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Another common problem....

Dear Tollboothers,


I just finished a revision of my newest Work-in-Progress. I sent it to two editors, feeling good, until I read Publisher’s Lunch. I don’t believe it, but my very favorite author just announced the release of a novel with the exact same theme. I am devastated! 


Even if my book is acquired, I’m going to look like I got my idea from her. Should I ask for the submission back and wait a while before sending it out? Or just toss it?


Looking like a copy cat


Dear Copy Cat,


Stop worrying! Do not toss your book! Your story may have some similar themes, but it will not be the same book. It will not have the same character or story line or antagonist or structure. It is original. Besides, even if it is acquired today, it won’t come out for a long time. No one will accuse you of plagiarism.


It happens all the time. 

Among my writer friends, we talk about this phenomena occasionally:  Ideas fly in the air. 


Trends happen. We are all affected by the same news reports, magazines, art, and music.  Many of us are adults of a certain age who grew up watching the same shows, reading the same books, loving the same movies.  We share a lot of perspective!

Now I agree—it is nerve wracking to hear that another author—established or not—is tackling the same material, but that just means it is pertinent. You have to not worry about this.  There is always room for another book with a similar theme when it is well written!   Maybe you can even team up when it is time to do some marketing!

One thought: maybe you should stop reading Pub Lunch for a little while, at least until you've received some feedback.  Stop worrying about what others are writing.  It is not always helpful to know what is going on every minute.  Especially, since it doesn't change the fact that you have finished your book and sent it out!


Really, you should be celebrating. 

You finished your draft and sent it out. What an accomplishment!  Congratulations!  Eat Chocolate!

And let me know when you have sold that story!

Keep writing!

The advice lady (I couldn't find a cuter, younger one...oh well....)



Writers:  Got your own copy cat story? Or more advice? Write in. It’s another rainy day, and we would love to hear from you.


 Til Tomorrow,








( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 8th, 2009 04:19 pm (UTC)
Not a copy cat story exactly, but ... when I started writing my current book (Bones of Faerie), I was worried about it, because I was pretty sure no one was reading about faeries anymore ... and, worse, it was a post-apocalyptic book, and the cold war was over, and I was sure no one would want to read about that.

And then, by the time I finished it and it sold and was published--post-apocalyptic books and faerie books were all over the place. Ideas fly in the air, indeed. I sometimes wonder whether there's something in the water, myself. :-)

And from a marketing perspective, it's not a bad thing when, through a bit of serendipity, your book turns out to have surface similarities to other books out there ...
Jul. 8th, 2009 04:27 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Janni!

Great story! So true and really, so funny. No one will ever say that "no one is reading about faeries anymore!"

I'm including a link to your website:


Find out about more about Bones of Faerie there!

Jul. 8th, 2009 06:57 pm (UTC)
Well, they may be saying it again one day, but right now it's hard to believe fairies ever seemed "finished." :-) (But if I'd tried to write a fairy book because I saw lots of other fairy books out there, I have a suspicion I would have been way too late ...) (On the other hand, I've been hearing the vampire thing was past for at least 20 years now, so maybe some things do hang around!)

And hey, thanks for the link. :-)
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )