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You can't just be a songwriter Dynamics Processors (HW)
Old 2nd August 2014
  #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AldenW View Post
Murray, I think you overestimate how much things have changed. In the end, a great song is what counts. The songwriters I write with in Nashville still get up every morning with coffee and a guitar to pen a great song. Yes, there are new skill-sets that can help open doors. I've done a decent amount of top-lining over pop tracks, which is a (relatively) new way of writing.
Great! Where are all these great songs to be found?!! I must suck at finding them.


Quote:
Originally Posted by AldenW View Post
And creegstor, "Music being made, in essence, by people who can't actually write a "real" song" doesn't make it onto the radio. Again, Murray keeps using Kara Dioguardi as an example, and she is an incredibly skilled melody writer and lyricist. To denounce these writers as not 'real' just because they're good at collaborating with producers and write in a certain genre is myopic and, quite frankly, laughable if you've interacted with any of them. That level of success doesn't come easily.

I never mentioned Kara Dioguardi. She's definitely a pro-level writer, which isn't saying an awful lot in 2014 but she definitely is and I wouldn't argue that. But I have never heard anything from her to make me think she's "incredibly skilled". I'm not saying she doesn't have that material but I haven't heard it if she does.

I'm the first person to decry the notion that you have to be a master musician/theorist or anything else to be a great writer, but there is a balance to be had. When you get to the point where many people writing don't really have much musicality, where the people making the music portion are glorified programmers/engineers with little understanding of harmonic/melodic development and are stapling bits of ideas together with no clue of actual song development. When that's the norm, yes, you have a problem. And you have a lot of ****ty music.

Anyway give me your top 5 Kara Dioguardi songs so I can be educated...
Old 2nd August 2014
  #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AldenW View Post

And creegstor, "Music being made, in essence, by people who can't actually write a "real" song" doesn't make it onto the radio. Again, Murray keeps using Kara Dioguardi as an example, and she is an incredibly skilled melody writer and lyricist. To denounce these writers as not 'real' just because they're good at collaborating with producers and write in a certain genre is myopic and, quite frankly, laughable if you've interacted with any of them. That level of success doesn't come easily.
I didn't bring her up, someone else did.

I know her from TV but really have no idea what songs she's written.

She's successful, and she may be "real" and talented in her field or genre or whatever, but she apparently needs a producer to write songs. Not saying it's not real. Just pointing out the difference.
Old 2nd August 2014
  #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Murray View Post
My premise is the songwriter is dead?

I'm basically talking about the difference between "presenting" a demo in a simple unadorned way versus producing it to the degree that it sounds finished.

Many people feel a song shows it's worth when performed simply, without any bells and whistles. A good song doesn't need a beat, or an awesome singer, and so on. A bad production can ruin a good song. A good production can make a bad song seem a lot better than it is.

I agree! If it doesn't stand the acoustic guitar or piano test, the song is a waste of time! (unless its a catchy club idea, which is a different approach entirely).

If someone says "it needs this in production to be right" then I don't touch it! The song itself has to be amazing, and should not need a beat to show its worth. It shouldn't even need a harmony to show its worth!

Again, I think you're grossly underestimating the amount of ideas that get started on guitar or piano. That's common, even in the pop world. I had an EDM feature singer show up with an acoustic guitar a few weeks ago, that's how they like to write their songs.

A song does need a good singer though!! One that can at least get the idea across. A bad singer can definitely mask a great song, even to trained ears.
Old 3rd August 2014
  #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newguy1 View Post

Again, I think you're grossly underestimating the amount of ideas that get started on guitar or piano. That's common, even in the pop world. I had an EDM feature singer show up with an acoustic guitar a few weeks ago, that's how they like to write their songs.

A song does need a good singer though!! One that can at least get the idea across. A bad singer can definitely mask a great song, even to trained ears.
I'm not saying songs don't ever "get started" on guitar and piano, although that used to be the only way to write a song, and now many people start with a beat in a DAW.

I'm talking about having to produce it up. Needing to hire a producer to help finish the song to the point where they too are "songwriters", or needing to learn technology and production and mixing, simply to make one's song "presentable".

Also, I said "awesome" singer. Not talking about a bad singer. Obviously no one wants to make a demo that is simply bad.

Just like the click may not be such a healthy idea for music and musicians, I'm not sure this system is good for songs and songwriters.

