Protecting Unpublished Work Before the Printing Press

Every month in Writer's Digest's InkWell section, we pose a question related to the writing life. Tell us your thoughts.
wdwdwd
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Re: Protecting Unpublished Work Before the Printing Press

Postby wdwdwd » Sun Aug 25, 2013 10:45 am

The act that really answered that same burning question for me was reading Donald Maas. His books are dated, but they really helped me to see that as an author, your value is in your "brand". You have to be the one to create it, to get people to know who you are, and to be waiting impatiently for your next novel. I was completely bowled over by the fact that the industry is such a machine that it wouldn't just hand me my fortune for one brilliant peice. I was freaked for a few months after that, suddenly aware of the fact that this would have to be a lifelong career for me (the very thing I was trying to avoid by publishing one hit and retiring to the woods). Then I started to notice how many novels most authors whom I'd heard of had published, and I was REALLY bowled over (one day my jerk-boss handed me this paperback by a guy who'd written 150 novels. He did it on purpose because he knew I was struggling with this issue. I'm gonna write the nastiest book about him :lol:. Anyway, I think that literally put me into a little state of legitimate shock.) But one of the positive aspects of this thought-evolution was that I realized that no one can steal my work - it was my responsibility to reach inside of myself and identify 1) whether I did have more than one novel inside (thank god I do - everyone does! There are lots of encouraging self-helpy books that can help you there), and 2) outline them before I ever reveal them to anyone - because that's what an agent needs to see before she or he will even talk to you - they have to see that you have a pipeline's worth of material that they can count on to be able to sell - you're a team. 3) learn to pace myself so I can produce them regularly. THAT's when I began to understand writing as a profession, and by the time I was done realizing all this (it took me about six months), it was clear to me that I had seven solid ideas, and that they were truly valuable, but in a realistic way - in a way that fits into the marketplace, and that no other person could write them or steal them because I'd pulled my "voice" out from deep inside, so no one else could tell the stories - they could only be told by me. And suddenly I realized that I had a really wildly surprising perspective - like standing on a big hill overlooking the terrain of my stories - something I really never expected to experience. Augh - I hope this is clear, and I hope it's helpful. At any rate, I recommend checking out Donald Maas, and hanging in there. It gets scary sometimes, but I really did experience that (because it only came very very CLOSE to killing me and not killing me) it made me so much stronger I simply couldn't believe it.

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