I know young authors often worry about copyright infringement and ask, “but what if someone steals my book/idea/title/characters?”
At some point I used to worry about this too, but I don’t anymore. With some maturity, some experience and some confidence, I am no longer concerned someone will snatch my brilliant plot and turn it into a bestseller series and a blockbuster movie and I’ll be left bitter and frustrated for not protecting my rights better.
1 1. Humility, humility, humility. There are so many great books and talented authors out there. So many fantastic stories are online, just begging for readers. The chances someone will zero in on my specific plot/story and steal them are basically nil. I mean, yes, I hope I have enough talent to pursue writing as a potentially profitable venue, and I am striving to improve, but it’s not like I’m the female version of Stephen King. Many, many writers out there are a lot more talented than I am.
2 2. I have more ideas for potentially brilliant plots and sketches of engaging characters than I can develop in a lifetime, and the same is generally true for any moderately talented author. Gifted authors will have too many of their own ideas to choose from to care about mine. And if an idea is taken? Why, I'll just go with another one.
3 3. Yours (and everyone’s) unique voice: few plots are truly original. It’s a lot more about execution than about the general idea, so unless someone actually steals my whole book and publishes it as their own (which would be pretty easy to prove), I don’t care. Consider books about World War II, an inexhaustible theme. There are so many stories about the Russian village boy gone off to join the guerilla war against the Germans, or the Jewish girl hiding in a Christian home under a false identity. It isn’t an original story but, with a gifted delivery, it will never grow old. People can copy your ideas, but they can never copy your unique voice and the details and sub-plots and characters that make a book truly worth reading.
Imagine J.K. Rowling telling someone about her book idea sometime back in 1991, and this someone (without enough creativity to think of their own plot) says, “hey, I like this. I think I’ll sit down and write a book about a public school for wizards.” Most likely he’d have written something mediocre nobody would read. J.K. Rowling, with her brilliant realistic twists, wealth of detail and unique humor, created the work of a genius.