Protect your Self-published Writing from Online Theft

Hey writers, do you hesitate to release your self-published writing because you’re afraid the content could be stolen? I hate to say your fear is well founded but it happens to so many writers these days.

Wait, that’s not what you wanted to hear, right? You want to hear that trolls and criminals have been sent to idiot island where there’s no internet access and everyone can live happily ever after, right?

Sadly, that’s not the case. But, I’m here to assure you that your self-published writing can be protected. After reading this article you’ll be in the know about how to put the smack-down on those nasty thieves and come out the other side smiling because your work is finally seeing the light of day!

DMCA takedown notice: If you share your work, fiction or non-fiction, on a blog, there’s a possibility it could be swiped and re-posted. I’ve had this happen but knew just what to do about it and the problem was solved swiftly. DMCA stands for Digital Millennium Copyright Act and is something every writer should know about. A DMCA notice is sent to the host of the site with the copyright-infringed material in order to have it removed. When I sent my notices, not only was my copyrighted work taken down, the entire site was brought down both times! Most of what they had on their sites was ripped off material from other writers and the DMCA meant the site host had to investigate and take proper action.

Copyright office of the United States: As a self-published writer living and releasing work in the good old U.S. of A. I take full advantage of submitting my work to For fiction works it costs $35 to upload a deposit (your book). You’ll have a much easier time in court if you already applied for legally binding copyright status. Yes, your copyright is yours the moment you put “pen to paper” but that fact will be much easier to prove when you have a big government entity standing behind you with the proof.

Creative Commons licenses: There’s a fine line between being ripped off and having someone share your work in today’s world. If someone copies your work then pastes on their own blog but links back to your site, there’s not much you can do. Most bloggers and writers would be fine with that type of share because the link back is a good thing. But here’s the rub. Google doesn’t like the exact same content in multiple places. When a site gets pinged to be removed from Google indexing, 9 times out of 10 it will be your website! Uncool. Tell people how much they’re allowed to share by placing a CC on your site. Then, if they go outside the parameters of the license you provide, loop back to that DMCA.

So how can you find out if your work has been swiped?

I do the following things every time I release any kind of self-published writing:

1. Set up a Google alert. If the work in question is a blog I generally set up 2 alerts – one on the title, another on the keyword I built the post around. For books, I set one on the title. It can get cumbersome to have all those alerts show up in email, but I’d rather scroll for ten seconds every day to make sure nobody is trying to steal and re-publish my work as their own than have someone else profiting off of my hard work!

2. Share the link everywhere. This might sound strange but it works. The more of your networks and followers who see the content of your self-published writing, the more who could recognize it if it shows up somewhere else. When your “street team” sees the stolen work, they’ll let you know and you can get with the takedown.

3. Consider launching an LLC. When I first started blogging it was just me and my thoughts. Intellectual property, sure, but I didn’t consider it self-published writing (even though it is!). Once I started writing books I knew I wanted protection from weird people who will stop at nothing to take down a little old indie author like me. So I contacted an intellectual property attorney and created my LLC. The LLC covers my micro-press (I self-publish under my own house, Writesy Press) and all my DBAs (Copywrite That for freelancing, Jenn Flynn-Shon for bloggers, etc.).

Protecting your self-published writing can be a bit of work for those of us running a business all on our own, but in the end it is so worth the extra effort just knowing our words are protected. Now, put fear aside, get out there and get publishing!

Have you ever been robbed without proper credit? How did you fix it? Share in the comments!

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