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The How, When and Why of Copyrighting Your Book

The How, When and Why of Copyrighting Your Book

The How, When and Why of Copyrighting Your Book

Authors often ask whether they should copyright their book for protection against someone stealing their created work. The next question is when to do it. Let’s assume the answer to the first question is “yes,” (it always is) and review when, how, and why it’s essential to protect your written creation against theft.

Avoid The “Poor Man’s Copyright”

You may have heard about the so-called “poor man’s copyright” – mailing yourself the original copy of your created work. Even if done via certified mail, this is not a trusted way of copyrighting your work and the U.S. Copyright Office advises against it:

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.[i]

The Copyright Office reminds authors that you automatically retain these rights “from the moment the work is created,” but recommends the formal copyright registration for legal purposes.

Why You Should Copyright Your Book

Copyright infringement is defined as:

… the use of works protected by copyright law without permission, infringing certain exclusive rights granted to the copyright holder, such as the right to reproduce, distribute, display or perform the protected work, or to make derivative works. The copyright holder is typically the work’s creator, or a publisher or other business to whom copyright has been assigned.[ii]

Even though your work is automatically protected when you write it, that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to prove that you wrote it first. Copyright registration establishes a public record of your book’s copyright. Think of copyright registration as an affordable insurance policy for your book. 


When to Move Ahead with the Copyright Process

In the U.S., the copyright is legally assigned by the publisher when your book is put under contract with that publisher. This protects against the misuse of the author’s material within the U.S., but it is not necessarily global protection – as other nations may have different copyright laws.[iii] An author can also place a copyright notice on any unpublished manuscript before it is sent out, for example: Unpublished work © 2018 Mike Stickler. 

How to Copyright Your Book

The copyright process for your book is relatively easy and inexpensive. You just go to the government’s copyright website, fill out the online form, and pay a fee. Depending upon the type of work you are registering, the fee will vary, but for most books it is typically between $35 and $55.

The copyright registration of your book is effective on the date you file – not when the U.S. Copyright Office processes it. The “official” approval from the Copyright Office is about six months for online filings. For paper filings, expect about a 22-month turnaround. 

Creating Your Copyright Page

The copyright page in your book appears between the title page and table of contents. This page presents:

  • The copyright notice, which contains the © symbol. For example, ©2018 Mike Stickler. You can also use the word “copyright” in place of the symbol.
  • The year the book was published.
  • The name of the person or entity that owns the work, which is typically the author or publishing house.
  • Ordering information
  • Reservation of rights
  • Copyright notice
  • Book editions
  • International Standard Book Number (ISBN), the 13-digit number purchased by your publisher for your book from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency
  • Your website (You should have a website so readers can learn more about you, your other books, and other resources).
  • Credits to the book (cover designer, editor, etc.)
  • Disclaimer[iv]

It’s important to protect your creative work and to keep others from either claiming it as their own or extensively quoting from it in another work and claiming the quoted material as their own. As a writer, you own the intellectual property that you have created and copyrighting your book is an efficient and cost-effective way to protect your investment – and your creation.

One of the benefits or working with Leadership Book, is that we handle the copyright details for you, allowing you to concentrate on creating your book. In contrast, a self-published author has to take care of such details themselves, and sometimes they get lost in the shuffle. No matter where you are in the creative process, contact us today for a free consultation. We can help you reach your goal of getting your book published. 

If you have a story to tell, let Leadership Book help you tell it!

Leadership Books Publishing is an emerging powerhouse in book publishing. We’ve joined the two worlds of traditional and self-publishing into one company that can help do it all. Our capabilities and relationships allow us to create targeted and integrated book campaigns that mobilize high-profile contacts in your niche, capitalize on word-of-mouth marketing through social marketers, and extend your reach into the most prominent media publications. Our authors have the unparalleled service of an Executive Editor, one who will work with you in putting your story ideas into book form. Once that’s completed, our professional designers will work with you to design the cover and interior to make your book ready to sell.

Leadership Book markets your book by distributing to every major book seller on three continents.

About Michael Stickler

To set up an appointment to speak to a Literary Agent:
Email: Alfredo Baguio
Call: (702) 605-4354


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