How to Copyright a Book
The Nuances of How to Copyright a Book
How to copyright a book? It's a question I've hemmed and hawed about since I first published.
I thought it was complicated, messy, and expensive thing to do and that it really didn't add any additional copyright protection, but boy, was I wrong on all counts!
In the video below I'll show you how easy it is to copyright your book in the United States. Although it's easy, I found the copyright website from the government a bit intimidating and difficult to find the information you need (especially, if, like me, you don't know about the nuances of copyright) which is why I put it off for so long (going on three years since I published my first book).
So in this video, you can watch me copyright my own book (She's Gone), step-by-step. The video runs on the long side at fifteen minutes, but I cover the entire process, from logging into the copyright.gov website, to going through each section of the web form you'll need to fill out, to uploading my novel, in order for copyright people to do what they do (slowly, takes up to 8 months).
But first some background information.
Do I need to register a copyright for my novel?
No. In this country (USA) copyright exists from the moment the work is created.
So why I file for copyright protection?
If you need to file a lawsuit or you're sued because of a copyright dispute, you will need to register the copyright. Doing so after-the-fact can add more delays, frustraions, and it becomes more expensive (the copyright folks charge a hefty surcharge of hundreds of dollars to rush the filing and that's only if you meet very specific criteria).
It also offers added protection. There are shoddy scammers out there that plagerizse and re-write stolen content for their own "novels" which they easily publish to Amazon via Kindle Direct Publishing. Having filed for copyright won't stop this but it might help you when working with Amazon to prove you're the legitimate copyright holder.
Plus it's cheap. For $35 (which you can claim as a tax deduction for your business) you get the added protection and security of having a legitimate copyright filed on your work.
The Poor Man's Copyright
Can't I just mail myself my manuscript to reap the rewards of copyright protection without having to fill out forms and pay the copyright fee? No. That's an urban legend.
Direct quote from Copyright.gov:
The practice of sending a copy of your own work to yourself is sometimes called a “poor man’s copyright.” There is no provision in the copyright law regarding any such type of protection, and it is not a substitute for registration.