In my past post, “Why You Need to Copyright Your Work,” I explained different types of copyright registration, when you should look into a copyright for your book, and why.
Today we are going to talk about how to get a formal U.S. copyright for you book. You can get a copyright for your particular country if you’d like (just Google the process), however it is valuable to get a U.S. one as it is recognized by many countries and saves you the hassle of having to get it later should you not be an American and want your book to be protected in North America.
Although your work is automatically copyrighted from the moment you create it, formal registration is how you will be able to prove your claim to your work should a legal dispute actually arise. That is the purpose of a getting your copyright in writing, and you can do this on the website of the U.S. Copyright Office (copyright.gov).
To register your book with the office, you will need to submit their application form, along with a non-returnable copy of your manuscript and their registration fee. Make sure that the copy of your book that you send is error-free and in top condition. This is what they will have on file for you should anything happen, and you really don’t want to send crappy stuff. Usually they will be fine with an electronic copy of your manuscript, but you may be asked to send a hard copy as well. This can simply be the entire document printed and mailed.
Once you get your copyright protection, it generally lasts for the rest of your life plus 70 years. There are other factors that could give or take several years, which you can find out on the FAQ of the website.
Don’t neglect this part of the process. As an author, you should believe in yourself and your work so much that you are prepared for it to take off and become something that someone out there feels is great enough to want to try to pass off as their own. Protect your work. You deserve it.