Should you copyright your book before publishing it on Kindle? This would be a no-brainer if you were selling a hard copy or sending it to literary agents because you obviously have to. However, this falls into a gray area with Kindle. The simple answer is no, you don’t have to copyright your book. There will be electronic signature of your book being initially published through Kindle, which will show that you are the copyright owner. But, it’s not always that easy. Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages to see if copyrighting is a good idea, if not essential.
Copyright notices are incredibly cheap. You can get one for about $35 and very minimal work. Just go to the Copyright Office website, upload your creative work, enter some basic information like your name and address and pay for the copyright. Then you just have to wait for the copyright to be accepted and the notice to be mailed to you.
This will ensure that the copyright is actually in the Library of Congress, which offers you the best protection. Instead of forcing lawyers to go through electronic signatures and getting Amazon involved (which would happen if a case like this were brought to court and didn’t have a traditional copyright), you could use your copyright as evidence to show that you are the owner of the creative work.
The reason for a copyright is your protection. It’s to show that you own the work, and that no one else can publish or use it without your permission. This can become murky and somewhat difficult with a copyright from Kindle, because the court might view it as subjective. There are relatively few cases where this has become an issue because plagiarism is fairly rare, but you’ll have more hoops to jump through.
Not only that, but the plagiarist can make the case that you stole the original work from him or her. Since there isn’t a traditional copyright notice, it can be harder for the court to come to a decision. This is especially true if someone takes your Kindle work and then publishes it on Kindle under his or her name later with a different title.
The technical truth is that you are the copyright owner as soon as you started writing your book. No one can steal your ideas and words. When you go to court, it’s not about showing that you created the book, it’s about proving that you are the copyright holder. Having a document in the Library of Congress is irrefutable proof that you own the copyright.
Check out this cool flowchart that walks you through the copyright process (to see it full size, click HERE):
While copyright notices don’t cost much money, some people might find it hard to part with $35. If you really are on a shoestring budget, then you might want to forego the copyright notice. Another thing to consider is the investment. The common Amazon book only makes about $100 to $200 without any major marketing. If you aren’t willing to push your book towards the top, then putting this money into it will cut your profit by about 15-30%.
Another disadvantage is that it takes about two to three months on average (sometimes longer) to receive the copyright. You can usually publish on Kindle during this time because the case number should be the same as the copyright number, but it might be safer to wait. If you prefer taking the safe route, then you’ll have to delay your book’s publishing date by a few months.
Copyright theft is incredibly rare when it comes to Kindle and other electronic books. Not only that, but most of these cases don’t even go to court. You’ll tell Amazon that someone stole your book, fill out some paperwork and they’ll remove the stolen book within a few weeks or months (you might be able to speed up the process by calling Amazon). Every author is scared to death of his or her book being stolen, but it happens much less frequently than you think.
Do you really need a copyright? No, you can immediately publish your book on Kindle without wasting your time and money. This might also be the easiest and best way to do it if you’re just having fun and don’t plan on marketing the book. If you plan on making big money with the book, investing time and money into it and making it a huge hit, then getting a copyright couldn’t hurt. If someone does try to steal your work, then it will make things much easier for you.
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