Monday, June 25, 2007

The Paranoid Writer

This is a subject matter most people tend to shy away from because no one really wants to admit they are in this paranoid category. However, if it is never pointed out or identified they may never reach his or her goal of becoming a published author. With that said, let’s get down to business.

The Paranoid Writer

What do you do when you complete your final draft of your manuscript? Do you immediately seek friends and family to read it to give their opinion? On the other hand, are you so confident that you hold a masterpiece in your hands that you want to submit it immediately to an agent or publisher? After several days, weeks or months, you’ve found that you’ve done absolutely nothing. Why? Because you’re afraid someone will steal your story. You’ve become so paranoid of that notion; your book is collecting dust in a desk drawer or closet.

Signs of a Paranoid Writer:

  • You want to copyright it before it is read by anyone
  • You join a writers group but won’t let anyone read it
  • You won’t allow anyone beyond your spouse or close family member to look at it
  • You start every conversation about your book with, ‘I’m hesitant to let anyone read…” or “I’m worried about someone stealing…”
  • You write inside your query letter to the agent/publisher that you are worry about them stealing your work
  • You avoid joining a writers group because you don’t want anyone to steal it
  • You won’t even talk about the premise of your book to anyone

Questions you should ask yourself when hesitating:

  • What’s the point of having a masterpiece if no one will ever see it?
  • Do you really think that an agent or publisher wants to work with someone who’s going to constantly question their motives?
  • Am I really so arrogant?

What can I do?

  • First of all, there’s nothing wrong with a little paranoia. It’s very possible that there are people who would steal your story. Just don’t become so paranoid that your novel will never see the light of day.
  • Get in your head that copyrighting the manuscript ahead of time is not only a waste of time (I’ll explain later) but may hamper your chances of getting it published; unless of course, you self publish your novel.
  • A good writers group affords you the ability to do some needed editing. When self-editing, it is easy to missed minor mistakes, especially when the author has read his own manuscript half a dozen times already. Friends and family tend not to be honest with the author and keep their real opinion to themselves. A writers group can offer honesty.
  • Publisher/agents will not work with authors they deem too much trouble to work with; it is neither appropriate nor condone to mention in either query letter or if you should make it that far, too say during a phone conversation.
  • Lastly, if you won’t talk to anyone about what you have written, how can you test the waters to see if there is an interest in the subject matter you have written?

If any of the above does not help you at all, then perhaps you should consider self-publishing.


Copyrighting – There are a couple of problems with copyrighting your manuscript before it is contracted. Number one, if any type of modification occurs within the book, the author must copyright it all over again with the changes. Two, publishers/agents are reluctant to work with an author if he has already copyrighted the book. Three, as soon as the author has written anything into the manuscript, it is considered copyrighted and is legally binding in a court of law. As long as the author has proof that he possesses the original, he is protected. (Never submit your only copy of the manuscript)

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