If you came up with an awesome concept, an invention that would earn you accolades, a spot on Shark Tank and possibly millions from sales would you just hand out the blueprints to anyone in exchange for a little free feedback? Wouldn’t you patent your idea first, or at the very least have the other person sign some legal agreement? I would. So why would you let just anyone beta read your novel? And why would you do it without written protection?
Because you didn’t know better…well now you do.
There are so many awful stories out there about beta readers outright stealing stories with little recourse. At least bloggers have the work posted online as proof of copyright. But betas are basically handed material and asked “pretty please” to handle with discretion. You could sue them and I hope you do; however, it is costly and if your book hasn’t published or made any money, I bet you don’t have tens of thousands of dollars to litigate an I.P. suit. I mean it’s worth it…but is it? Not when you could have protected yourself outright.
So a word to the wise, if you are going to let a non-professional read your book, make them sign a waiver beforehand. Just an acknowledgement that the work they are reading is yours and any likeness is and will be considered theft of intellectual property within a specified amount of time. This way, you can publish before any harm is done.
One way to set this up is through a blog site. Create a blog dedicated to your book, or you as a writer. You can even make it private so you don’t have to post anything, only granting access to beta readers via an email. (More on blogging for sales in future posts). Put a terms of service up, which includes your copyright (there are great plugins like Digiprove that will store this information for you). Then have them fill out a form (you can get these as plugin’s as well); essentially it is an application. In it they agree to your terms and privacy.
Voila! You now have proof that they applied and agreed to read your work…which is now digitally protected.
This is not an absolute defense against plagiarism, but it will offer swifter recourse should you require it. And even though it seems like a headache, it is worth not having some thief steal your hard work.
This article was originally featured on my blog at [fancy_link color=”red” link=”http://saramoconnor.com”]saramoconnor.com[/fancy_link]
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