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How to Copyright a Book and Why It's a Good Idea

March 17, 2021 (Last Updated July 05, 2022)

48 Hour Books

Many writers ask us hesitantly, “Do I need to copyright my book?” The answer is yes. This may scare many writers but learning how to get a book copyrighted doesn't have to be a daunting process. Thankfully, it’s really not that complicated. There are many common questions authors have about how to copyright a book.  Let’s walk through them.

Commonly Asked Questions About Copyrighting

Why Should I Copyright My Book?

Copyrighting protects you from others stealing your work, passing it off as their own and making a profit. By copyrighting your book, you take control of your own words and how they are used. Copyrighting is a form of intellectual property, where you’re able to lay claim to your original work.

Applying for copyright protection is not difficult or expensive, and the protection it offers is important. Your book should be protected from those who might seek to wrongfully take credit for your creative efforts.

Isn’t My Work Automatically Protected by Copyright Law?

Technically, your work is copyrighted the moment you produce it. That can be a rough draft, written manuscript or typed on any device. It does not need formal registration with the copyright office to be copyrighted automatically.

For this reason, some assume it isn’t necessary to legally copyright their book. There are even those who suggest what is known as “poor man’s copyright,” that is, mailing themselves a copy of their manuscript in a postmarked envelope. The assumption is this unopened, dated envelope will serve in a court of law should anyone try to sell your book. Unfortunately, that’s simply not true. If you want legal protection for your book, you need a legal copyright.

By officially copyrighting your work, you’re ensuring you can take legal action should someone try to copy it. Since it’s easy to do and inexpensive, it is well worth the effort, particularly if you plan on selling your book.

How Do I Copyright a Book?

·      Figuring out how to copyright a story is easy. Go to the U.S. Copyright Office website and register online. Follow these simple steps: Go to copyright.gov/

·      Select Register a Copyright, which takes you to the Registration Portal

·      Select “Log in to the Electronic Copyright Office Registration System”

·      Create an account and complete the registration form

·      Send in an electronic copy of your work

If you have questions, more info can be found under “Registration Processing Time and FAQs” in the Registration Portal. As always, we’re happy to help self-publishing authors at 48 Hour Books. If you have questions, you can also contact our customer service representatives.

How Much Does It Cost to Copyright a Book?

There are a few variables, but copyrighting a book usually costs around $60.

How Long Does It Take to Copyright a Book?

The time to copyright a book may vary, but web processing usually takes approximately seven months. Mail application takes approximately nine months. We are often asked if you can print books even if your copyright registration has not been completed and the answer is yes.

How Long Does a Copyright Last?

A copyright lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years.

Does copyright protect my eBook?

Yes, copyright protection does cover eBooks. This is another important benefit covered by applying for a copyright. With the use of digital formats, it’s even easier for unscrupulous people to copy and try to sell someone else’s work. A copyright cannot stop this type of behavior, but it does allow you to have legal protection if someone steals your work and tries to make a profit.

Can I Publish my book without a copyright?

You can print your book without applying for a legal copyright. However, particularly if you plan to sell your book, it’s a good idea to get the legal copyright protection. