Copyrighting a work

Question: When should my novel be copy written?


Answer: Copyright is automatic. As soon as you have finished a draft, you have copyright on it.

Of course, you can register your copyright if you are worried about protecting it. Registration is necessary to launch a lawsuit if your copyright has been infringed. But this is usually not necessary in the publishing industry (partly because most novels don't make enough money for it to be worthwhile to pursue expensive lawsuits - which also makes them not worth stealing). Of course, if your book becomes such a bestseller that you have reason to fear piracy, it may be worthwhile registering.

If you sign a contract with a publisher, make sure you retain copyright and merely grant the publisher the exclusive right to publish your work for a period of time (after which the rights revert to you). Other rights, such as subsidiary, foreign, worldwide, electronic, etc. need to be negotiated and may be sold separately. Your agent will help you with this.

It is always a good idea to register screenplays, since lawsuits are more common in the film industry and the amount of money writers get for a screenplay is more substantial (the Writers Guild of America offers a registration service).

If you want to register copyright on a novel and you are in the U.S., you submit a copy to the U.S. Copyright Office along with a $35 fee. Check their website for the most recent procedures. Governments in other countries have similar registration services. Many countries have mutual agreements concerning copyright, so registering in one country automatically protects your rights in other countries where agreements exist.

Comments for Copyrighting a work

Click here to add your own comments

Jan 17, 2014
Re: Copyrighting A Work.....
by: Todd Rogers

Hey there fellow author extraordinaire!:

Here is the URL to a question I posted on January 10th, 2014, titled appropriately enough, "How Do I Copyright My Material?"

http://www.how-to-write-a-book-now.com/how-do-i-copyright-my-material.html

I just wanted to add the following to the discourse in the hope that you find it's value as high as I believe it to be!

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Questions About Novel Writing.


 Step-by-Step Novel Planning Workbook


NEW! Make Money Writing Nonfiction Articles


"I've read more than fifty books on writing, writing novels, etc., but your website has the most useful and practical guidance. Now that I understand how a novel is structured, I will rewrite mine, confident that it will be a more interesting novel." - Lloyd Edwards



"Thanks to your "Create a Plot Outline in 8 Easy Steps," I was able to take a story that I simply just fooled around with and went willy nilly all over, into a clearly defined, intriguing battle where two characters fight to keep their relationship intact, and try to find a balance in control of themselves and their lives. Thanks to you, I'm not ashamed of the poor organization of my writing." - Nommanic Ragus

"I am so glad I found your site. It has helped me in so many ways, and has given me more confidence about myself and my work. Thank you for making this valuable resource, for me and my fellow writers. Perhaps you'll hear about me someday...I'll owe it to you." - Ruth, Milton, U.S.A.

"I never knew what to do with all the characters in my head, but since discovering Dramatica I am writing again in my spare time. Thank you for making this available. Yes, it is a bit complex, and it does take time, but I love it because it works." - Colin Shoeman

"I came across your website by chance. It is a plethora of knowledge, written in a simplistic way to help aspiring writers. I truly appreciate all of the information you have provided to help me successfully (relative term) write my novel. Thank you very much!" - Leo T. Rollins

"I can honestly say that this is the first website that is really helpful. You manage to answer complex questions in relatively short articles and with really intelligent answers. Thank you for taking the time to write these articles and sharing them so generously." - Chrystelle Nash

"...had no idea that a simple click would give me such a wealth of valuable information. The site not only offered extremely clear and helpful instructions but was a very enjoyable read as well. The education from your wonderful site has made me a better writer and your words have inspired me to get back to work on my novel. I wish to give you a heartfelt thanks for How to Write a Book Now, sir." -- Mike Chiero