Beta Reader Group discussion

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Writing Advice & Discussion > Safe to send .doc to beta readers?

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message 1: by Ana (new)

Ana | 41 comments Hi all,

Interested in your thoughts on sending your MS as a .dc to beta readers. Obviously this is easiest for their comments, but I also feel it's the easiest way to let someone rip off your work.

Thoughts?


message 2: by Annette (new)

Annette Abernathy | 158 comments I understand how you feel, but I had mine copyrighted and the email counts as an official copyright. So if you keep the emails and have it copyrighted if they do steal your story then you can fight them. The writers of the Matrix trilogy had to pay the woman they ripped off multi millions, like in the hundreds because she had the copyright.

Still there are cheats so just keep all the emails and use reputable betas.


message 3: by Ana (new)

Ana | 41 comments Annette wrote: "I understand how you feel, but I had mine copyrighted and the email counts as an official copyright. So if you keep the emails and have it copyrighted if they do steal your story then you can fight..."

Thanks Annette! For clarification, what do you mean you had yours "copyrighted"? Thanks!


message 4: by Annette (new)

Annette Abernathy | 158 comments I went to the copyright webpage and had my book copyrighted, and a few months later they sent me the official paperwork.

http://www.copyright.gov/


message 5: by Nathan (new)

Nathan Wall (goodreadscomnathanwall) | 46 comments I am a Beta/Developmental editor and I charge. With that I have the client sign a contract. Within that contract it specifies they're the owner of everything and that I won't steal it. I've never had a problem with anyone wanting to send me a word doc.

As well, other than one reader, all my best BETA readers have been paid and contracted. Not only are you getting better feedback, you're actually getting feedback. Everything is more on the up and up.

Lesson is pay and get a contract. Disperse at your own risk otherwise


message 6: by J.R. (new)

J.R. | 6 comments Just to be clear, Annette had her copyright registered - the copyright is always there on work you've done. A Word .doc doesn't make any difference compared to any other document type for people making copies or converting them to other forms, so do whatever makes things easy on you and your partner.


message 7: by Pam (new)

Pam Baddeley | 14 comments Just for info for any UK readers, there is no UK equivalent to the US copyright office; you just have copyright in anything you've written. People who are extra concerned about this sometimes send a hardcopy to themselves through the post and keep it unsealed.

There are sites that come up when you google UK copyright law, but they are all business trying to get money from people - as the government website on UK Copyright Law says, you have copyright automatically when you create a work.


message 8: by Zara (new)

Zara Deyn | 45 comments Hi Pam,
Thanks for the UK info.
If only I had something worth stealing!

Kindest


message 9: by V.L. (last edited Mar 10, 2016 11:57AM) (new)

V.L. Cooke | 16 comments I've signed NDA's before and I keep all emails and copies of what is sent to me, along with what I send back, to keep me honest. I think most beta readers are honest, and just want to help. If you find that one gives you a bad vibe making you not trust them, then I wouldn't use them. Copyrighting your work is always smart, just in case.


message 10: by Martin (new)

Martin Rinehart Ana wrote: "Hi all,

Interested in your thoughts on sending your MS as a .dc to beta readers. Obviously this is easiest for their comments, but I also feel it's the easiest way to let someone rip off your work..."


Why .DOC? (Or any MSFT-proprietary format?) .PDFs are just as good, fine for comments and work across most computers. Plus they're at least a little more trouble to steal.


message 11: by Sada (new)

Sada DiSena | 7 comments My MS is in .pdf with a survey at the end for them to click on and answer questions. .pdf is the best way to go I feel. Still working out the bugs.


message 12: by Kathy (last edited Jun 16, 2016 06:00AM) (new)

Kathy Joy | 27 comments Ana wrote: "Hi all,

Interested in your thoughts on sending your MS as a .dc to beta readers. Obviously this is easiest for their comments, but I also feel it's the easiest way to let someone rip off your work..."


