Ep 157 Do I need to visit a place I write about? Has someone stolen my work?

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podcast-artworkIn this minisode of So you want to be a writer: Do I need to visit a place I write about? Has someone stolen my work?

Got a question for Val and Al? Ask at podcast [at] writerscentre [dot] com [dot] au

Click play to listen to the podcast or find it on iTunes here. If you don’t use iTunes you can get the feed here, or listen to us on Stitcher radio.

Review of the Week
From David:

Every single time I listen, I’m happy I found this podcast. Valerie and Allison have motivated me to keep writing, educated me about the publishing industry and kept me entertained for quite a few months now. I’ll readily confess that I do love the ‘word of the week’, and have no problem being a ‘word nerd.’ The most important thing Val & Al have taught me is that one’s talent needs to be honed and practised, like any craft. Nobody needs to write perfect prose in their first draft to be a writer. We just need to do the work. Thanks ladies for helping me to stay confident and brave enough to share my work (both content and fiction) with the world.

Thanks, David!

Listener Questions

Kaye asks:

Hi Val and Al,

Love the podcast!

I have written around 40,000 words towards the first draft of a YA novel which is set partly in Melbourne and partly in Oxford, UK.

I’m also in the research stage of a new idea for another novel, which is set almost entirely in London across two different time periods.

So far, my research has all been online and whatever I can find in libraries here in Sydney, but I’m fast running out of resources and am wondering if you think a research trip is essential?

My feeling is it would not only give me more sources of information than I can find here, but would likely give a richer and more realistic feel to my writing, however (as my husband points out!) it is a big financial investment to make for something that, let’s be honest, might never be published.

Is being on-the-ground and immersing yourself in a place necessary?

Is there another alternative I haven’t considered?

Thanks!

Anon asks:

Hi Val and Al,

Your podcasts make me smile and are always good for a belly laugh or two throughout the work day. I’m not a full-time author yet, so I’m having to redact legal documents all day long while daydreaming that my debut novel will somehow skyrocket out of obscurity to the top of the bestseller lists so I can devote more time to book two of this trilogy, as well as plan other ides. Believe you me, I’ve recently worked alongside a few published authors who are enduring the same drudgery I am.

Like the woman whose letter you read aloud during today’s podcast, I too, feel as though I’ve been “scooped”, this time by a bestselling author. And like her, this has bothered me since the moment I discovered the situation last July.

I’ll say in advance that I do not see any legal recourse, but I just wanted to get this off my chest to hear what the two of you have to say about it.

In December 2013, I began drafting my spy thriller and I finished a first draft six months later, which I registered with the copyright office. Against my better judgment, I had queried several agents, including a junior agent at one agency whose senior agent represents a bestselling author—and got rejected. A year later after several revisions, I resubmitted the query to the same agent and got rejected–again.

Last spring, after I had workshopped and edited the work and incorporated several beta reader comments, I felt ready to post it to amazon. So I had a graphic artist on fiverr.com create a cover for the kindle ebook version. Finally, at the end of July, I uploaded the book on amazon.com. When I did a search to make sure my upload took, I saw a pre-order listing of a book with my same title by the same bestselling author. Interestingly, this book was also marketed as a spy thriller and what do you know, one of the main characters in her book shares the same first name with my protagonist! Honestly, as a clueless American father, I had never heard of this author before, but when I asked by bookworm daughter about it, she confirmed that this author was the same one who wrote a successful YA series that in turn became successful movies. I was mortified. I had to be talked down off a ledge for a week. I felt violated—not necessarily by the author—but rather by the agent. It was as if this agent leafed through the agency’s slush pile and floated the suggestion to the author over a lovely lunch in New York!

Is this common practice in the business? To undercut aspiring authors by stealing their ideas in hope that the author gets intimidated and decides not to publish? It seems very diabolical and underhanded to me, and I am angry that I cannot do anything about it. It was my hope that my book could become a movie someday, but as it stands, everything this bestselling author writes ends up becoming a movie.

The other side of it is that I live in fear that this bestselling author’s “people” will come after me with potential law suit threats. Should I worry?

I guess I just need to hear from you how I should look at this situation so I can move on to other projects.

Sincerely,

Frustrated and Crushed

After asking whether he read it:
Honestly, I tried to read it. I really tried, but for one, I couldn’t devote the time to it, and what I did read was bogged down by excruciatingly detailed (and unnecessary) description. I did read the synopsis of the book from various reviews, so I know what it’s about. I don’t remember the last name of the male protagonist character, except that the first name is “Daniel”.

No, the plot is different. The female protagonists in both books, however, happen to share the same profession. One lives the other dies (in mine).

Val and Al answer these questions in this minisode. We hope you find this useful!

If you have a question, email us at: podcast [at] writerscentre [dot] com [dot] au

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@altait

@valeriekhoo

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podcast at writerscentre.com.au

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