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A Complete Guide to Copyrighting your Book

You have written an amazing book, now the next smart thing to do will be to copyright it. You don’t want to experience the nightmare where you randomly walk into a bookstore and pick up a book only to find there are similar dialogues and the same storyline as yours.

Copyrighting your book is a complex task and most authors like to steer clear of it or at least it’s the last thing that they are worried about. However, if you are an author and you have self-published your book then the responsibility to teach yourself the complex process of copyrighting and other aspects of the business falls on your shoulders alone. This includes learning about how you can protect your intellectual property.

A disclaimer – this blog is not, in any way, a professional advice. This work is only to make the process of copyrighting easy to understand.

What Exactly is Copywriting?

It is as simple as it sounds, copyrighting your work means to have the right to copy. This right is put in place so that when a book is published, others can’t steal or replicate your work and sell it for a profit or otherwise, without taking your consent.

This protection under the copyright is the government’s way of acknowledging that the work you have created is original and they will ensure that it remains only your intellectual property even when you have published the book and it’s in the public sphere.

Even though all the work created by an individual is their property, a copyright is how one can prove this. The copyright holder has the only exclusive right to make copies, publicly display, distribute, and even create derivations of the work based on the original work or art.

Why Should you Copyright your Book and How Does it Work?

Not only is getting a copyright proof of your work being your intellectual property, it also helps strengthen your defense in case of copyright infringement by any other person or entity. For instance a copyright can help prevent a bookstore from creating copies of their own of your work and selling them for a profit. It also prevents other authors from copying and plagiarizing your work.

As an author of a book, you possess four exclusive rights. These include:

  • The right to distribute copies of your work
  • The right to make copies of or reproduce your work
  • The right to perform your work or to display it publicly
  • The right to create a derivative of your original work

You are the only person with their rights and they remain yours alone, unless you choose to sell them to someone else like a publisher.

Whether you have gone through the publishing process via a professional route or have decided to self-publish your own book, the authorship of your work automatically establishes your ownership of it according to the United States copyright law. In the U.S. however, filing a copyright registration soon after you have produced a work is necessary, especially if you later need to take action against obtaining statutory damages and/or infringement. Extensive proof will be required for you to show that you are the sole owner of the work/book if you don’t possess the formal copyright registration. Which is why it’s important to have a registration of your copyright.

What is a registered copyright?

When you register your work with The United States copyright office, you have, essentially, created a public record of the authorship of your work for the whole world to know and see. It shows to them that you are the sole owner of the intellectual property at hand and what it means when people say that you need to copyright your book.

Even though registering your copyright costs money, people still do it simply as a form of insurance. This registration is the very basis of a suit, if you come to the point where you might need to file one. Without a registration with a federal body, you have no case or leg to stand on in a court of law in case of infringing on your intellectual property.

Even though the chances of that happening are extremely low, it’s still best to be safe than sorry. Theft of the intellectual property of an individual is the biggest taboo in the publishing industry. A majority of professionals will respect your work and book for what it is: an original work that should not be stolen.

There still remains a very small chance that your work might get stolen, even if it’s a slim one. Whether you register or not, it’s up to you. Depending on your risk profile, you will get a peace of mind if you register your copyright.

Here is how you can copyright your book:

In the US, if you are looking to register your literary work, you have to submit a copyright application with the U.S. Copyright Office. We have compiled a step by step guide to tell you exactly how to go about it.

1.       Visit the Official US Copyright Website.

Copyright.gov was set up by the Library of congress. It is the site that lets you fill out and submit registration forms online by completing a few simple steps of the registration process.

2.       Select the Proper Category.

Once on the website, please click where it says “Register a Copyright,” then select “Literary Works.”

3.       Create an Online Account.

In case you do not have an online account with the U.S. Copyright Office already, you can create one in order to access the portal.

4.       Select the Standard Application.

Once you’ve logged into the site, navigate to the left side of the screen where it says “Register a Work.” underneath that, click where it reads “Standard Application.”

5.       Fill Out the Appropriate Forms.

Click “Start Registration,” then complete the form with all the correct information regarding your book. Make sure all the information you add in this form is correct, it is a legal document after all.

6.       Pay the Fee.

Pay the filing fees to the U.S. Copyright Office.

7.       Submit Your Written Material.

Send in the finished and final version of your manuscript to the U.S. Copyright Office.

And just like that, you have filled in the details to register for the copyright of your book and once the process is complete, your intellectual property is protected by the government itself with a legally binding document. 

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