7 Quick Steps to Copyrighting Your Book

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The information provided in this post does not constitute legal advice.

First of all, what’s a copyright and why do you need one?

A copyright is the right to your intellectual property (in this case, your written work)—the right to print, publish, or perform it. 

Technically, you own the copyright to your book from the moment you write it. However, registering a copyright in the public record means you can prove it if you ever need to. Therefore, it will protect your written word from being used by someone else. Securing a copyright could save you pain down the road, so it’s a good idea to register a copyright for your book after you finish the final draft.

Copyright sounds like a big, scary, legal matter, but the process is actually quite simple. We’ve listed seven quick steps for accomplishing this task. They explain how to register through an electronic filing; paper filing is also available, but it’s more expensive ($125 for paper versus $45 for electronic). Also, a paper filing will take longer to process. If you’re more interested in speed and efficiency, you will probably opt for an electronic filing.

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How to register a copyright online

  1. Open the U.S. Copyright Office website (copyright.gov) and click on “Registration” (top menu), then “Literary Works.”
  2. Click on “Register a Literary Work” (button on the left side of the page).
  3. Create an account. (At the bottom of the login area, there is an option for new users to create an account.)
  4. Select “Standard Application” and follow the prompts to complete the form. (You’ll be asked for details about your written work.)
  5. Review the application before submitting it. (Once you submit, you cannot make further changes.)
  6. Pay the registration filing fee.
  7. Submit the final version of your manuscript. 

Note: You should register a copyright after the final version of your manuscript is complete but before you publish. There is no sense in going through the process before you have finished your book. 

Not sure how to get your manuscript ready? Learn more about how to get your book edited for publishing. It should be in its final stage before you even consider registering for a copyright.

And that’s it! After a quick form and a nominal fee, you’ll have peace of mind that your written work is protected. You will ensure that everyone knows you’re its rightful owner. 

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