One of my students recently asked me if I worry about someone stealing my ideas if I share a pitch on Twitter. While I wouldn’t post a whole manuscript online as required by some critique events, I don’t worry about posting a pitch. I firmly believe that if you give four writers a prompt, you are likely to get six or seven different stories because someone will have more than one.
My proof? I am someone who checks books out from my library every single week. I see some of them mentioned on Twitter. Others are reviewed in industry publications. Still others are mentioned by speakers at webinars, workshops, and conferences. After the SCBWI Big 5-0 conference, I requested a ridiculous number of picture books. And they all came at once so I sat down and read and read and read.
In this huge stack of books were three stories about babies – Walk On! A Guide for Babies of All Ages by Marla Frazee (Harcourt 2006), The Boss Baby by Marla Frazee (Beach Lane Books 2011), and Busy Babies by Amy Schwartz (Beach Lane Books 2019).
Other than the fact that these books feature babies doing baby things, they are very different. Walk On! A Guide for Babies of All Ages by Marla Frazee is written as a motivational guide for babies. “Are you sick of sitting around all day?” It then goes on to instruct babies and what they need to do to perfect walking.
The Boss Baby by Marla Frazee is all about a baby who runs the household. He is seldom happy. He is loud and domineering. He calls frequent meetings – time of day is no barrier.
Busy Babies by Amy Schwartz is a celebration of the many things that babies have to do. Really, babies are quite busy and the variety of tasks range from play time to snack time and every time in between.
Note just how different these three books are. If I tell people that I am writing a baby book, you can bet that my book will be nothing like this and nothing like yours. We each have our own unique way of spinning a story.
You can’t copyright an idea, but you can copyright a story. Still, if it bothers you to post an idea, don’t post a Twitter pitch. There are a vast number of other agents accepting queries.