The Write Calling

Is writing your true calling? Here you'll find encouragements for writers, book reviews, publishing industry insider tips, and market news. Read musings on writing and publishing by Katey Coffing, Ph.D.: Life Coach for Women Writers.

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Location: Colorado, United States

Published fiction and nonfiction author who embraces her creativity and coaches other women to do the same. For information and prices, visit

Friday, September 08, 2006

Agents and Idea-Stealing

Music I'm listening to: ABC's How to be a Millionaire

Today I held a consultation with another smart and successful woman—and a blog reader! (waving hello)

She has some great ideas, as well as manuscripts that have been lying around in the beginning stages for years. She wants focus and accountability, and I'm excited to help her get her manuscripts completed and submitted. Have I mentioned how much I love my job? :)

Lots to catch up on with the blog, so here's the first part. My new client had a good question, one I often hear from people newly come to the publishing world: how can a writer protect her book ideas from theft? After all, in other business areas, confidentiality agreements are standard practice.

In the U.S., it isn't possible to copyright ideas (and I'd assume this is true elsewhere). This makes sense for books, because the real value of a good idea is in the execution of it. Any two people with the same book idea would necessarily write two different books. So, your job is to finish a damn good novel (or nonfiction proposal) and send it out into the world. As long as you're submitting to reputable agents or publishers, there's no need to be concerned.

In the interest of being thorough, here are some more Web resources.

The simplest answer came from agent Rachel Vater, who's now with Lowenstein-Yost.

For a snarkier answer, read #4 here.

There are no posts at Miss Snark's stellar blog that address this in a nice way—but hey, we ARE talking about Miss Snark, so let's not feign surprise. (g) Here you go.

Also, here's an article at the SFWA website that might fill in any gaps about copyright.

I hope this helps!


Blogger Kathy said...

Oh my gosh! I cannot believe I have gone from "blog lurker" to "blog subject"!

I have already been diligently following your advice - forward movement of any kind is a positive development on this front.

Thanks Katey!

best regards,

September 08, 2006 7:55 PM  
Blogger Katey Coffing, Ph.D. said...

You're so welcome! I had the feeling our discussion could help other writers, so thank you for giving me a reason to post about this. :-)

September 08, 2006 8:02 PM  

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