View Full Version : Worried about my work

02-12-2007, 02:31 PM
I recently finished my very first novel and was looking to find an agent/publisher etc; but before I looked for an agent, I wanted someone to read it through for me. I e-mailed my work to a male friend in another continent (USA) who offered to proofread it for me and help edit it. He's been a friend of mine for 6 years and I've shared a lot of private things with him about myself, so felt as though I could trust him.
After I e-mailed him my work 10 days ago, he wrote back and said that he had a friend in a big publishing company in the USA, I didn't know this beforehand, I wouldn't have sent it if I had known this. He has hardly said anything about my work since the first day, in which he said it was good and he was very proud of me for doing it.

I know this sounds really paranoid; but I'm worried that he might pass on my work to this person in the publishing house without my permission. I didn't even put the copyright notice on my work and am worried that I may have lost my work. I have loads of proof that this work is mine via CD roms, saved work via e-mails etc, which obviously have dates on them; I even have old original outlines with the dates on the saved work on my PC and the CD roms.

But how would I ever find out if my work has been passed on, and what can I do about it if he has passed this on to this publisher friend without my say so? Without copyright notice, do I stand a chance if he's stolen my work and passed it on? What can I do to ensure myself without going onto something like Lulu and publishing it today, even though I would have preferred to have it done by an agent and published as a book.
I feel really downhearted now.


02-12-2007, 02:37 PM
I doubt you have anything to worry about.

You're probably just gotten a little anxious with your work finally being sent out and now you're imagining all sort of things.

02-12-2007, 02:41 PM
Thank you, Alleycat. I know that you're right and yes, I do feel very anxious about it.
I've never achieved anything worthwhile in my life yet, and so really feel protective about my work and what's happening to it I suppose.

02-12-2007, 03:21 PM
You don't have to put a copyright notice on the work for it to still be legally yours, at least not in the US.

I understand that registering work is a bit different when it comes to screenplays which get rewritten, reinterpreted and significantly changed not just once but many times before making it to the screen--but I can't imagine that any reputable publisher--let alone one of the big ones--would dream of publishing a novel they didn't legally have the rights to.

Honestly, even if your friend does show it to his contact--you really don't have anything to worry about. And perhaps you'll get some good feedback.

Linda Adams
02-12-2007, 03:30 PM
I'm jealous. A friend in a big publishing house? One of the common ways agents have been saying they find new manuscripts is through referral. If your friend likes the manuscript, he could refer you to the friend. Of course, if he wants to do that, he'll tell you first because he'll want to see your excited reaction to the good news. Besides, if he was going to steal your work, he certainly wouldn't have mentioned the publishing friend to you.

The Lady
02-12-2007, 04:23 PM
No, there's no way he's going to steal your work. Anyway, they'd be interested in acquiring the author not just one book by her. Perhaps this friend has little influence anyway but still might be able to give you some good feedback.

02-12-2007, 04:41 PM
Thank you very much everyone; you're all very kind for quelling my silly fears. I suppose I just feel a bit itchy about it and that it seems out of my hands at the moment. I guess he'd be pretty peed off at me if he thought I was doubting his integrity and friendship.
With the publishing house: Some parts of my work are a bit risque and I told my friend that I don't they would touch it anyway.

Thank you all once agai.


02-12-2007, 05:35 PM
If I had a list of all the things a new writer should worry about, "friend passing unfinished manucscript to their friend at a major publisher" would be way down that list.

Julie Worth
02-12-2007, 06:08 PM
I always worry when friends don't comment on my work, or suddenly seem unavailable. But it is always the same: they're embarrassed to tell me how many problems they found in it.

02-12-2007, 06:40 PM
LOL and thank you.

I consider my work as finished and have been looking for agencies to get myself published. I have just posted on here and asked about my very first query letter. That probably sucks anyway?


Cathy C
02-12-2007, 07:25 PM
Never fear! You're protected from the minute you put words on the screen in the UK. Britain has no formal registration system like the US does, so you don't have to do a thing to protect yourself. It's recommended that you put the international symbol for a copyright (a c in a circle) on the work along with date, to notify the general public, but it's not required. Wander over to the UK Patent Office's FAQ page (http://www.patent.gov.uk/copy/c-claim/c-auto.htm) and read up on your rights. :)

Good luck, and I hope something good comes of your sending the ms. to your friend.

02-12-2007, 07:37 PM
Thank you very much, Cathy, and for the very helpful link.

I guess I just got the heebie-jeebies and then wrote this down; but it has made me start looking for agencies in which to submit my work to, so something came good out of it.


02-12-2007, 07:39 PM
It's a whole lot less trouble for a publisher just to work with you, the author, than to go to the trouble of stealing your work and pretending it belongs to someone else. The payoff for them is the same either way, so why should they bother? Not to mention, when a work is published, lots of people will see it, which means the odds of discovery go way up. Why commit a crime and then expose yourself in public?

As for agents--if your manuscript is publishable, a good agent will want to work with you for the reasons above. If your ms. isn't publishable, she won't want to work with you at all. A bad agent, by contrast, doesn't care if your ms. is good or bad--he just wants your money. If you don't pay, he won't have any further interest in you or your ms.

On the long, long list of things new writers need to worry about, theft is absolutely at rock bottom.

- Victoria

02-12-2007, 07:46 PM
I think the only thing to worry about is someone sharing your work with another person against your wishes, when you wanted it to stay confidential. This would be a betrayal of trust, but if he's a true friend you don't have anything to worry about anyway.

02-12-2007, 09:06 PM

Hey, this is all good. Relax and enjoy your inside track. Not having the copyright symbol on your ms. is a good thing too. Agents and publishers tend to get twitchy when they see 'em on mss., as they tend to reveal a writer's insecurities about theft. With all things being equal, they'd rather work with people who don't go into a relationship with suspicions about their integrity. So this worked out well.

02-12-2007, 09:32 PM
Thank you very much peeps, you're all most kind and really helful.
After I'd had the replies to this, I realized what a plonker I am and wished that I could have deleted it, I think I just panicked about my work being 'out' there and who might be reading it.