The Real Scoop on Copyrighting Your Book

Intellectual property and digital copyright laws conceptual illustration with copyright symbol and icon on a red computer keyboard button.

Nothing beats the feeling of holding your first book in your hands. You’ve poured so much time, brain sweat, and even tears into bringing it into being. And you can’t help but feel just a little bit protective…

What if someone tries to steal it?

It happens all the time. You can find pirated copies of almost anything – if you know where to look. So how do you protect your book? Do you need to copyright it?

It all depends.

You see, your work is under copyright protection the moment you create it. As long as you can prove you wrote it – for example, produce the working copy off your computer – that baby is undeniably yours.

But, if you want an extra measure of protection against plagiarism – one that will stand up in court – you need to take it one step further. And I’m not suggesting you use the “Poor Man’s Copyright.”

You’ve probably heard of it. This popular method of proving your right to a work involves using the postal service to mail a copy of your manuscript to yourself – and then setting aside the sealed envelope for safe-keeping. People can easily fake this process by mailing an unsealed envelope to themselves and then adding the manuscript later. Needless to say, having a Poor Man’s Copyright does not stand up well in court.

There’s a better way to protect your work – and it won’t set you back much at all. Simply register your book with the Copyright Office.

That’s right… for a mere $35 and a few minutes of your time, you can get solid, unquestionable copyright protection for your work. And, with the rash of plagiarism plaguing writers these days, it’s totally worth it.

Here’s what you need to do:

1) Go to www.copyright.gov.

2) Choose Register a Copyright. (It’s under the heading “How Do I?“)

3) Click on Log into eCO.

4) Create an account if you’re a new user (which I assume you are).

5) Once your account is created, go to Copyright Registration and choose Register a New Claim.

6) Complete the online registration form.

7) Review your form before clicking the Add to Cart button.

8) As I mentioned earlier, you’ll be charged $35 to register your copyright. Select Checkout to pay and complete the payment process. But DO NOT close the window, because you’re not done yet.

9) Click on CONTINUE to upload your book files. I uploaded my CreateSpace PDF and book cover JPEG files.

10) Click the green button to complete your submission.

11) Go to step 2 and create your shipping slip.

12) Include shipping slip with your book and mail to:

Library of Congress
Copyright Office – TX
101 Independence Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20559-6222

And that, my author friend, is that.

Like I said, it doesn’t take much time or money to get rock-solid copyright protection for your work. So go for it. You’ll be glad you did.

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