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Writing Books/submit a query or wait


I showed my query letter to two people who have different views as to my next step. The first person who is a first time writer who just signed up with her first agent on her first try and her book is 3/4 finished per her account, but the agent loved the story and signed her on. She is writing a children's book with pictures that she drew. (She never had to write a synopsis, so now I believe in miracles). She says to submit and don't wait for my copyright to come back from the Library of Congress. I have all ready sent the copy and form off). The second person is an adult student learning to be a screenplay writer, she says to wait for my copyright to come back with my number. She says that my story sounds like it is worth the wait to protect myself and this is frequently spoken of in her classes. All I need to do is double space, page number and complete a synopsis and of course edit, check and edit again. My science fictional story is finished. Please tell me what do you think is my best next step.

Hi, L. Marie!

Okay, here's the scoop:  You CAN register your copyright if you want. The fee is (I think) $35. But the question is whether it's necessary. That answer is: Probably not. See, U.S. copyright law protects your book from the moment it's written on paper or a screen. The only thing registration does is put a time stamp on your creation so in the event the WORDS are stolen, you can sue. You can read more about it at the Copyright office website at:

What happens if you don't register? Well, then you can't sue. In reality, though, it's a very rare event for a book to be plagiarized because they don't have access to the work to steal it. If you send the manuscript to known, selling agents and publishers, it's really not an issue because they don't want your manuscript. They want the royalties from SELLING your manuscript. That's how they make their money.

Copyright protection is always a good idea for a final product. But in these early stages of the book, before it's accepted for publication, there's a good chance you'll be editing it. Copyright is a snapshot of what's on the page, like a PDF. If you edit, those new words aren't protected. You can't copyright an idea, or an intent of what you want the final book to be. It's just the words on the page, in the order they are at the moment you send the book.  

If you want to send the book in before you submit, feel free. No harm at all. But the publisher will do it again once it's ready to publish, so if you don't want to send it in before you submit, that's okay too. :)

Does that helP?


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Cathy Clamp


I'm happy to answer questions about any aspect of writing novels, from the beginning kernel of an idea through completion. I can help with writing a query letter and synopsis to an agent or editor. I can explain publishing terminology and acronyms. I can also assist with questions about verifying the credentials of agents/publishers and how to proceed once you've been accepted for publication. I can teach the rules of formatting a manuscript, creating viable plots, characterization and flow in the following genres: romance, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, suspense, horror, women's fiction, mainstream and mystery.


I'm a USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance for Tor/Forge Books. Along with a co-author, I've published fifteen novels (combination of mass market and trade softcover) since 2003, and have contracts for four more books through 2011.

Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Western Outdoor Writers, Horror Writers of America.

Tor/Forge Books, Western Reflections Publishing, BenBella Books, Running Press, Wild Child Publishing. Many others.

My educational background is limited to real life experience of publishing novels commercially for the past five years.

Awards and Honors
USA Today bestseller, Waldenbooks Mass Market Paperback Top 20 bestseller, Nielsen BookScan Top 20 bestseller, RT BOOKreviews Career Achievement Award winner, 2009, Book Buyers Best Award for Paranormal, Romantic Times Best Werewolf Novel, Write Touch Readers Award, EVVY Best Historical Chronicle Award, The Lories Best Paranormal. Many others.

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