What To Do When Your Novel Has Been Pirated by Janelle Riley

What To Do When Your Novel Has Been Pirated by Janelle RileyLet’s welcome back monthly columnist Janelle T. Riley as she shares with us “What To Do When Your Novel Has Been Pirated.” Enjoy!


One day while I was strolling on Twitter, I found a post where a writer had uploaded her manuscript for ARC reviews. (An ARC is an Advanced Readers Copy.) 

Sometime afterward, when she was uploading her novel to publish, she noticed the novel had been marked as belonging to someone other than herself.

Then, quite recently, another writer friend had the same incident happen when she uploaded her current novel that is due for release at the end of the month. 

Pirated Manuscripts? 

It seems there are some ARC services out there stealing the work of writers and selling them on another platform.

Why should anyone care? 

For the simple reason that we as writers spend hours on end creating the best work possible. (Years even.)

There are dishonest individuals out here ripping off the hard work of those who used their blood, sweat, and tears to create a beautiful manuscript.

Having someone come along and claim my manuscript as their own is wrong and quite sickening to think about. 

This is a common occurrence that happens to photographers and musicians, as well as to authors, which is why it is important to know a few precautions to take so you don’t fall victim to those who are looking to steal your work.

Safeguarding Your Work

Copyrighting your work has proven to be the most effective way of protecting your manuscript so no talentless hack can claim it as theirs. 

In fact, if someone should claim your work as their own, it would be difficult for that criminal to prove otherwise when you’re holding a certificate from the Copyright Office.

It is easy to register all work from photographs to music to manuscripts at the U.S. Copyright Office | U.S. Copyright Office

The fee is $55 to register a manuscript. It could be quite pricey especially if you are a writer who can knock out 5 novels or more during the year.

Common Misconception: Some writers think that emailing or mailing your manuscript to yourself in a form of copyright protection, but actually this action is no substitute to legal protection via the Copyright Office. More information: Copyright articles on WFZ by a literary lawyer. More on this misconception here: https://copyrightalliance.org/faqs/poor-mans-copyright/.

Another idea you as a writer can do to safeguard your work and ensure it’s protected is to verify that you trust 100% whoever you’re giving your manuscript over to.

I know this part may be a bit of a stretch as there are people out there who are looking for the next individual they can scam. 

Protect your work from being pirated.

Finding Reliable Beta and ARC Readers 

Extensive research, and carefully checking out sites of those who call themselves reputable beta readers or ARCs, can possibly weed out the ones that make you nervous. 

If you’re having doubts and are not comfortable with an editor or you don’t like how that beta reader so eagerly accepted your invitation to read your manuscript, then please trust that inner voice.

Whenever I hire an editor, beta reader, or ARC, I give an interview. 

Yes, I need to ensure I’m comfortable with the individual I’m handing the item I worked so hard for their viewing. 

I want to know what methods they use, how long they’ve been doing the work, and how large is their client base. 

If my questions aren’t answered enough to make me feel comfortable sending my manuscript, then they’re not getting the work.

Think of it like this: 

Would you give your newborn over to a “childcare worker” without first doing a background check? 

Would you send your child outside to ride their bike without some protection so they don’t become hurt? 

You should have this same way of thinking when it comes to your manuscript.

Being a writer is a demanding job. Worrying about if someone is lurking around the corner to pirate your work shouldn’t add more stress.


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Janelle RileyJanelle lives in Louisiana with her husband, their three children, and Hamilton their half lab half Rottweiler. Along with writing, she’s a professional photographer and enjoys being outdoors photographing people and nature. When not writing or photographing, she enjoys traveling, drawing, listening to music, and cooking. 

Janelle’s on Twitter @janelletriley1 and Instagram @tejay_riley5








Course: How to get book reviews: https://school.bethbarany.com/courses/enrolled/53203

Course: How to find critique partners: https://school.bethbarany.com/p/how-to-find-critique-partners 

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