How can authors copyright their work?


By Carol Harblin and Patrick Walsh

In this article we explain how to copyright your work. Protect your manuscript and provide official legal links to help you do this.

I was at a writer’s conference a couple years ago in New York City and I questioned one of the speakers about copyrighting.  They quickly spat out, “copyright dot gov,” as I scribbled in my notebook.  I also learned that titles cannot be copyrighted.  Your copy, yes, but not titles. That makes sense because I could see three titles before me on a shelf but the content and context is completely different.   

I could be at a bookstore in India and see a title “Life Water” then go to the United States bookstore and see a title “Life Water” but the subject matter of these books differs greatly. One book is a self-help book and the other book is a science-fiction about human beings protecting the water source.  Titles have multiple meanings within different contexts.  We’ve seen movies with the same titles, too.   

It is a good idea to copyright your manuscript before sending it off to an agent. This will give you peace of mind that your words are protected.  Then if you find out your story has been copied you have every right to sue. 

Copyrighting is an author’s type of SYB insurance.  What’s SYB insurance?  It is there to Save Your Butt and allows you to have the rights to your work.  It prevents other people from copying what you put your heart and soul into your work.  It states that the manuscript that is saved in your flash drive is yours.  It states that you are claiming your ideas and thoughts are yours – and nobody can copy it from you.  

Many agents like to see that writers’ manuscripts are copyrighted. It offers agents protection and legal recourse if someone plagiarises your work. 

The two URL links to save and bookmark in your computer are:  for the U.S. is:  https://www.copyright.gov/registration/  and in UK: https://www.gov.uk/copyright – both are legitimate government sites that protects your work from getting stolen from others.   

Save your butt and save the links.

  • Blanche Springer

    I\'ve recently created a website and completed my debut romantic novel. I would appreciate advice on how to obtain a copyright and if there is any cost involved, before submitting my work to agents. Thank you.