by J Seph Twitter: @jsephwrites
You have written your book and you want to make sure you have all bases covered. You are not interested in anyone taking credit for your hard work other than yourself, so you figure you need to get your self-published book copyrighted. Let’s go over what that procedure entails.
Do you even need to copyright your book? Technically, and legally, the answer is both yes and no. Let me explain. Under current copyright law, once your work is produced in any tangible form (written, printed, typed, saved, or otherwise recorded) it is a legally protected work without requiring any formal registration. This natural copyright applies to tangible, recorded work and is not extended to a “told out-loud” story that is never written or recorded in some manner. In addition to being tangible, this form of copyright is only extended to your original work.
The formal process of copyrighting requires registering your self-published book with the U.S. Copyright Office and this process does cost money. In most instances and in the long term, paying to copyright your book is worth the investment. Copyrighting your book adds an extra, nearly though not totally required, level of protection. Copyrighting also works in your favor as leverage to litigate and collect damages in any instances where your intellectual property is used and/or reproduced without your consent.
In general, have your work copyrighted to avoid any future complications. Now let’s take a look at how to have your self-published work registered for copyright.
Typically a publisher handles the paperwork and process of having a book copyrighted on behalf of the author, but as a self-publisher it will be your responsibility to do so. It is a fairly simple and straightforward process that can be initiated electronically by visiting Copyright.Gov. The fee for a single author copyrighting one body of work is $45 to file electronically. Alternatively, a paper filing is $125. Once the fee is paid you may submit the work that is to receive the copyright. When submitting electronically make note of the file types that are recognized by the system. You may also print a shipping slip to submit a physical copy of your literary work. You will receive an email confirmation that your work has been submitted for copyright.
A common practice is to include a copyright page in your self-published book. This gives no extra protection but does inform the reader that they are reading a registered copyrighted work. This page consists of your name, year of publication, an International Standard Book Number (ISBN), reservation of rights, the book edition, the copyright symbol, and a disclaimer.
There are helpful video tutorials on the U.S. Copyright Office’s website (copyright.gov) to further assist and offer a more in-depth walkthrough of the process.