I mentioned in my previous post that I was cheating on non-fiction with fiction. And when I say I got a bit immersed in my fiction, it wasn’t just writing. A lot of time goes into research, including checking the plausibility of story events, looking into the credibility of competitions, exercising logline writing skills and more.
One of the first areas you need to be savvy about to is copyright basics and I’m happy to share my findings. If you are already familiar with these, great. If not, let’s go through the points together:
– Your created work is automatically copyrighted and it’s yours. And in theory, even the date of document on your computer can prove your ownership, should you ever have to go to court. That said, this gives me (and many other writers, I can assume) as much peace of mind as pushing the save button repeatedly on the word processor during writing.
In addition to abusing the save button, I tend to email myself copies of my updated stories as frequently as possible, keep copies on USB drives and print them out. I don’t mind the extra “work” as it helps me sleep better at night.
So copyrighting your baby for 20 or 35 bucks doesn’t seem too big a price to pay. However I do recommend copyrighting the finished work.
– Most recommended registry options are WGA and US Copyright Office. Writers Guild of America allows you to register fully developed concepts and treatments and such, in addition to manuscripts and screenplays. It’s very easy, doable online and it costs 20 bucks. It protects copyrights for 5 years, and than it’s up to you to renew it (as well as to remember when the copyright registration expires.)
– US Copyright Office protects it for your lifetime, plus several more decades so it makes more sense to shed the extra bucks. I registered my synopsis for a story with the WGA, but I’ll probably register the full script with the US Copyright Office.
– As long as your country has signed a copyright treaty with the US, your copyright is protected internationally once you register with WGA or US Copyright office. If you are planning to publish internationally, or in the States, registering here makes a lot of sense.
– It’s not OK to put your registration number or a copyright mark or anything like that on your manuscripts when you are submitting to agents, publishers and editors. It comes off as amateurish and they don’t appreciate it. They’ll have enough areas to critique you. Don’t make sure you make a negative impression from the get-go.
So this is it. I hope it was helpful. If you have any questions, fire away in the comments. And happy writing!
P.S. The title says “fiction” because I happened to be writing fiction at the time, but obviously same tips apply for non-fiction writers when it comes to their manuscripts.