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How to Copyright a Book

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Someone recently e-mailed me asking how he could copyright a book before it’s published. Technically, even in draft form, your book is copyrighted.

Having their book stolen is one thing many novice writers worry about and yet it’s a rare occurrence. One of the best things you can do is not create a great deal of fear around the idea by worrying about it.

However, there are several simple things you can do to help protect yourself. You can place yourname ©2009 on each page of your draft or manuscript to make copyright clear to anyone reading the manuscript.

However, if someone actually did try to copy your book and you wanted to go after them, you’d need to prove that you wrote it first. How do you do that? You may want to mail yourself a copy of a draft of the manuscript, and do it again whenever you significantly edit the manuscript. Have the post office stamp the date of mailing on the seal of the envelope.  When it arrives in the mail, put it in a place you can easily find it. According to many authorities in the publishing industries, this is admissible evidence in a court of law.

While you don’t need to register your book to copyright it, you can register a work with the US Copyright Office. Now, I am a writing coach and book coach, not a lawyer, so please check with a lawyer for any specifics regarding your particular project. And feel free to check the US Copyright Office Website FAQs for answers to additional questions.

Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

Reader Interactions


    • lisatener says

      ISBN number is actually not related to copyright. You’ll have the copyright information on the back of the title page. When you put something in writing it’s copy written and you can underscore that by, whenever you share your rough manuscript, having the copyright sign at the bottom along with the year and your name.

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