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Copyright: What Authors Need to Know

You’ve finished writing your book! Now you’re in the thick of publishing. While your manuscript is original and fixed work, and automatically considered copyrighted by you under U.S. copyright law, you should protect your creative works. In the United States, we recommend registering your book with the U.S Library of Congress and the U.S. Copyright Office. It is important to know what resources are available and what you are capable of as an author.

Why it Matters:

Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN)

By registering with the U.S. Library of Congress, you will be given a Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN). It will be used to catalog your book in national databases like educational systems and libraries. Your title would have a chance of appearing in a database search.

Request an LCCN prior to publishing your book. A Preassigned Control Number (PCN) can be obtained to assign LCCNs in advance of publication to titles the Library of Congress will most likely add to their collection. You will be obligated to send a copy of your book once it is published in order to keep the LCCN that was provided in advance. They will want the best edition physical copy of your book.

Copyright

As mentioned above, U.S. copyright law protects works that are original and fixed. This means that your work must be unique and tangible, either physically or digitally. By registering for copyright of your book, you are able to reproduce the work, make derivative works, publicly distribute, perform, and display the work, and publicly perform a digital sound recording. 

Obtaining formal protection of your creative works is beneficial in proving that you were the original owner and first person to create it. As an author, you’ll want to have proper documentation of when you created your book in case anyone challenges it. Before potential infringement occurs, you’ll want to have your book registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. This will allow you to file a lawsuit should anyone assert your work is theirs and recover money in such case.

How to Register:

Now that you have a better idea of what the Library of Congress and copyright offers, here’s what you should know about actually registering your book. 

Register for a PCN/LCCN here. There is no fee, but don’t forget that you’ll have to send a copy of your book immediately upon publication. Usually requests are processed within 1 to 2 weeks. 

Register for copyright here. A copyright can be registered at any time, but the sooner you do it, the better. By requesting about 3 months prior to publication or before any infringement occurs, you have a higher chance of protecting the ownership of your book. 

The standard fee for electronic registration is $65. Registering online is recommended since you will want to register before your book is published. An electronic copy of your book can be submitted, but you will still need to send a best edition physical copy of your book to the Library of Congress as mentioned above. However, if you are submitting your copyright claim after publication, you need to send a physical copy to the Copyright Office that will not be returned.

When you register your book with the Library of Congress and the U.S. Copyright Office, you can rest assured your work is legally protected.  For more resources and education about the writing, self-publishing, and book promotion process, become a member of our Soulful Author Journey where you will be coached by professionals on forging your journey to authorship. 

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