Once you’ve obtained your ISBN numbers, you may be interested in getting a Copyright for your book. This is another important step in the publishing process and can be done while you’re in the process of or even after you’ve received the printed book from whomever your publisher might be. You can relax, however, because any manuscript you produce is automatically protected with the first stroke of a pen. The benefit of registering your work with the Copyright Office is streamlined legal protection should you actually have to contend with a naughty manuscript thief.
The Copyright office is a branch of the Library of Congress whose website you’ll want to visit as a first step.
The first step in getting your Copyright Certification once you’ve visited their website is to create an account with them. You can begin your initial account registration on this page.
Before you begin filling out the application, you will need to determine which type you will be using; a “Single” or a “Standard” Application. In short, you’ll choose “single” if you’re the only author and “standard” when you have other contributors on the project. From the website of the Copyright office: “The application for “One Work by One Author” cannot be used to register a “work made for hire.” Likewise, you cannot use the application for “One Work by One Author” if the author is not the claimant for this work. If you are registering a “work made for hire” or if the author and the claimant are not the same person, you should use the Standard Application. To access the Standard Application return to the “Home” screen and select “Standard Application.”
Once you’ve settled on the application format you’ll want to determine if you’d like to copyright electronically, or by mail in which case you’ll wait longer and pay more. Online registration is the preferred route by most authors as well as the Copyright Office (eCO). The wait period for the electronic app is up to 9 mo. and up to 18 mo with the paper form. Regardless of the process time, your copyright is effective on the day of your submission.
Requirements for Copyright
- Filing fee: (Here’s an explanation of the fees). For a (trackable) online registration, the fee is $35 for a single application, and $55 for standard. The fees are non-refundable. If you opt for the traditional snail-mail paper route, prepare to pay an $85 fee.
- Completed application: for online application, just fill out form (find your form here) and submit. For your form, you’ll want to choose the type “TX” for literary works, and “VA” for visual arts (for photo/arts type books). If you you’re registering by mail, just download and print a copy of the form and mail it to: U.S. Copyright Office, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, DC 20559-6000
- Manuscript: A copy of your book, or what they refer to as a deposit. This copy is for the Copyright Office to keep.
Take a look at the following video for a nutshell to copyrighting your work. And, finally, I’ll leave you with the FAQ from the Copyright Office if you have some specific concerns.