To copyright or not to copyright? That’s the question every author ponders.

Your manuscript is finished. You put blood sweat and tears into the work. Now you’re ready to send it off to a copy editor or proofreader.

When I told one of  my clients she needed to hire a professional copy editor and proofreader to get a clean final draft of her book, she immediately got nervous. She wondered if the editor or proofreader was going to steal her work if it didn’t have a registered copyright.

 You can register an unpublished manuscript but should you?

I don’t recommend it. For one thing, you would be registering a work in progress, not a final product. Later on, if you needed to defend your ownership, you’d have to register a copy of the final book as well.

This seems like a waste of time, money and energy. It will take several months to receive your copyright and by that time, you will have published your book, especially if you sign up for one of my programs!

Your manuscript is copyrighted under US. Copyright law as soon as you write it down.

According to, registration is voluntary. Copyright exists from the moment the work is created. You will have to register a copyright, however, if you wish to bring a lawsuit for infringement of a U.S. work.

Reputable copywriters and editors are not going to risk their reputation by stealing your work

Their livelihood depends on getting submissions from many different writers.  Why would they jeopardize all of their future payments by pretending your work belongs to them? If you do your due diligence in selecting a good editor and proofreader, you will have nothing to worry about.

What’s a reason you should copyright your book?

As mentioned above, the advantage of going through the formal copyright process is that it provides legal proof that you own the copyright if you have to defend it in court. That’s not only if someone tries to steal your work, but if someone else accuses you of stealing their work! If that’s a concern for you, check out Five Easy Steps to Copyrighting your book

Of course books aren’t the only thing you will be producing as you build an expertise based business. You’ll have white papers, ecourses, slide presentations, videos, audio versions of your books, and many other properties. Here’s a great infographic from Visualistan on what can and can’t be copyrighted.  Enjoy!

The Long List of Things that Can’t Be Copyrighted #InfographicYou can also find more infographics at Visualistan

Linda Griffin
Linda Griffin

Linda Griffin is the author of the book, Maximum Occupancy: How Smart Innkeepers put heads in beds in every season and the founder of She is currently working on her second book, Book Smarts: The ninety day guide to writing and self-publishing for busy professionals.

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