Writing Books/copy right


i have written a poetry book but before i ship it somewhere to get published. i wanted to know the steps to copyrighting my book?


The simple act of putting your words down in "permanent" form (in other words, writing them down on paper) secures your copyright.

Yes, that's all there is to it.  There's no big process, no mysterious magic you have to perform.  I know a lot of poeple are afraid of their work being "stolen" by editors or publishers. But the truth is that it almost never ever happens, and in those EXTREMELY rare cases when it does, it's mostly ideas being swiped, not actual text.  Which means, for poetry, you've got nothing to worry about.

If you're a truly paranoid person, though, and want to make sure there's a way to prove that your words are, in fact, yours, here's something cheap and easy to do.  Take a copy of your work and mail it off to yourself.  When you receive it, do not open it.  Simply file it away somewhere.  The postmark on the envelope is dated evidence of when you had the material.  So if, three years later, someone publishes your work under their name, you can sue their butts and have the physical evidence to back it up.  (But again, you have a higher likelihood of being struck by lightning than this happening to you.)

Now, once a work is actually published, you might wish to REGISTER the copyright (not necessary prior to publishing) with the government.  This is very, very simple.  All you do is fill out a form, pay a small fee, and mail a couple copies of the book to the copyright office.  Full details at http://www.copyright.gov.

Writing Books

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Vincent M. Wales


I am a speculative fiction novelist (fantasy, science fiction, and so on). While I may be able to answer questions on non-fiction, my specialty is fiction. Please keep that in mind when asking questions.


For four years, I taught a series of fiction writing classes in Sacramento, CA.

BA in fiction writing.

Awards and Honors
My 2004 novel, ONE NATION UNDER GOD, won BEST FICTION in Fresh Voices 2006, BEST FICTION and BEST YA FICTION in the NCPA Book Awards, and placed as a finalist in BEST BOOKS 2005. In 2002, my novel WISH YOU WERE HERE won awards for Best Fantasy and Best Fiction/Drama in the 8th Annual SPA Awards. My latest work is a trilogy titled THE MANY DEATHS OF DYNAMISTRESS (a superhero memoir). The first book, RECKONING, was released in 2013 and won the SF category in the 2014 San Francisco Book Festival, took second place in the 2013 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards for the SF/Fantasy/Paranormal category, second place in the SF category of the 2013 Reader Views Reviewers Choice Awards, and was finalist in Foreword's 2013 Book of the Year Awards, Fantasy category. The second book, REDEMPTION, will be released in early 2015 and the final book, RENAISSANCE, is scheduled for release in late 2016.

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.