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Why Document Protection? A Struggling Writer’s Story

As a writer, blogging is a part of what I do, but it is not the sum total of my professional identity. At various times of my life and career I have toiled at the keyboard to sell magazine articles, worked as a copywriter, ghosted for business executives, managed publications, been a public relations flack and even stepped in to try and teach a class of high schoolers how to think critically and commit their thoughts to paper.

Like most writers I have endured highs and lows in my chosen profession and persevere with optimism because I harbor ambitions to one day make it big. A few years ago I thought I was on the cusp of that amorphous goal with a treatment for a television project that was being shopped around by a well-regarded producer, but we weren’t able to close any deals. And for a while now (longer than I care to admit) I have been writing a novel that I am confident has great potential—even if I have far less confidence in my own.

I relate this because, as I talk with other writers who are similarly situated, I find that there are anxieties common to our kind. Among them are the concerns related to protecting our ideas.

As I read the story of Quentin Tarantino’s leaked script and spun that into Tuesday’s blog post, that particular anxiety hit me again.

You see, for any writer who has ever emailed a story pitch or shared a manuscript, there’s a rush of adrenaline for the possibility of a sale; that the editor or producer who replies will say “yes” and you’ll soon have your coveted byline or move a project forward. But there’s also a foreboding that lurks in the shadows that as soon as you hit the go button, you’ve lost control of that idea. That the editor or producer who receives your query may be less than scrupulous and, if your idea is a winner, may simply decide to abscond with it or share it with a collaborator.

When I became part of the HoGo team last year and became familiar with the product, I reached a moment of epiphany when I realized that this document protection service could help solve that nagging sense of dread.

I know that my words are granted copyright protection as soon as I write them, but the concepts themselves are difficult to protect and, for a guy with more lint than coin in his pockets, all the more so. And while no method is totally foolproof, taking the extra step to convert your treatment or sample chapter into a PDF and encrypting before shopping it is prudent. A hungry agent or interested publisher should understand your desire to secure an unpublished work.

Why secure and share PDFs?  It’s not wise to share unpublished content in Word document format until you have a trusted buyer; it could very well make the difference in safeguarding that big idea. And for the recipient, HoGo protection is seamless, so there’s no hassle to the added security apart from constraints associated with the assigned permissions, such as printing or sharing.

After all, if it could happen to one of Hollywood’s biggest names, it could certainly happen to you—or me.

(Buy me a beer and I’ll tell you the story of how a segment eerily similar to my Martin Luther King Jr. Day bit ran on a very popular television show mere days after one of its producers had sniffed around the ezine where it appeared.)

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