It's like a scriptwriter having to make the entire movie just to present the script.
Old 3rd August 2014
  #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by creegstor View Post
The method of working in and of itself is not a terrible thing. But the fact that it has become a defacto standard is downright awful for music. It has led to inane "beat with top line/hook methodologies ad-nauseum. Music being made, in essence, by people who can't actually write a "real" song.
Yes, exactly. I think that is one of the unfortunate outcomes.
Old 3rd August 2014
  #36
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Herr Weiss's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Murray View Post
Yes, exactly. I think that is one of the unfortunate outcomes.


In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.
-Greek Proverb
Old 3rd August 2014
  #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Herr Weiss View Post


In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.
-Greek Proverb
Old 3rd August 2014
  #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Murray View Post
I'm talking about having to produce it up. Needing to hire a producer to help finish the song to the point where they too are "songwriters", or needing to learn technology and production and mixing, simply to make one's song "presentable".
I still don't know at what point in time a songwriter didn't need either additional skills or collaborators in order to get their ideas cut by artists they didn't already have a relationship with. When did presentation never matter???

Again, you can pitch piano and guitar tracks to producers all day long. If you have a publishing deal, they'll do it for you (for songs they believe in). Many songwriters use their iPhones, its that freaking simple if you have the ability to sing yourself while strumming basic chords!! If you want to just write songs and lay down simple demos, there's a clear avenue for you.

I agree though, there's a lot of power in being the producer these days. The producer has always been 100% necessary in making a song a reality, but yes they're much more involved in the creative phases of song-making these days, and are often songwriters themselves. To many many people, an interest in songs and songwriting leads very naturally to a strong interest in production. There so much more to music than the notes and words, many are attracted to it all, and those that are do indeed end up with the upper hand. They can execute on their full idea of how the song should sound and feel to the listener, so they can indeed outshine those that can't in most cases.
Old 3rd August 2014
  #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newguy1 View Post
I still don't know at what point in time a songwriter didn't need either additional skills or collaborators in order to get their ideas cut by artists they didn't already have a relationship with. When did presentation never matter???
Where did I say presentation didn't matter? It's the difference between a full blown production and just a song.

To continue with Diane Warren, what additional skills does she have?

Quote:
Again, you can pitch piano and guitar tracks to producers all day long. If you have a publishing deal, they'll do it for you (for songs they believe in). Many songwriters use their iPhones, its that freaking simple if you have the ability to sing yourself while strumming basic chords!! If you want to just write songs and lay down simple demos, there's a clear avenue for you.
If you are saying it is 100% unnecessary to have to have a demo produced beyond an iphone recording of a fully complete song written solely by a songwriter to get a publishing deal, a record deal, or a cut on an album, and this is a common occurrence, than I stand corrected.
Old 3rd August 2014
  #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Murray View Post

If you are saying it is 100% unnecessary to have to have a demo produced beyond an iphone recording of a fully complete song written solely by a songwriter to get a publishing deal, a record deal, or a cut on an album, and this is a common occurrence, than I stand corrected.

Its common among friends who work together, which is what a lot of songwriting is! There are groups of people who all work together. I'm friends with several writers and artists who all share ideas together regularly through voicenotes, and many others do among each other as well. Some lead to cuts with artists, some lead to features for an EDM act, some lead to self-releases, most just die.

To break in the door, to "get a publishing deal" or "get a record deal," you need to have a buzz about you, as always. Barry Mann had to have had some sort of buzz to get a one-on-one audition with a major publisher (unless it was an open casting or something, where they let everyone audition to find a diamond in the rough). Again, the vast majority of songwriters are artists themselves in one way or another and get discovered by releasing their music, which impacts in a significant enough way to catch people's attention. Getting your foot through the door has always been the biggest challenge.
Old 3rd August 2014
  #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newguy1 View Post
Its common among friends who work together, which is what a lot of songwriting is! There are groups of people who all work together. I'm friends with several writers and artists who all share ideas together regularly through voicenotes, and many others do among each other as well. Some lead to cuts with artists, some lead to features for an EDM act, some lead to self-releases, most just die.

To break in the door, to "get a publishing deal" or "get a record deal," to catch the attention of people to begin with, you need to have a buzz about you, as always. Barry Mann had to have had some sort of buzz to get a one-on-one audition with a major publisher (unless it was an open casting or something). Again, the vast majority songwriters are artists themselves in one way or another and get discovered by releasing their music, which impacts in a significant enough way to catch people's attention. Getting your foot through the door has always been the biggest challenge.
I'm not talking about buzzes or collaboration or any of that.

