New author, should I be afraid of sharing my book ideas? Will people steal them?

Eli Grey

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Nov 17, 2016
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Philadelphia, PA
I have learned that once you're confident enough in your idea and you've polished it enough, you stop worrying whether someone will steal it. After all of the research and rewrites, etc., you come to realize just how important the work is to you and you learn to keep quiet on the details. You learn how much to reveal and to whom and what to keep secret. The more you invest in building and expanding the idea, the less concern you come to have.
 

apocalypsegal

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Apr 17, 2017
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Oh, someone might "steal" your idea. So what? I'd just about bet real money that any idea you have, a million other people have it as well. Probably crazily close, too. The thing is, will you write yours into a story? Most people don't.

In the end, ideas really aren't important. The story is. That's what people will pay for.

You may find that talking about your idea, your story, isn't productive. Not only will your family not really get what you want to do, but you can talk yourself out and then not have any desire to actually write the story. Wait until you have a finished draft, and then talk with other writers. People who will get you, who will see if you've missed something, if the story works.
 

zmunkz

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USA
Don’t worry. Many people do at first, it’s a common thread here and other similar sites, but the consensus is normally the same: won’t happen.

Truth is most people aren’t very good writers, so if one of these hypothetical thiefs did steal it, the odds they could sell it somewhere are a solid zero. And the good writers who can sell stuff? Well, they typically have more ideas than time to write the stories. On-boarding someone else’s idea means pushing aside one of their own... and who wants to do that?

As for publishers and other professionals... they are trying to invest in brands. Someone that can write a bunch of books, since the first one probably won’t earn out anyway. What use is stealing a book that needs a lot of work to sell (not personal— they all do!) if they don’t have a writer coming along with it to make the changes?

The risk is monumentally small, whereas the benefits of workshopping with a community are enormous.
 

Wayne Mack

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Chantilly, Virginia, US
Just to reiterate some of the excellent points already made, the idea is not what makes a story, it is the presentation of said idea.

Do not be afraid to present an idea, particularly as a writing segment for critique. No one else has your particular writing voice and that voice is what attracts readers. There are no 'killer' ideas out there, it is an established meme that there are no new ideas.

In terms of this site, the participants enjoy coming up with their own ideas and insights not repeating the insights of others. We may use a presented idea as a starting point, but the pleasure comes from how to twist and expand upon the idea to present something that feels new to the world. The writing aspect then takes over as someone tries to create an interesting presentation of the idea.

I hope this eases some of your concerns. We are interested in the craft of writing and will not nor cannot steal your presentation. Let's just grow together.
 

Thiswriterinme

I. S. Talbot
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Jan 24, 2020
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Maine
I used to be nervous about sharing my writing as well. I focused on connecting with other writers so we could encourage each other. I made a lot of connections and through that, I gained confidence. By connecting with other writers, I was able to get insight and feedback into my own work, but without sharing large portions of it. We would talk in terms of general ideas, plot progressions, or character arcs, and brainstorm how those would fit into whatever we happened to be working on at the time. If you can get with a group of writers like that, you'll learn how to ask for feedback without sharing more than you are comfortable with.

Another option is to work with a writing coach for feedback and assistance. Writing coaches are paid to guide writers in their story creation. Any reputable writing coach won't be in the business of stealing their client's work, or they wouldn't have a client base. It is a professional setting to have your writing reviewed by an expert, without the fear that once it is on the internet, anyone will have access to it.

It is probably also important to determine what you mean by "stealing" in this context. Are you concerned someone will copy and paste your entire project and then try to pass it off as their own? Because that is unlikely to happen, especially if you stick to forums with other writers who are all working on their own projects. Maybe you're concerned that parts of your story could get stolen, like specific characters, your plot, or the world you built? This is where it can get tricky on that path of "ideas can't be copywrited," "original ideas" and "what hasn't been done before."

