I have just registered the copyright for the latest Jim Dallas novel, and it occurs to me that many new writers are unsure about the process.
It's not that hard. Here's the least you should know about copyright:
- Your work is automatically copyrighted in your name the instant you create it. You don't need to do a thing, not even put a copyright notice on your manuscript.
- Are you e-publishing your book or publishing as a print-on-demand book? If you are, skip 3 and go to 4.
- If you are submitting your work to a traditional publisher, don't add a copyright notice. The publisher takes care of that, and adding one makes you look a bit amateurish. The publisher will copyright the work in your name and you will own the copyright.
- If you are independently publishing your book, make sure you have a copyright notice just after the title page information: Copyright (Year), Your Name. For, let's say, Joe Bltfszptlk, that would be: Copyright 2012, Joe Bltfszptlk . You could also add a notice that you reserve all rights under the Berne Convention; that puts people on notice that you have claimed all rights and that no one can, say, make a movie of your book without paying you for the drama rights.
- After publishing the book, it's best to register the copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office (overseen by the Library of Congress). You will need an identifying book number (the ISBN number, or maybe the Amazon ASIN number (you buy the first from Bowker; Amazon supplies the second for free). Then you establish an account with the Copyright Office (free) and fill out an online form. You will need to upload a deposit copy of your book electronically (I do mine as .pdf files). Then you pay the fee (currently $35.00), and your rights in your work are copyrighted and registered.
- Note that you REGISTER the copyright AFTER publication, not before.
It's a little chore, but it's fairly easy. Takes fifteen minutes once you get into the routine. And I think it's worthwhile. We all dream of a Hollywood offer.....