I'm talking about the songwriting (songwriting certainly doesn't have to be a collaboration, let alone a team), and the demo process and whether one needs a polished produced demo or not.
Old 3rd August 2014
  #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Murray View Post
I'm not talking about buzzes or collaboration or any of that.

I'm talking about the songwriting (songwriting certainly doesn't have to be a collaboration, let alone a team), and the demo process and whether one needs a polished produced demo or not.
Clarify, a demo for what? It depends on the purpose. Anyone outside the Roc Nation camp getting shot to pitch for Rihanna? Do what it takes to make it sound amazing!! You have 10,000 other songs to outdo. A writer kicking his four ideas of the week to his publisher? Then send voicenotes. They'll help you make the good ones happen.
Old 3rd August 2014
  #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newguy1 View Post
Clarify, a demo for what? It depends on the purpose. Anyone outside the Roc Nation camp getting shot to pitch for Rihanna? Do what it takes to make it sound amazing!! You have 10,000 other songs to outdo. A writer kicking his four ideas of the week to his publisher? Then send voicenotes. They'll help you make the good ones happen.
Okay, so it's clear that when pitching a song to an artist, one needs a polished demo, and a publisher or good connection as well, but that's beside the point (although not really).

So now how about a songwriter pitching to a publisher or to a record company. Not talking about someone who already has a deal or is kicking around ideas with friends or whatever.

Iphone?
Old 3rd August 2014
  #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newguy1 View Post
You have 10,000 other songs to outdo.

Ain't you exaggerating a bit?



HW
Old 3rd August 2014
  #45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Murray View Post
Okay, so it's clear that when pitching a song to an artist, one needs a polished demo, and a publisher or good connection as well, but that's beside the point (although not really).

So now how about a songwriter pitching to a publisher or to a record company. Not talking about someone who already has a deal or is kicking around ideas with friends or whatever.

Iphone?
Great production can't hurt you. Sometimes it can make the difference in getting your song noticed. But yes, as mentioned, you can pitch to a publishing company with a basic guitar/vox demo. Some publishers actually prefer that to a fully produced track. Know who you're pitching to. Naturally, the better your relationship with a publisher, the more flexible they're going to be on the quality of your presentation.
Old 3rd August 2014
  #46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Murray View Post
Okay, so it's clear that when pitching a song to an artist, one needs a polished demo, and a publisher or good connection as well, but that's beside the point (although not really).
Unless you have a good working relationship with the artist, then yes, it's in your best interest to present your song well.

If a publisher helped Barry Mann get a demo after hearing him perform, that's the exact same thing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Murray View Post
So now how about a songwriter pitching to a publisher or to a record company. Not talking about someone who already has a deal or is kicking around ideas with friends or whatever.

Iphone?
I already answered this. I'm saying "again" an awful lot in this circular thread. Are you reading my answers?? Quoted below:

Quote:
Originally Posted by newguy1 View Post
To break in the door, to "get a publishing deal" or "get a record deal," you need to have a buzz about you, as always. Barry Mann had to have had some sort of buzz to get a one-on-one audition with a major publisher (unless it was an open casting or something, where they let everyone audition to find a diamond in the rough). Again, the vast majority of songwriters are artists themselves in one way or another and get discovered by releasing their music, which impacts in a significant enough way to catch people's attention. Getting your foot through the door has always been the biggest challenge.
So no, no unknown in music is doing things without being an active participating musician in the world. There is no "hole up, don't collaborate ever, don't meet people, and send out iPhone demos cold to people." I feel I've done a fairly thorough job of explaining how things currently work already, no?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Herr Weiss View Post
Ain't you exaggerating a bit?
Maybe. 1000s of song get written specifically for Rihanna for every record by active songwriter though, inside and outside her camp. Maybe 3-4000 is more accurate? I don't know. .
Old 4th August 2014
  #47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newguy1 View Post



So no, no unknown in music is doing things without being an active participating musician in the world. There is no "hole up, don't collaborate ever, don't meet people, and send out iPhone demos cold to people." I feel I've done a fairly thorough job of explaining how things currently work already, no?
I don't think you are reading what I'm saying. Doing something coldly, or collaborating, or any of the things you go on about, have zero to do with it.

AldenW clearly answered the question.

