Wednesday, January 7, 2015

It Pays To Check

I found out yesterday what a gift google is. I use it to search various things on a frequent basis. I'm willing to bet that most of you do, as well. Either google or some other search engine. There are plenty of them available. Here's what happened that made me appreciate search engines.

Chicken Soup is looking for stories for a new book titled Inspiration for Nurses. I thought about a story I had written a few years ago that would work for that title. The story had been published in a Canadian medical hiring agency newsletter. Chicken Soup will take stories which have been published IF the story appeared in a local or small circulation publication, or on your blog. I felt the story met these guidelines.

I wanted to revise it a bit so I worked on it one afternoon until I felt it was polished enough to submit. Before I sent it sailing through cyberspace, I googled the title of the story and my name. To my great surprise, the Canadian publication did not come up but others did.

I'd forgotten that the story had also been published on a website called Insight of the Day. The site has a large following and I'd subbed the story on a whim. When I clicked on the link and saw the story at Insight, I remembered having sent it to them. But what about the other places? I checked each one and found that they were blogs that published inspirational stories. Apparently, each one just helped themself to the story when it was posted on Insight of the Day. 

Each place did give me credit with a byline and bio so it is not like they literally stole the piece and used it as their own. That's a good thing. The bad thing is that neither place had bothered to contact me and ask if they might use it. That truly irks me. It's not the first time this situation has arisen either. I've had it happen several times. I don't know how you keep people from doing this. If any of you have had a similar experience, I'd love to know how you handled it.

When it happened a number of years ago with a poem I'd written after 9/11, I contacted the website owners and expressed my feelings about using a story or poem without permission from the author. I told each one that, had they asked to use it, I would have been happy to grant the request. Then, I asked that they remove the poem from their site. One did with no problem but the other wrote me a scathing letter which made ME look like the bad guy. 

Since then, I have learned to google my stories to make sure of the publication situation before submitting them elsewhere. It takes a little time but it saves some embarrassing moments later when the editor runs a check on publication background. I don't think every editor does this, most take you at your word, but I'm sure there a good many who do run a check. And that's alright. I have no problem with it. 

It's taken a long time to get to my tip for you today. Check and doublecheck your previously published work before submitting it elsewhere. I'm glad that I did before sending the story to Chicken Soup and ending up having to withdraw it later and risk having a black mark in the editor's mental notebook next to my name. 

Next part of the tips is this: Appreciate what google and other search engines do for you. They are a gift that we can open again and again.


  1. Unfortunately the internet is not an honest place. That the people who copied the story left in the byline is a miracle, because I've seen many people just skip that part all together. A few years ago I wrote a blog about a man I had fallen in love with and it began showing up on various other people's blogs with minor edits to content and no byline whatsoever. I still see it occasionally pop up on social media sites like Tumblr, where it resonated with the younger set.

    People underestimate Google and its capabilities. I fully second the use of search engines for this very reason.

    1. Thanks for your comment. You're right. There are a lot of wily weasels among the good people on the internet and too often, we fall victim to them.

  2. great advice. I have been there numerous times. Some people are easy to deal with all others are absolute jerks.