Keeping the Manuscript Under Wraps, pt. 2


By Neal Comment

A scout who would prefer to go unnamed offers some clarification on yesterday’s item about those hot “watermarked” manuscripts. “Watermarked is a slight exaggeration,” this source says of one of the two manuscripts in question. “Editors’ names appeared in the header of the electronic document (pdf) on every page. Nothing that a printer, copier, and black sharpie couldn’t solve.” As we were emailing, he came across a copy of the second manuscript, and saw that the other agent had tried a similar but equally circumventable tactic. One workaround: “Since the names of the editors are placed in a header and don’t interfere with any text it just takes a scan to a pdf (if it’s not already an pdf) and some simple margin adjustment (which takes a mere few clicks and can be arranged for every page with one further click).”

But I did hear about another book deal, one that took place a few months back, that involved a much more successful approach to keeping a “hot” manuscript from circulating into too many hands. As the agent and author for this particular novel, one of the most buzzed-about deals of 2007, tried to figure out how to minimize the exposure of the pages they were sending out, they turned to a technique that’s become increasingly common in the film industry, where script lockdown is a standard practice: protected paper. Had anybody tried to photocopy these opening chapters, we’re told, they’d have wound up with pages that boldly declared their outlaw status, essentially rendering them useless.