If you are worried, you can protect the document. I always ask that documents are sent as a .doc and if the author wants to protect it that they allow comments. I mean you're sending them your work - if they really wanted to steal your work it doesn't matter how you format it to be honest. Even if you gave them a document where they couldn't even copy and paste it, nothing is stopping them from copying it by hand.

Just keep hold of any proof such as the email you sent them with it on, plus all the manuscripts you have will have time and date stamps and they can easily be tracked so they predate yours.

Also when selecting a beta reader try and research them - ask for examples of their feedback, or ask around and see if anyone is familiar with them.

While you could send a PDF with specific boxes for feedback or anything like that, it doesn't prevent theft. It also closes the door to more open feedback - they might notice something that is not in your questions.

Alternatively you could draw up a little 'contract' which you get them to sign digitally saying the acknowledge receipt of your work and that they understand it is your intellectual property and if they are found to pass that work off as their own, they can and will be taken to court (There is a way to make it so the signature will capture what computer did it which can be traced back to them so they can't say 'oh they signed that not me') You will also have the email showing you sent them it and that they sent it back).

It is a worry sending off something you have worked on but theft if not as widespread as it seems (well as far as I'm aware anyway).

Long story short, the easier you make it for your beta, the quicker they can get the feedback to you, but research your beta thoroughly and keep as much evidence as you can (or potentially just copyright your work before sending it - it's fairly cheap to do) except if you're in the UK in which case your email alone is evidence enough to prove copyright.


message 13: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Joy | 27 comments Martin wrote: "Ana wrote: "Hi all,

Interested in your thoughts on sending your MS as a .dc to beta readers. Obviously this is easiest for their comments, but I also feel it's the easiest way to let someone rip o..."


'Why .DOC? (Or any MSFT-proprietary format?) .PDFs are just as good, fine for comments and work across most computers. Plus they're at least a little more trouble to steal.'

I cannot get any PDF's to allow me to leave comments - there's no option for it. Am I missing something? This is why I always ask for it in .doc format.


message 14: by Martin (new)

Martin Rinehart In a PDF, highlight some text. Right click. Add note. Type your comment.

The text you highlighted turns a bright color, alerting the person to whom you send the PDF.


message 15: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Joy | 27 comments Kathy wrote: "Martin wrote: "Ana wrote: "Hi all,

Interested in your thoughts on sending your MS as a .dc to beta readers. Obviously this is easiest for their comments, but I also feel it's the easiest way to le..."


It gives me no other option except to copy selected. No comment option. I use Sumatra though because there are problems to adobe one and I have been advised not to use it by my tech support husband (something about security problems or something ... I'm relatively tech savvy but I don't remember exactly what he said but her said it it was a major issue so I don't use adobe).


message 16: by Martin (new)

Martin Rinehart I see, Kathy.

I use Adobe Acrobat Reader DC, latest version. (The free one.) And Avast (also the free one) on guard duty. I know there are other Adobe issues (Flash), but I'm not familiar with Reader issues.


message 17: by Sandy (new)

Sandy Frediani Ana wrote: "Hi all,

Interested in your thoughts on sending your MS as a .dc to beta readers. Obviously this is easiest for their comments, but I also feel it's the easiest way to let someone rip off your work..."


If someone wants to steal your work badly enough, they'll find a way to do so. Fortunately, those seem to be in the minority, although I'm sure it doesn't feel that way if you've been ripped off. Keep in mind though, even major authors have things stolen. I can't recall the details, but I do remember reading about a couple of well-known, well-published romance authors who were plagiarized. The thing is, if you're paranoid about it no one will ever see your work. Solutions - do the best you can at record keeping, keeping dated copies (physical and/or electronic), keep working files (those ones where you work out idea). I keep what I call "master files." They're the original story files. I like to keep each chapter in a separate file and each chapter is copyright dated. It means in 2016, I can pull up one of the first chapters and see that I wrote it in 1999. Obviously things change between then and now, but that's my "master file."
Another thing you can do is Google your character names and/or lines from your manuscript and see what comes up. If something's lifted...it'll show.


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