After you’ve worked long and hard on your masterpiece, you are finally ready to self-publish it and get it out into the world. Before you take that step, though, it would be wise for you to copyright your work even if it is "only" a book of family recipes. While many people don’t realize that most works created after April 1, 1989 have copyright protection, taking the extra step of officially obtaining a copyright gives you a record that is traceable if you ever need to sue for copyright infringement. The action of getting a copyright for your book legally protects you from having someone else steal what you worked so hard to produce. It’s not difficult to do and you may have cause to thank yourself for it later.
- Put the copyright symbol on the book by either adding a circled "C" in the front section (imprint page) of your book or the word "copyright" with the date and author’s name following it (example: Copyright 2009 John Doe).
- Contact the U.S. Copyright Office (http://www.copyright.gov) to start the steps needed to copyright your book.
- The current fee for applying to copyright your book online is a mere $45.00 (increases to $65.00 on August 1, 2009), payable by electronic check, credit or debit card, or Copyright Office deposit account.
- Fill out a short form if your work is totally new and you are the sole author. Fill out the Standard TX form if there is more than one author of the work or other sources were used. Use form SE if you are publishing a periodical or a serial.
- There are plenty of tutorials on the U. S. Copyright Office website to help you through the process if you get confused.
- You can also send a paper form by snail-mail to the Copyright Office, if you prefer not to fill things out online.
- If you file for the copyright before your book is published, you’ll have to refile for another copyright of your book after it’s published. Basically, this means you’ll have two copyrights for the same work (and you will have paid two fees). If you think you’ll avoid this by waiting until after your book has been published before getting a copyright, keep in mind that you’ll have to send two bound copies of the book to the copyright office along with your registration paperwork.
- You can not copyright the book’s title! You can not copyright the name of a character, either. When you obtain a copyright, you are protecting the work within the body of the book, not the title itself. A copyright is meant to protect how you used the words, not to protect the words themselves.
- Works written as an employee actually belong to the employer, not to the author.
- When you copyright your book, the rights generally extend for your lifetime plus 70 years.
- There is no such thing as an international copyright. Different countries treat copyrighting differently, although most will protect foreign works under certain conditions.
Going through the steps to copyright your book is not really that difficult and it’s something every self-publishing author needs to do. You’ve taken the time to write your book, now take the time to safe-guard your hard work!