I've read some pretty intense copywrite lawsuits recently with writers in bitter battles over books that were supposedly "stolen." Addison Cain, an author of Omegaverse M/F fiction, sued another author, Zoey Ellis, who also writes M/F Omegaverse fiction. The lawsuit was because Cain felt like Ellis had based her work off of the books that Cain wrote, thus were plagiarised. The claims she made were in regards to common themes and tropes used in the Omegaverse genre. In the end, Cain's publisher had to admit there was no infringement on tropes, themes, and ideas (because they didn't own them), coming to some kind of settlement with Ellis (this may have resulted in part due to Cain's lying in court and Ellis asking her to be held in contempt and sanctioned for perjury). Either way, this is one of many copywrite lawsuits that show common themes and ideas can't be owned by any one person. Granted, Addison Cain also claims to be the first author to write heterosexual Omegaverse fiction (even though it has existed in M/M and M/F forms on fanfiction sites since as far back as 2010, years before her first book was published, where it originated from a Supernatural fanbase). I digress, apparently abuse of copywrite law is a sore spot for me. My apologies.

Anyway, with how fluidly ideas are exchanged, tweaked, remixed, reinvented, and reworked, you should think about what you would consider "being stolen" in regards to your work. This might help you decide if you want to share some of it online, how you want to share it, or who you want to share it with.
 
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Karn's Return

I'M WADDLE DEE!!!
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Oct 24, 2018
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Ultimately, don't worry. No need to bother worrying. There are no original ideas left.


That said, your own personal core tweaks and the like are yours. And it will really all depend on where you share something, but here on Chrons we tend to be a pretty tight-knit community, you can share and ask for help as you like.
 

Toby Frost

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While I agree with everything that's been said about this, and I stick with my comment earlier, the one area where I might consider in keeping a story secret would be where the idea had a very high concept that nobody appeared to have thought of before: for example, "Dinosaurs in a safari park". If I was certain that: (a) I was a good enough writer to have a decent chance of being published; (b) my idea was highly publishable; and (c) nobody else had done anything like this before, I might be wary of saying what it was, but only if all three criteria were satisfied.
 

Matchu

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Oct 9, 2020
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Well-known how several brilliant ideas have been stolen across the centuries from hard-working amateurs, exploited by foreigner-authors. Even from memory, own archives, I recall my vision of a Gorilla Space Kingdom. or the Chest Monster Explosion Teatime/The Thingimy-jig/Extra Fenestrial On his Bicycle/Devil Brat Son of Satan/Scary Cottage Found a Chainsaw in the shed. All stolen, all now Hollywood epics in one form or another, and my life is dreadful, but I keep writing. Write in code, utilise phrases nobody understands. Great writers tell me that in their voices.
 

Paul Meccano

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possibly! However, it should be said, that to describe an idea to the point of full realisation usually takes a book. By then it's too late.:0)
 

Alan Aspie

Insta: jallepergeri
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Jul 12, 2018
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Finland and my autistic mind.
...I like to talk about my story with friends and family.. ...sharing your unfinished work. Should you worry that someone might steal your concepts/ideas?
Whom do you trust? Why? How much?

Some people steal and use everything they can. Some steal nothing.

I don't tell anything about my projects in internet. Family? No limits. Friends? Some things, but not all.

My alpha and beta readers get texts in paper, not in files.
 

Alan Aspie

Insta: jallepergeri
Joined
Jul 12, 2018
Messages
163
Location
Finland and my autistic mind.
Well-known how several brilliant ideas have been stolen across the centuries from hard-working amateurs, exploited by foreigner-authors. Even from memory, own archives, I recall my vision of a Gorilla Space Kingdom. or the Chest Monster Explosion Teatime/The Thingimy-jig/Extra Fenestrial On his Bicycle/Devil Brat Son of Satan/Scary Cottage Found a Chainsaw in the shed. All stolen, all now Hollywood epics in one form or another, and my life is dreadful, but I keep writing. Write in code, utilise phrases nobody understands. Great writers tell me that in their voices.
I like your humour.
 
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