying to officially register only adds the ability to sue a copyright infringer for cash.

This seems an unlikely event for most people, in both the infringement on such a wide scale that it messes with income (because if it doesn't demonstrably affect this, suing would be pretty pointless) and the ability/desire to bring an actual lawsuit in the hopes of getting money for damages.

If I self-published something that hit the top of the charts and started making me money hand over fist, I might register it for the ability to sue someone messing with those dollahs. Otherwise, no.

veinglory
04-11-2013, 11:59 PM
The simplest way to protect an unpublished idea, should you want to do that, is to not tell people about it.

onesecondglance
04-12-2013, 01:33 AM
Paying to officially register only adds the ability to sue a copyright infringer for cash.

Like I said then. No real benefit in doing so.