I recently helped run a short story contest for Second Wind Publishing, LLC — the first contest that was sponsored solely by the company — and it went smoothly. Until last week. That’s when we found out one of the finalists had copied a story from another writer who had posted it on the Internet. Whoooo. So not the thing to do!
Deborah J Ledford, a friend and fellow author keeps warning me about posting my writing on the Internet since such episodes are not uncommon, but I still persist in posting just about everything I write except for my novels. And even then, I post the first chapters on various sites. It might be prudent to be careful of what I post, but I have only one way of selling my books — getting known. And the only way I have of getting known is to write articles, bloggeries, mini fiction (100 word stories), whatever my brain can conjure up in the hopes of attracting some attention.
The way I figure it, a person can decide to trust everyone and post at will or distrust everyone and never post. So far, it’s been worth the risk. One of my blog posts was copied once, but I notified Google, and they made the people remove it. More importantly, I have made many friends because of my posts. I’d hate to have to worry about posting what I write — what new friends might I end up not meeting if I curtailed my writing? Still, it’s something to be aware of.
Plagiarism by Mike Simpson, Second Wind publisher
August 17, 2009 at 8:19 pm
Very scary, Pat. The only real protection we have is to be very careful about who we as writers share our work with. My suggestion is not to post any WIP anywhere on the Internet. Although even the first word you write is technically protected under copyright, there are those who will ignore this protection. If you want to receive input, send the work via private email.
August 17, 2009 at 10:05 pm
Deborah, I’m looking forward to posting your article about copyright. It will be a valuable reference for writers.
August 17, 2009 at 8:31 pm
I thought about posting my full novel, but I need to be careful. Still, my Prologue is up at: http://wulfstein.wordpress.com/
August 17, 2009 at 10:09 pm
I’ve known people who’ve posted their full novel. One thing to consider before doing so is that once you’ve published it on the web, it’s considered published, and might not be eligible for publication elsewhere.
I’ve only posted single chapters, but one-third of each of my novels is available for download from Smashwords. Perhaps it makes a difference if it’s a download? At least you’d know who downloaded it!
August 18, 2009 at 6:45 pm
I wonder how that applies to posting a novel on textnovel. I’d heard that if the site is password protected publishers are less likely to call it published. Do you know if that’s true?
August 18, 2009 at 11:33 pm
I heard this is true 😉
August 19, 2009 at 6:38 pm
I wouldn’t count on it, but it seems possible since if something is password protected it’s not available to the public. I’ve also heard that if you delete your online work before submitting it, that it can pass for unpublished, but I wouldn’t count on that either. There are no real secrets on the internet.
August 17, 2009 at 8:35 pm
I’m posting my full novel up on my blog. Yes, having it stolen is a risk. Yes, it could be used in a contest without my permission. I do check http://www.copyscape.com regularly however and make sure nothing is being posted elsewhere without my permission. So far the internet has been clean of my work. Hopefully it will continue to be that way.
August 17, 2009 at 10:03 pm
I know people who have posted novels on the Internet without incident. I’d forgotten about copyscape — it’s good to have a site that can show you if anything of yours is ever posted.
August 18, 2009 at 6:48 pm
Wow! Copyscape is neat. I just tried it out and it found where I’d posted a copy of one my posts in just moments. Very neat.
August 17, 2009 at 8:44 pm
Actually I had heard of poems and short stories being stolen, but not novels. I think a full novel is too elaborate to be stolen, hence maybe it is safe. Hope my judgement is correct:
August 17, 2009 at 10:11 pm
It’s easier to get poems and short stories published than it is a novel, so perhaps that’s one reason novels aren’t as frequently stolen.
August 18, 2009 at 6:46 pm
Good point. Scary point too.
August 17, 2009 at 9:31 pm
(Hello! My first visit. 🙂 )
I think it’s something to stay balanced on. If you’re sharing your work and collecting readers and a fanbase, that’s more people who are going to watch for your writing popping up elsewhere and more people to help you out if it happens. These people may not find you if you have nothing to share.
Personally, I decide when I write something whether I want to share it or not. If I want to save a short story, etc. for a contest or magazine, I won’t share it on my blog – but I’ve written some stuff specifically for my blog, and I share that.
Just my two cents!
August 17, 2009 at 9:59 pm
Paige, Welcome! That’s a good point about having more people watch to see if one’s writing pops up elsewhere. The blog post of mine that had been copied was found by a reader. Just one more reason to build a fanbase!
August 18, 2009 at 11:35 pm
Very well said, Paige. There is a great need for a new writer to break out!!
August 18, 2009 at 3:14 am
Hello, my first visit as well. 🙂
I post works on the Internet, usually on Goodreads – for review and comment. I only post chunks of the first draft of a novel, since it will be far removed from the final (3rd draft) version – but I can get feedback on story structure. plot twists and characters. I have posted some complete short stories.
No problems so far. And, as most here say, you have to get known and followed somehow!
August 18, 2009 at 11:11 am
Great Post, Pat! Another reason I only publish what I’ve already published. I figure if they want to copyright excerpts of my novel, they’re welcomed to it. What I don’t know won’t hurt me. Seriously, there will always be honest people and dishonest people.
August 18, 2009 at 11:38 pm
Glad to see you here 😉 If we are to be tooo careful, we would have to lock our novels in the cupboard forever!!!