If people are still doing simple old school style demos, and it's a common thing, and it works, than that's that.
Old 4th August 2014
  #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Murray View Post

Many people feel a song shows it's worth when performed simply, without any bells and whistles. A good song doesn't need a beat, or an awesome singer, and so on. A bad production can ruin a good song. A good production can make a bad song seem a lot better than it is.
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I've heard many a poor rendition on "BBC Radio 1s Live Lounge" where they have stripped back a song and it was boring and nothing to it. The only reason people like the majority is because they are already familiar with it. I've actually see it more the other way where I've heard more songs be polished turds by a good producer. They sound brilliant but the songwriters original ideas were poor.

In terms of just songwriters who are strictly just songwriters, yes there are lots, but the music that is eventually sold to the artist has already had some slight production.

There is more music than ever now and I think music has to be sold to show it is worth spending the time on this single track and that it has potential. So a little production just to get the point across is sometimes the minimum.
Classic example: Ryan Tedder - Halo (Demo For Beyonce) - YouTube

The "songwriter" is not dead, just there are more songwriters than ever and more songs that are just your standard singer-songwriter on their main instrument.

I consider myself a songwriter, but I am learning production to help sell my songs as I can hear my main idea but find it difficult to get a across without some minor production. But there is a grey line of what is production and what is actually a part of my songwriting.
Old 10th August 2014
  #49
i can speak for myself here. I've had my songs become radio hits that were simple work tapes..Meaning I simply recorded myself playing guitar and singing live into voice memo on the iPhone; and then emailed it to a producer or manager. Other cuts I have gotten have been full demos that sound like a finished record. The bottom line is how good your song is. (writing a better song than the artist/producer can write is the only way you will get an artist to record your song if you aren't writing with the artist or producer). The next important thing to remember is even if it's a simple guitar/vocal recording, the song better be killer and the simple recording better feel good.

~Clay
Old 10th August 2014
  #50
[QUOTE=Murray;10304086]Who?

There are many pro songwriters who don't produce and get major cuts. I work with them every day. More in country, less in pop; but there are those in pop as well. There are writers who only do lyrics that have careers top lining in all genres. etc etc. ~Clay
Old 11th August 2014
  #51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Murray View Post
I don't think you are reading what I'm saying. Doing something coldly, or collaborating, or any of the things you go on about, have zero to do with it.

AldenW clearly answered the question.

If people are still doing simple old school style demos, and it's a common thing, and it works, than that's that.
The thing with the music industry nowadays is that the more things you can do, the more likely it is that you're going to be able to make a living. Plus, the more marketable skills you have, the better that looks to industry types.

Making a living as just a songwriter is like winning the lottery. You HAVE to write hits. An artist can sit down with anyone and write a B-side, but if you're writing hits with them, not only are you going to get to write with them more, you're going to get PAID. There are tons of "just songwriters" here in Nashville, but most of them have day jobs and such because unless you're getting singles, you're not making much money.

RE: demos. Most songs need more produced demos. Unless you have a song that's real songwritery like "The House That Built Me," chances are, you're GOING to need at least a guitar/bass/drums/keys/whatever demo to really get the point across. 9/10 the people you're going to be playing the demo for aren't going to get the point with just a guitar/vocal unless it's the type of song that can live just like that. Even guys like Tom Douglas have to have fuller production tracks. If you DON'T have good/decent sounding demos, it probably means you're just not serious enough about your writing to give it that kind of treatment. A songwriter having production/engineering chops means that you can demo your own songs in-house and not have to spend all kinds of money at a studio.
Old 16th August 2014
  #52
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Content is King

Quote:
Originally Posted by newguy1 View Post
Plenty of songwriters are out there, but at the end of the day they're all at the mercy of a good producer (as always, really). But yes there are 100s of pro songwriters out there. Songwriter-onlys. Nothing died in the 2000s!

If you're referring to my other post, it was an artist asking about pitching his own music for placement. That's different than a songwriter pitching to a producer or artist.
The days when a Song Writer was truly at the mercy of Record Companies to get a song recorded are dead and gone. In 2014 any Song Writer can get an artist to make a record. The talent of the Song Writer will rule the day....
Old 16th August 2014
  #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FraternalHouse View Post
The days when a Song Writer was truly at the mercy of Record Companies to get a song recorded are dead and gone. In 2014 any Song Writer can get an artist to make a record. The talent of the Song Writer will rule the day....
Agreed, record companies have lost a lot of their power. I wasn't taking record companies, I said producers. You have to MAKE, ie produce, a recording of a song for it to exist off paper. The producer is essential to making a record, and the songwriter is at the mercy of a good producer to bring their song to life, even if the artist or songwriter takes on that role themselves.
Old 16th August 2014
  #54
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Ester Dean is just a songwriter. Given, she writes over preproduced tracks like the rest of the pop world but she doesn't produce or anything.
Old 17th August 2014
  #55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lukeforester1 View Post
Given, she writes over preproduced tracks like the rest of the pop world
That's what I'm talking about though. Her "demo" is pre-produced.

