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Thread: Protecting Yourself and Your WIP

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  1. #1
    Five by Five katiemac's Avatar
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    Exclamation Protecting Yourself and Your WIP

    If you choose to have a beta reader, you should take some precautions to protect yourself and your work. The majority of individuals who volunteer to be beta readers really are excellent, excellent people, and you can find proof of that in some other stickied threads in the forum. Beta-author plagiarism isn't common, but it's impractical to suggest plagiarism doesn't exist. Fear of this kind of plagiarism shouldn't stop you from finding a beta reader. However, no matter what, you should always take measures to protect your work.

    1. Check out the copyright laws of your area. United States copyright laws (linked) state that "Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device."

    2. Know your beta. Don't send your work over the Internet to someone you do not trust 100 percent. It's okay to start small--send a chapter or two before the entire manuscript. This is also a way to make sure you and your beta are a good match. The same goes for betas: Know your author.

    3. Agree on the level of criticism. If you want a line-by-line critique, make sure your beta is willing to provide one. Many do not go into in-depth critiques. When authors and betas agree upfront on the level of critique, they are more likely to see the project through.

    4. Save old drafts. Although it's unnecessary to e-mail yourself a copy of your work (check out the "poor man's copyright" in the link above) to be protected, it's not a bad idea to have dated drafts of your WIP.

    5. Save correspondence between you and your beta. This kind of violates #2, since you should be trusting your beta 100 percent. Still, having proof of correspondence is helpful for both you and your beta.

    6. Beta readers are not for everyone. If you don't want to share your work, you don't have to.

    To all of you wonderful beta readers out there: Don't depress. We're not accusing you guys of thievery. Still, it's great to recognize on both sides that the issue of plagiarism does exist. Protecting yourself from potential accusations is as important as a writer protecting his or her work.
    Last edited by katiemac; 10-23-2008 at 08:28 AM.

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