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I have a large collection of poems which I've been meaning to submit for publication, but I need to know which format is used to send these babies. I don't want to send a word document because it seems like I'm just throwing all my work out there without any regard to the risk involved in a plain text document. Which format should I save and send my collection in?

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As far as my knowledge goes, publishers usually require a specific format (along with formatting guidelines) in which you can submit your manuscript. If not, you can always send in a secure pdf with restrictions on copying. –  Pravesh Parekh May 7 '14 at 18:37
Unless it's a particularly disreputable publisher, I've not heard of one stealing work from an author. just send it. Send it as a bitmap if you're really paranoid. –  Matt Ellen May 7 '14 at 18:46

1 Answer 1

Under no circumstances will you be able to protect textual works. From a technical standpoint. Not on Kindle, not on iBooks, not on Nook, not on your smartphone, not on the web, not in a Word document, not in an encrypted email, not via voice recording. Even if you send a bitmap or some other format, if a human can read it, they can OCR it. Period end of story.

Your protection consists of a) working with reputable publishers b) submitting to reputable sites c) understanding that textual content can be trivially stolen/harvested and d) realizing that if your stuff is good enough to BE stolen, that's actually not a bad problem for a starting author (especially a poet) to have!

Best of luck.

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Just to add to the answer, you can protect copying from pdf format and put a password so that OCR tools will ask for the password. However, it is not a fail proof method and I am sure there would be tools to get around this. Long story short, as James mentioned, you cannot absolutely guarantee that your work is secure. –  Pravesh Parekh May 8 '14 at 7:58
While I agree (especially point d for poetry), OCR is not in the same category of ease as copy and paste (and humans are still better at CAPTCHAs than computers). Making the publisher's job more difficult or implying the publisher is untrustworthy is unlikely to encourage reading much less accepting a submission. "Slush piles" are generally deep enough that publishers do not have to bother with submissions that violate their guidelines. –  Paul A. Clayton May 8 '14 at 16:02

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