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While shelving at the library today, I happened to pick up this rather attractive novel, by Sharon Owens. Glancing idly at the back cover I did a double-take. NO! It couldn't be... It was. The story is identical to my novel-in-progress. Well, almost. It's the same idea, anyway.


I mean. For heaven's sake. What's a girl to do? More to the point, what am I going to do??

This situation reminds me of an interview I read, a while ago, with the author Sophie King (aka Jane Bidder.) Apparently she wrote 11 - yes ELEVEN novels, before The School Run was accepted for publication, and the reason two of those novels were rejected was that, on both occasions, the publisher had just accepted a similar story written by someone else. How annoying must that have been? I simply can't imagine the frustration.

I suppose I should be inspired by the fact that, instead of giving up and sulking in a corner for twelve years, she just kept plugging away until she got it right. She's written another couple since then, I think.

Oh bum. I'd better get m'thinking cap on. I don't want to give up, but I'm going to have to do some serious twiddling.


Yvonne said…
Karen I'm so sorry that must have been some shock. But there MUST be space in the market for several books with the same idea, and I'm sure you can knock the socks off the book you found. Honestly. Like you say it's not identical and I'm sure you have different takes on it...whatever you decide I hope you're not feeling too blue. BIG HUGS.
SpiralSkies said…
Yep, what Yvonne said. Plus, it proves that your idea is publishable too. Go for it. Go on!
Tom Foolery said…
Clarkey, don't panic, just view the situation from another angle. I know it's easy said than done, but I will eat my words if you don’t find a solution. I have every confidence that you will. TommoX
Sarah Dunnakey said…
Having googled Sharon Owens' book it sounds like a great idea - but also one that could easily stand up to several interpretations - ESPECIALLY YOURS! Don't give up.
Big Question though - are you going to read her book?
KAREN said…
Thanks Yvonne :o) I know every story under the sun has been done and the thing is to find a new angle, but I thought I had! Anyway, my brain is ticking over as we speak. At least I think it's my brain...

spiralskies - My brain hurts (must be all that ticking) and I've muttered some unkind things about that poor, undeserving woman, but I'm not going to give up just yet :o)

tommo - I was bit discombobulated, to say the least, but I'm going to read her book and see how similar it really is, first. Then I'll have a little weep into m'hanky and think on :o)

sarah - I AM going to read the damn book, to see how it compares with my idea, and I'll take it from there. Grrr. She's probably done it much better too...
HelenMH said…
Oh god! How close though? Better to find out now I guess, so you can start working on the USPs of yours. Read hers, then make yours better! We all know you can xxx
Paul Capewell said…
That must indeed be very frustrating.

But it is interesting when you think of music and how much an album can...ape another, while some border on plagiarism - and yet 99% of the time, that's fine. The same's got to be true of books, surely? I don't mean family-saga-esque join-the-dots plotlines, but surely there's only so many stories that can be told.

The same's true of films - I remember being told in Media Studies that there are seven basic plotlines (this must be true of books too).

Anyway, don't be put off - if your brain can conjure up the sort of thing that sells, and you enjoy doing it - go for it!
Lane said…
Soooo annoying but there must be a way of tweaking it to be just different enough. Aren't there a couple of hugely successful chick- lits where a woman 'inherits' a baby? Sure I read something about somewhere.
It proves though that you have brilliant ideas which are also very commercial.
Do NOT be despondent. Verboten d'you hear!:-)
Debs said…
What a pain. Mind you now that you know what hers is about, can't you change yours a bit?

I read the School Run and enjoyed it very much. I remember reading about Sophie King's eleven books. If there's one thing we need in this game, it's persistance that's for sure.
wordtryst said…
Gad, that must have felt awful. But, I would imagine that even if two or more people come up with the same idea for a book, each would handle it uniquely. I wouldn't give up on the book if I were you.

