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  1. #1
    A Newbie
    Guest

    Protecting myself

    I have not yet completed a manuscript, but am asked by an agent to submit a description of my book. I have not copyrighted it, as yet. I am concerned about getting ripped off.

    1. How can I protect myself in this situation and still get the agent's assessment?

    2. At what point should I file for copyright and how is that done? How finished must the manuscript be?

    3. If I submit a related article to a periodical before the book is done, do I need a separate copyright and at what point should I submit the article relative to the book completion schedule?

    Thanks in advance for any advice you can provide.



  2. #2
    leslee
    Guest

    Re: Protecting myself

    Just my opinion, feel free to ignore:

    You already have the copyright, it's just a question of whether or not you want to register it. There have been dozens of threads on this subject in this forum, and if you want to read them, just do a search of old threads. We debate this issue quite frequently.

    Nothing can protect you from theft. Registration of copyright does not slap the hand of a would-be thief. But if you register the copyright, you have an excellent tool for your attorney to use if you wind up in a battle later on.

    It's cheap. $30 I think. And you can download the materials from the internet.

    It's very rare that anyone has their work stolen, but it does happen. My opinion is that it's worth the $30 bucks to register the copyright, but others feel it isn't necessary at all. It's one of those decisions that's completely personal to the writer.

  3. #3
    Diana W
    Guest

    Re: Protecting myself

    Newbie,

    If you're writing fiction, you should not be querying agents until the manuscript is complete, revised and revised again (and again). If you're writing nonfiction, you should have a non-fiction proposal complete (and much of the manuscript) before you begin to query agents. From the sounds of it, you might be getting ahead of yourself. Trust me, you don't want to send an agent a first draft. How did you get in touch with this agent?

    As for your question, you do not need to copyright your manuscript. I believe US law is that once a body of work is created, it's considered copyrighted. You don't need to do any official paperwork.

    Also, agents are not in the business of stealing story ideas or manuscripts so I wouldn't worry about that.

  4. #4
    jayce
    Guest

    Re: Protecting myself

    Unscrupulous agents make their money by conning unsuspecting writers out of their cash, not by stealing manuscripts--which they would then have to sell to a publisher, which is something they don't know how to do or they would be real, honest-to-god agents in the first place.

  5. #5
    A Newbie
    Guest

    Re: Protecting myself

    It is non-fiction and I am going to a conference put on by a regional writers' coop. They are offering individual meetings with agents, but I must write a description of the work before they will schedule me.

    I'm trying to get from the agents a sense of what they're looking for, in what form, how to title it, and how to market it. Also, I will be creating a website and other peripherals to go with the work.

  6. #6
    Mya Bell
    Guest

    Re: Protecting myself

    Newbie, it is quite common to sell nonfiction without a completed manuscript, but you must have a very clean, complete, professional proposal.

    Look up resources (including the archives on this site) on writing a nonfiction proposal. There are many good resources to help you with this step.

    Here's a link to a very basic overview of the proposal contents, but don't rely on this source alone, check others:

    <http://72.14.207.104/search?q=cache:INiZS_be5GMJ:www.rosenberggroup.com/nonfiction.pdf+%22writing+a+nonfiction+proposal%22 &hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=2>

    --- Mya Bell

  7. #7
    Mya Bell
    Guest

    Re: Protecting myself

    As for copyrighting your idea, you can't. Ideas can be patented, but they can't be copyrighted. Copyright protects the original execution of an artistic work, not the basic idea behind it.

    So, if you're worried about the idea for your book being stolen, then the best way to protect yourself is to work with honest professionals with good reputations. Make sure you do your homework on the people who have requested your proposal.

    --- Mya Bell

  8. #8
    Wonky
    Guest

    Re: Protecting myself

    Here's how to protect yourself: If any agent asks you for $$ for ANYTHING, run to the hills. It's a scammer. No legit agent charges reading fees, submission fees, etc.

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