How to Stop People Stealing Your Work
I see quite a lot of people asking a very similar question:
If I share my writing with others for feedback, how do I stop them stealing it?
There are a few methods you can take which will mitigate the risk, but before we get into that, I think it’s important to say one thing.
Nobody is going to steal your work.
Yes, it does happen occasionally, but not commonly enough for it to be a concern, especially as there are very simple things you can do to lessen the already small risk.
Your Writing is Your Property
Would you ask a bunch of strangers on the internet if they wanted to borrow your car to see how it drove? Probably not, so don’t do it with your writing. Your novel, short story, poem, article, or creative writing is a piece of property that has value, so make sure you treat it the same way as your other belongings. Only give it to people that you know. If your circle of writer friends is quite small or non-existent, then extend it. Interact with other writers, either online or in person, and build up your relationship before you give them your book. Also, this will increase the rate at which you get feedback. If you send your work to one hundred strangers, only a few of them will end up giving you feedback, but if you give it to five or six people you trust and have a relationship with, most, if not all, will get back to you.
Print the Book
It’s not always possible, but you can print your writing out to give to people. If they’re local this is quite easy, but if they’re not you can invest a bit of money in posting it to them.
Protect the Document
If you can’t print and/or post your writing to people and are emailing it to them, you can lock the document. Most word processors will have this feature (Word definitely does) and you can set it so the only thing people are allowed to do is add comments. Set a good password for it and it’s relatively safe. This isn’t a bad idea even if you’re not worried about people stealing it. Accidents can happen and they could delete something or change something without meaning to.
Overall, a couple of simple changes reduce the risk of people stealing your work to almost zero. Nothing is perfect and it is still possible that you will come across an unscrupulous person who does try and steal your writing. Just make sure that you have some level of proof that you wrote it (so you can assert your copyright) and keep a record of the exchange showing that you gave it to them for feedback, in case anything does happen. Send them an email or a message detailing the terms before you hand over your work and save the proof somewhere safe if you ever need it.
© 2019 Davina Chime
Available under the Thanet Writers Education Policy
Davina Chime is a Thanet-born hopeless romantic.