Look at the positive side: your idea is publishable. And I'm sure you've seen this in reviews: ' [insert author/title], but much better [or smarter or funnier]'.
KAREN said…
helenmh - Pretty close! My setting was a village restuarant rather than a tavern, but the story was pretty much the same, plus my idea was to turn the restaurant back into a local pub!! Never mind, I'm sure I can conjure up a new twist.

paul - Very good point. I've heard about the seven basic plot-lines too, and you're right...a lot of albums do sound a lot like,erm, well...other albums. I don't mind, because if I like a particular band I'm bound to buy music by bands or artists that sound similar, and the same principle must apply to reading too :o)

lane - Verstanden! (I think) - and you're right about the baby-inheriting stories...both very different. I'm already tweaking, as I'd rather believe I've had a brilliant idea than a totally unoriginal one!!

debs - I'm definitely working on it. It was just that initial sinking feeling of 'oh, I see. It's already been done. Might as well give up then.' Well, if Sophie King can persevere, so can I!

wordtryst - It was a bit of a 'sinking stomach' moment, but it's in my nature to bounce back...eventually :o) Maybe when I finally send the manuscript off, I can say...'it's like Sharon Owens, but much better!'
Kerry said…
Karen, that is gutting, I'm so sorry. on't they say there are only 5 (or some other equally meagre number) totally unique stories in the world and that we are just constantly adapting them?

At the end of the day the story you have to tell will be totally unique to you and what need to say. Think of crime or sci-fi novels, they use exactly the same skelaton to work on - it's just the way they flesh it up that makes them individual! Read the book and take it from there, I;m sure it'll be grand :)
Annieye said…
Oh no! What a bummer! I always worry that my ideas are something my mind has dragged up from the murky depths of a memory of something I read years ago.

Don't trash your novel, though. There's only supposed to be a handful of plots in the entire world. It's inevitable that authors will write a different take on a similar idea.
Leigh said…
Having identical books on the market never stopped Dick Francis (although it might have helped that he wrote them), or Barbara Cartland for that matter.

I would keep going. Even if you finished it today, it wouldn't be in the shops for two years. That's a long time in the book world. As long as you approach a different publisher/agent I can't see the problem. You obviously have a good premise!!
KAREN said…
annieye - I did wonder for a minute, if I'd read the book before! No trashing though...that would be a waste :o)

leigh - Fair point! I did think this novel was her latest, but apparently it was published in 2005 - I think it's been given a new cover - so by 2020 people might have forgotten the plot altogether :o)
liz fenwick said…
It's all been said - but remember the only thing that makes a story unique is what you bring to it (messing up Julie Cohen's quote to me!)
L-Plate Author said…
Hi Karen, I met Sophie King (Jane)last year, got invited to her book launch Second Time Lucky. It was based on four characters, and their families living together in a house converted into flats. What was the book I was plotting at that time? Four women living in an apartment block. I told her she had stolen my idea and she mentioned then that about the book she wrote that was the same as someone elses. One of my plots has such an 'easy' backgound it could easily be written about but I doubt it would be the same for every author.

Keep on going matey, that's what we write for. x

ps am starting a private blog this weekend, leave me a comment on my blog if you want an invite x
KAREN said…
Thanks Liz, I'll bear that in mind :o)

l-plate - Eleven novels, Sophie King wrote...that gives me hope! I'd love an invite, by the way :o)
Bernadette said…
I had exactly the same happen last year - sitting in the hairdressers, reading a magazine I never buy, to find an article about MY book, finished about a month previously, only written by someone else. I can't tell you how many similarities there were. I even read the blurb to my mum and she said 'Oh, is that what you've written for your book?'
Everyone said the same to me as they are saying to you, and I'm sure they are right. No-one writes in quite the same way; the joy of a good book is in the writing not just the plot; there are only seven plots anyway; it shows your book is marketable etc.
I'm sure all these things are true - but it doesn't stop quite how much it hurts. I'm sorry you've had this upset. I hope in the last couple of weeks you've managed to get your 'onwards and upwards' hat back on.
KAREN said…
bernadette - I have had a bit of a wobble, and even started to think about expanding a new idea I'd had, but on reflection I've decided to stick with it for now. I had a read of the book at the weekend, and it's a very different, 'cosier,' feel to the one I was aiming for, so hopefully that'll be enough to distinguish it.
Good luck with yours :o)

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