An interesting question

Ally asks:

Justine, I was wondering what you would do in a situation like this:

“As some of you may have heard, my partial draft of Midnight Sun was illegally posted on the Internet and has since been virally distributed without my knowledge or permission or the knowledge or permission of my publisher.”—Stephenie Meyer

Since I don’t really write or anything I don’t know what I would do. Would it bum you out to where you couldn’t write it anymore or would you just ignore it and keep going?

I’d be very unhappy and hurt that someone had betrayed my trust like that. I recently sent my most recent novel, Why Do I Lie?, to a bunch of people for comments—if they’d passed it on to other people to read I would be furious. That’s an enormous violation of trust.

As for what I’d do in that situation? It’s very difficult for me to say. I’m not Stephenie Meyer. It’s really unlikely an unfinished ms. of mine would wind up online and widely circulated. I don’t have anywhere near her fan base.

I can definitely imagine the whole thing souring me on the book. On the other hand, I really like to finish what I’ve started. Not to mention that my manuscripts tend to change a lot after I’ve finished the first draft. So what was distributed would not bear much resemblance to the final book.

I certainly feel a great deal of sympathy towards Meyer. That situation sucks.


  1. lotti on #

    That would be awful. there’s only one thing worse than having an entire book ruined by spoilers, and that’s being the author of the book ruined by spoilers.
    I really hope Stephenie carries on with Midnight Sun. There must be plenty of other people who abstained from spoilage. But I totally understand if she doesn’t.

  2. hope on #

    I already said on another site that I’d rather have my underwear run up the flag pole at sleepaway camp. At least I could get the underwear back down. There are so many bad things in my first drafts—placeholders for stuff I intend to write later—stuff that would make your eyes bleed. Even if I my final copy was very different, I would feel that my readers would never get the bad first pass out of their minds when they were reading it. I think Meyer’s public response was well measured. Man, if it were me, you’d know my agent had typed the post for me. What I’d written would be unprintable.

  3. Serafina Zane on #

    I have enough why-can’t-i-unsend-emails moments (or at least a huge disclaimer before it) when I send any writings to anyone, to have a huge part of the first draft posted would just be unbearable.

  4. Erin on #

    I would be extremely mad if any of my first drafts got posted anywhere. I haven’t published anything yet, but I can just imagine what that would be like. Stephenie Meyer posted the entire manuscript on her site, since so many people had already read it, but I couldn’t bring myself to read it. I still feel like that would be a gigantic violation to her. I just can’t imagine what it would be like to have my work be read before it was ready. I was looking back at the first draft of the novel I’m rewriting at the moment, and I couldn’t stand having anyone (outside of my family and my friend (who is always my first reader) ever see that draft. Parts of it are extremely excrutiating. I feel so bad for Stephenie.

  5. Brent on #

    I don’t know what I’d do either. I can imagine some of the impact though. A writer is both egotistical and fragile. To presume that someone, or lots of someones, want to hear what I have to say and will pay to do so is egotistical. At the same time, I’d fret over every bad review, low sales numbers for a month, etc. Do I really suck that bad?

    A leaked manuscript would expose you to all of that before you even finished the project. What if a lot of people slammed your favorite character? Could you write the scenes the same way after finding that out? Would you be tempted to go back and rewrite because of the comments? If so, would that be good or bad for the book?

    I definitely feel for Ms. Meyer. Even a die-hard optimist would have to squint a lot to find a silver lining there.

  6. hope on #

    I’ve thinking about this some more, and I have changed my mind on one point. Meyer said she couldn’t continue to write the story because, in her state of mind, the Cullens would lose, all the good guys would die, etc. I understand entirely. But the more I think of it, the more I’d like to read that book. Wouldn’t you?

  7. Corey on #

    I think if I were to send out advanced copies of something I thought might be published I would find a particular sentence in the manuscript and tweak it ever so slightly for each copy I sent, effectively ‘fingerprinting’ them. No one would know any better unless they saw (and managed to read and recall) two complete copies. It wouldn’t stop it from being shared, but it would at least identify the culprit.

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