If it weren't for the production team, would there even be any songs at all, let alone a demo that is good enough to interest people?
Old 17th August 2014
  #56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newguy1 View Post
Many songwriters use their iPhones, its that freaking simple if you have the ability to sing yourself while strumming basic chords!! If you want to just write songs and lay down simple demos, there's a clear avenue for you.

newguy1, do they actually copyright each of these ideas?

Are most barebones ideas copyrighted before they are sent out?
Old 17th August 2014
  #57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brockorama View Post
newguy1, do they actually copyright each of these ideas?

Are most barebones ideas copyrighted before they are sent out?

They're not, no. I've never copywritten a demo idea. Usually barebones ideas are shared among trusted sources, like your publisher, an A&R, or frequent collaborators. But even if you're pitching a barebone piano and vocal idea to an EDM DJ or something, I wouldn't worry about it.

People really aren't out there looking to steal your ideas, esp if you don't have hits under your belt. Usually what gets "stolen" are older hit ideas, like the Blurred Lines case, or Vanilla Ice sampling Bowie, etc. No need to go crazy overprotecting yourself based off of a few outlier cases. A small percentage of people die in plane crashes but everyone still flies. .
Old 17th August 2014
  #58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newguy1 View Post
They're not, no. I've never copywritten a demo idea. Usually barebones ideas are shared among trusted sources, like your publisher, an A&R, or frequent collaborators. But even if you're pitching a barebone piano and vocal idea to an EDM DJ or something, I wouldn't worry about it.

People really aren't out there looking to steal your ideas, esp if you don't have hits under your belt. Usually what gets "stolen" are older hit ideas, like the Blurred Lines case, or Vanilla Ice sampling Bowie, etc. No need to go crazy overprotecting yourself based off of a few outlier cases. A small percentage of people die in plane crashes but everyone still flies. .
lol speak for yourself.

Of course what i deal with might not be the normal situation for most people and likely one of the few outlier cases, but i cant even rough out a song without being messed with, ideas taken from, scrutinized, criticized etc. etc.

I would really appreciate being able to release something before it is played with, please. I can't compete anyways and not even being able to release something before someone else goes public with theirs that plays off mine or uses ideas or even direct words/phrases, really gives me zero chance and makes me look like a super dick. I'm not being paid to play that game!

Anyways to the original question, the moment you make something it is immediately copy-written whether demo or not, and generally yes as Newguy1 says there isn't normally anything to be overly concerned or paranoid about.
Old 18th August 2014
  #59
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Hmmm...interesting newguy1 and pleonastic

At what point in the process would you actually copyright something? Some people seem to be looking for this as proof with a submission--is this not the case normally, then?

Would you pitch to publishers you don't know, without a true copyright?
Old 18th August 2014
  #60
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brockorama View Post
Hmmm...interesting newguy1 and pleonastic

At what point in the process would you actually copyright something? Some people seem to be looking for this as proof with a submission--is this not the case normally, then?

Would you pitch to publishers you don't know, without a true copyright?

I would send out to publishers with no copyright without a 2nd thought! They're not trying to steal from you, they're trying to find new talent. If you're good, they want more from you, to enable you to do better so they can make money off of you. There's way more money in working with you than stealing from you!

I googled "publishing submission stolen by artist" to see if any real-world cases came up, but nothing. I got this article however, which is pretty much in line with my own experience: Are You Worried Your Ideas or Work Will Be Stolen? - Jane Friedman

From the article:

"So, how much precaution should you take to keep your ideas secret?

Very little. I guarantee that others have similar ideas; you see it happen all the time in the business. Chalk it up to cultural zeitgeist. While I don’t advocate advertising your idea far and yon, or putting flashing lights around it on your blog, the chances that an agent, editor, critique partner, or stranger will:

(a) steal your idea
(b) execute your idea better than you
(c) AND be able to sell it
… are next to zero. It is not worth worrying about. Share your work with trusted advisers, send it to agents/editors for consideration, and talk about aspects of it on your blog. No problem. Unless you are known in the industry for coming up with million-dollar high concepts, it’s not likely you’ll experience idea theft."
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