Tips To Help You Copyright Your Book

In the United States, most creative works produced privately and originally after April 1, 1989 are copyrighted and protected whether they have a notice or not. Publication or registration with the U.S. Copyright office is not required for a copyright to exist. Your book copyright and your ownership of this right occur as you create it.  Your creative work must exist in a tangible form – such as on paper or a computer disk. Major advantages to registration include the following:

  • A copyright registration is necessary for works of U.S. origin before the owner can file an infringement suit in court. Filing before an infringement takes place allows the copyright owner to seek statutory damages and attorney’s fees and not just damages and lost profits.
  • It serves as prima facie evidence in an infringement suit of the existence of a valid copyright.

As you can see, it can be a good idea to copyright your book. Even though the process is not difficult, it can be helpful to have a guide that will spell out the steps to take in order to obtain a copyright.

Before you begin the application process, you must first prepare your manuscript. The entire piece of work needs to be submitted so be sure to check that all editing, both for grammar and for the story, are completed. When you are certain the work is finished, visit the official site of the U.S. Copyright Office. This is where you’ll find all the appropriate paperwork to file your copyright application. You will be instructed to select a form for submission depending on the type of novel you’ve written.

Once the paperwork is completed it needs to be sent with your manuscript and filing fees to the Library of Congress. Instructions and tutorials on the U. S. Copyright Office page will guide you regarding procedures and the fees you’ll need to send, which can range anywhere from $35 to $65. Approximately six months after you register your work, you should receive a certificate stating that everything is in order and that you are officially part of the copyright office. When publishing your book, you should display the following in the first pages of the novel:

  • Your copyright stamp of approval. 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).
  • An acknowledgement that you own the book.
  • The publication date.
  • The Library of Congress catalog number.

Keep in mind that you can not copyright the title of the book or the names of the characters. A copyright protects how you used the words within the body of the book only and doesn’t protect the words themselves. Also:

  • Watch your timing: 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. So, you’ll have two copyrights for the same work and you will have paid two fees. If wait until after your book has been published before getting a copyright, you will have to send two bound copies of the book to the copyright office along with your registration paperwork.
  • When you copyright your book, you are generally entitles to the rights to your manuscript for your lifetime plus 70 years.
  • International copyrighting does not exist. Different countries treat copyrighting differently, although most will protect foreign works under certain conditions.

For more information regarding how to copyright your book, or for other question regarding the book printing process, contact the book printing experts at by calling them at 1-800-698-2071, or by emailing them today.


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