Saturday, May 8, 2010

"The Final Page" Tip of the Week: What to put on a copyright page

"The Final Page" column provides a weekly tip for avoiding common self-publishing mistakes. A professional final product makes the difference between being reviewed on The New Podler, or being one of the millions of books that sink through Amazon's sales rankings to languish below the 4-million mark.

Why do you need a copyright page?
Besides legally protecting your intellectual property from piracy, the copyright page contains important information about your book as a product. It says when it was published and by whom, where librarians should shelve it, what edition it is, and how booksellers can order copies (i.e., the ISBN).

Although indie authors are much more savvy these days, I'm surprised by how many leave this piece out.

What goes on a copyright page?
There are seven components to a basic page, and a few optional ones. Let's start with the necessities.
  1. The publisher's name and address (either URL or snail mail). Even if you are your own publisher, you may have a name for your publishing venture, or may wish to list Lulu or Amazon's Createspace as the publisher.
  2. Book title
  3. Author name
  4. ISBN. See Bowker's website for more info on this essential 13-digit book identifier. The only reasons you wouldn't need to purchase an ISBN number from Bowker are: (a) you are already working with a publisher who provides one, or (b) you obtain a free one as part of your Lulu, Createspace, or Smashwords publishing package.
  5. "Copyright © [year] [your name]. All rights reserved."
  6. "First edition [year]."
  7. Rights statement, which might read like this: "No portion of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means, translated, transmitted, or stored in any information retrieval system existing or hereafter invented, without the written permission of the author."
You can also include these optional items.
  1. Library of Congress control number. Actually, you won't be able to get one of these if you are self-published, but the equivalent is a Cataloging in Publication (CIP) number. It tells librarians where to shelve your book. Read more here.
  2. The titles of your other books
  3. Your URL, Facebook, or Twitter profile.
Where can I see an example?
For examples of copyright pages, select "Copyright" on any book for which offers the "Look Inside" feature.

Is that all I need to do?
All printed works are automatically copyrighted under U.S. intellectual property law. You may use the copyright symbol in the book when you publish it, and register it within three months of first publication to secure all the legal advantages of an officially registered work. To apply, file copyright form TX, which you can print with detailed instructions here. (And I gotta say it: I'm not a lawyer, so double-check my information before calling the job done.)

Sarah Cypher is the author of "The Editor's Lexicon: Essential Writing Terms for Novelists" (Glyd-Evans Press, 2010) and is a freelance editor with The Threepenny Editor.

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