An Author’s Guide to U.S. Copyright Registration when you Self-Publish

With the perceived risk among writers of copyright infringement so extremely high it's no wonder self-publishers are increasingly concerned about making sure their work is copyrighted.

Easy and affordable to do it yourself

Many self-publishing service companies now offer copyright services, but you don't need to use them. While they charge up to $150 for the service, it costs only $35 to easily do it yourself.

Copyright Books

Copyright is automatic

In reality, though, you might not even need to register a copyright. U.S. copyright law states that copyright exists from the moment the work is created, "without any action taken by the author, the moment it is fixed in a tangible form so that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device."

You don't even have to put a copyright notice on your work. It will ward off potential word thieves, though.

When you need one

You will have to register, however, if you wish to bring a lawsuit for infringement of a U.S. work.

In case you anticipate a lawsuit, or just want that extra protection, here's how to do it. You can register for $35, in about 35 steps, as it so happens, and coincidentally, it took me about 35 minutes, too.

Not just for authors and books

Note that while this example pertains specifically to authors, others can also register copyright. You can register works of visual arts, performing arts, sound recordings, and single serials at the same website.

Click here to see the step-by-step instructions and screenshots from the gov site.

Carla King

Carla King is a travel and technology writer turned author and self-publishing expert. She started self-publishing in 1995 and founded the Self-Pub Boot Camp series of educational books, workshops, and online courses in 2010. She runs the self-publishing and technology track at the San Francisco Writers Conference and a series of online courses at www.selfpubbootcampcourses.com.