Writing Books/Copywrite

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Question
Hello Bobbi, My question is after a book is written how do I go about protecting my work with a copywrite before sending off for prospects.  I've done research but I would like your advice also.  Is the standard initialing acceptable? Would I need to initial each page? Would I need to get it notarized so that the idea cannot be taken by someone else?  Any help in this matter would be greatly appreciated.   Thanks, Lisa

Answer
Thank you for writing, Lisa.

According to current law, you own the rights to your copy—hence copyright, rather than copywrite—the moment you complete a body of work. If you find that someone has used your material without permission, you have the right to sue, whether you registered the copyright or not. You don’t have to initial the manuscript, register it, get it notarized, or anything, because it is your intellectual property already, and the law automatically protects you, should anyone use your material without your permission.

If you send your manuscript to an editor, publisher, or agent, they know the law, too, and they will not steal your material. When editors, agents, or publishers see that the author has copyrighted a manuscript, they know they are dealing with a person who is either an amateur or paranoid or both, and I'm sure you don't want to leave them with that impression.

Manuscripts are always open to change, whereas copyrights are not, so the time to register a copyright is right before a book goes to press, when it is in its absolute final form. If you plan to self publish, right before the book goes to press, you may register your copyright by following the procedures outlined on the following government Web site:  http://www.copyright.gov/register/literary.html.  

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Bobbie Christmas

Expertise

Book Doctor Bobbie Christmas owns Zebra Communications, a book-editing firm in metro Atlanta. She not only edits books, she also helps writers power up their prose to increase their chances of success. She is the author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), a creative-writing guide that won three awards.

Experience

Bobbie has spent more than 40 years in the publishing and communications industry and has run Zebra Communications, a book-editing company, since 1992. The editor of many publications and periodicals, she has worked with book publishers and trade magazine publishers as well as working in marketing communications and corporate communications.

Organizations
Past president, Georgia Writers Association; past vice president, South Carolina Writers Workshop; charter/lifelong member, Florida Writers Association; Southeastern Writers Association; Atlanta Writers Club; Society for the Preservation of English Language and Literature (SPELL); International Guild of Professional Consultants

Publications
Write in Style (Union Square Publishing), A Cup of Comfort (Adams Media Corporation), A Cup of Comfort for Friends (Adams Media), A Cup of Comfort for Mothers and Sons (Adams Media), Haunted Engounters (Atriad Press), Remembering Woolworth's (St. Martin's Press), First-Time Home Buyer magazine, HomeBusiness Journal, Apparel Industry Magazine, Edge Magazine, Atlanta Jewish Times, Time Travel Australia, American Writers Review, Points North, That's Entertainment, Atlanta Parent, Agnes Scott Alumnae Magazine, etc.

Education/Credentials
Journalism: University of South Carolina plus four decades of working in publishing, marketing, communications, advertising, newspaper and magazine production, book publishing, etc.

Awards and Honors
First Place, nonfiction, Georgia Writers Annual Contest, 2005; First Place, education, Royal Palm Literary Award, 2004; Best in Division, Georgia Author of the Year Awards, 2005; Finalist, Best Books 2005, USA BookNews Third Place, nonfiction, Georgia Writers, 1999; Nominated for Georgia Author of the Year, 1998; plus many other awards

Past/Present Clients
Capital Books, Sourcebooks, Olin Frederick, The Writer's Machine, Russell Dean & Company, Outskirts Press, and hundreds of writers.

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