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I'm about to get an editor and submit my full book to a publisher.

I had my book notarized. Then I put it in a large orange envelope and mailed it to myself so the UPS could put a date stamp on it.

Is this enough? Should I do more? What other low-budget copyright methods can I use?

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    This depends heavily on where in the world you're located – CLockeWork Jan 13 '15 at 14:37
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    There are parts of the world where mailing yourself the manuscript will provide some protection, but the US isn't one of them. Registering the copyright will help if you end up in court. – Goodbye Stack Exchange Jan 13 '15 at 18:35
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Neither of those things will really do anything to provide you with any protection in a court of law. As far as a "low-budget" copyright method, the only thing you need to do is add the following line to the bottom of your manuscript:

Copyright 2015, Author Name

It's just as simple as that. Make sure that you have a copy for yourself before you send it off to the publisher. I see a lot of people who are worried that a publisher is going to steal their manuscript or take away their copyright. Believe me, they will make their money if they decide they like your book, so they will have no desire to steal away your copyright. If you are truly concerned about protecting your work, then register it with the US Copyright Office. It will only cost you about $35.

  • I agree that publishers are about the only people who'd generally have real trouble making more money by stealing your manuscript. Not only is a reputation for stealing manuscripts really bad for their business, they'd still need come up with some "fake author" for the book. Who they'd presumably need to pay... Probably get a better deal with someone who really wants to get it published, like the real author... – Ville Niemi Jan 17 '15 at 18:55
  • You don't need to include "Copyright 2015, Author Name" in a work for it to fall under copyright protection. (I can't find an authoritative source at the moment, but Wikipedia backs me up and I know I've heard this elsewhere.) Sure, including a copyright notice is a very good thing to do for several reasons, but it's not a requirement. – David Z Jan 18 '15 at 4:23
  • It is true that a copyright notice is not required. I simply stated that because I assumed the OP was looking for some means to stake an "official" claim to his copyright, and posting a copyright notice is the easiest way to do so. – Steven Drennon Jan 18 '15 at 6:08
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I am not a lawyer. But according to copyright.gov, in the US, once you create a work, you have copyright protection. But you can register your copyright for added protection.

When is my work protected?

Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.

Do I have to register with your office to be protected?

No. In general, registration is voluntary. Copyright exists from the moment the work is created. You will have to register, however, if you wish to bring a lawsuit for infringement of a U.S. work. See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section “Copyright Registration.”

Why should I register my work if copyright protection is automatic?

Registration is recommended for a number of reasons. Many choose to register their works because they wish to have the facts of their copyright on the public record and have a certificate of registration. Registered works may be eligible for statutory damages and attorney's fees in successful litigation. Finally, if registration occurs within 5 years of publication, it is considered prima facie evidence in a court of law. See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section “Copyright Registration” and Circular 38b, Highlights of Copyright Amendments Contained in the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA), on non-U.S. works.

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