How Writers Can Protect Their Work

Releasing a book into the world is an incredible achievement, but it also comes with an element of risk. My guest today, Cassie Phillips, is sharing how writers can minimise that risk. All yours, Cassie.

Work hard and you’ll be rewarded. It’s a mantra many of us live by and recognize. It helps motivate us to go just a little bit further and push for that extra mile. Writers are no exception; a high quality book can become a bestseller that propels the author’s career into the sky. Our work is thus sacred and must be protected.

Unfortunately, not everyone subscribes to the idea of working hard. Instead, there are those who seek to profit from others’ effort and misfortune. Thieves and plagiarists are all too happy to capitalize on your intellectual property if it isn’t safeguarded. Additionally, hackers and other e-criminals seek to damage your devices or compromise your accounts, resulting in a loss of time and productivity.

Yet you can still take action to defend yourself! Rather than wait around hoping and praying you won’t become the victim of these schemers, take preventative measures to secure your future. Here are some ways to protect your work:


Device Security: Tools of the Trade

The days of writing your manuscript on a large book with a pen or pencil are gone. There are probably still a few holdouts, but most writers are doing their work on the computer now. It’s cleaner, easier to correct and there’s considerably less risk of losing your work to the elements.

Now the main risk usually relates to other people. Using your PC, laptop, tablet, etc. means connecting to the internet. The internet is a grand place for resources and entertainment, but it is also rife with malware, scams and data thieves. To protect yourself from these risks, you’ll want to start with some security software.

Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) can secure your connection against outside forces because it encrypts your internet, effectively preventing the theft of information being sent over unsecure networks (such as public WiFi). There are a few other benefits too, such as anonymity and access to geo-restricted websites. For some more information and some recommendations, you will want to out this VPN review.

Next up is the most well-known form of defense against malware, the online security suite. Most users have some kind of protection installed on their PC, but not everyone installs a tool on their mobile devices. Fortunately, good software can be acquired without much trouble. Avast, AVG, and Panda all offer both free and commercial versions of their app.


Accounts and Storage

Another important thing to consider in protecting your work is guaranteeing you’ll never lose the only available copy. Even after you’ve actually submitted work for publishing, keeping only a single copy is dangerous and reckless. A single storm, spilled coffee, or other physical failure could completely destroy your precious work.

Luckily, most any type of work can now be saved online. By using cloud storage services such as Google Drive and Dropbox, you can keep online copies of your work that are accessible from anywhere and safe from local destruction.

However, just storing your data online isn’t necessarily foolproof. These storage services are accessed with an account and password, both of which, if compromised, can lead to a mixture of identity theft and loss of personal property. Avoiding this is paramount to backing up your work.

Login details should be distinct for every account you have. It can sometimes be unavoidable to re-use usernames (especially if the login is your email address), but you should always use different passwords. Create a strong, distinct password for each account and change it regularly.

Using a service such as LastPass can make it easier to remember your login details because it remembers and encrypts your usernames and passwords, meaning you’ll only need a single master password. This information is all stored locally, so even if LastPass were to have a data breach, you wouldn’t suffer. They also allow the use of two-factor authentication.

Two-factor authentication is the growing standard in account access because it requires you to not only enter your permanent password, but to provide a temporary password (usually generated by a second device). Even if your password is stolen, the thief still can’t get access because they don’t have your temporary password.


Copyrights and Intellectual Property

Anything you write is technically your intellectual property. Whether you’re posting it on a blog, scrawling it on some notes, or preparing your work to go before a publisher, all of that information belongs to you.

Yet you do need to be careful where you put your work. If you’re planning to publish a novel and much of that novel is already something people can see on your blog or website, don’t expect a big publisher to pick it up. Book publishers usually are interested in exclusivity and want people to pay for your work.

If you’re self-publishing, it’s a totally different matter. Once your work is out there, especially if it’s worth its salt, you’ll find people copying and posting it without your permission. Also keep in mind that until your work is published, only the exact copy is protected; loose ideas about your story can still be stolen without much consequence. You will likely want to familiarize yourself with copyright laws.


Pick Your Battles

If and when you finally publish something successfully, it can be tempting to chase after anyone who uses your work without your permission. Don’t burn yourself out. Writing is only a small part of the battle for success. Remember that you have thousands, if not millions of competitors out there. Selling your work is the hardest part.

In fact, publicity is the most expensive part of your job. There is a faint silver lining that your work is getting shared with new readers. You’re missing a sale, but now your work is reaching a broader audience. Keep in mind that advertising is expensive and very time consuming.

Obviously, if someone decides to try to publish, product and market your product under a different name without your consent, then you may want to consider a lawsuit. The rest of the time it’s probably best to consider it free marketing.

Want to read more articles from knowledgeable guests? Pop on over to the Guest Writerologist archives and explore.