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I just finished my first magazine assignment and am getting ready to send it to the editor. Should I copyright it before I send it out? I just don't want anyone to steal my work.
A: Dear Mae,
Don't worry that someone will steal your work. As a writer, I understand your concern to protect your work, but by and large, as soon as an editor sees any kind of copyright notice on a manuscript, she immediately views the author as an amateur, and may choose not to buy the article on that basis alone.
Then of course, you must consider that the publication to which you are sending your article has a reputation to protect. They don't want to become known in the industry as a publication that steals work.
You have your name on your work. Copyright law is written so that at the moment you create a work, copyright law protects it. You sign your name to it and the law assigns that protection to you.
Rest easy. Do not copyright your article. Get it into the editor on time and show her the professional you are. Then work on getting future assignments.
Q: Dear Joan,
I've been writing for a few years and have sold a few articles to local newspapers and magazines. In the past few weeks I have found a writers group on the other side of town. I went to their meeting but it seems that they're all real new writers. I don't see an advantage to me to join this group, but my husband says I should. What would you do?
A: Dear Jenny,
Your husband is right. You should join. Writing is such a solitary profession that you should take advantage of any opportunity to meet and share information with other writers. Just because you have a little experience under your belt, doesn't mean that you can't learn anything from these fledgling writers.
Then of course there is the fact that because you are already a selling author, you can perhaps teach these new writers a few lessons. Remember, none of us ever succeeds alone. I'll bet you that somewhere along the line you had someone you could ask for advice. I mean look here, you're asking me a question. Wouldn't it be nice if you could become a kind of "godmother" to this group and nurture some new talent? Think of it as an opportunity to do some good, advance your own career, and maybe show someone else to publication.
Network. Network. Network.
And keep writing,
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