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Q: How can I explore my fabulous idea for a new magazine without someone stealing it? I want to approach other people in the publishing business, but I don't want anyone to steal my idea!

Answer: People ask this question all the time. Unfortunately, there isn't an easy answer.

You can read about non-disclosure agreements at Wikipedia. And you can download one from Lawyers tell us that even a non-disclosure agreement won't really protect you if someone wants to take your idea and do it on their own. In other words, a dishonest person will get around any protections you try to put up, no matter how careful you are. So there is only one protection, and that's just to be careful. Know who you're talking to and what their interests might be. For example, consultants like us don't steal ideas for two reasons. First and foremost, we'd be out of business in a second if we couldn't keep secrets, and second, we're happy being consultants, and we don't want to be publishers (been there, done that, not again, thanks).

But a publishing company is different. Big publishers are constantly looking for new ideas. They have whole teams of people working on ideas all the time. In fact, experienced publishers have probably already spotted your idea but haven't acted on it for one reason or another. Many of the big companies will ignore any publication that can’t achieve paid circulation of 500,000 or more. And that leaves lots of niches that they won’t pursue.

A good idea often springs to life in several spots at the same time. It just happens that way. So another protection is to assume that you won't get to keep the idea all to yourself anyway, and proceed with a business plan COUNTING on competitors. Competition will be inevitable anyway, sooner or later. So just plan for it and it won't undo you when it comes along. As consultants, we offer quick, honest feedback about your ideas. Learn about our services for startups, then, if it looks like we can help you, e-mail us.

More Information

Our two publishing how-to books have lots of information about bringing your idea to a reality. Starting and Running a Successful Newsletter or Magazine covers the business side of publishing - how to raise money and write a business plan, plus selling ads and growing circulation. Every Nonprofit's Guide to Publishing covers editing, design, digital workflow, production, as well as budgeting, negotiating a printing contract, and working with the post office.




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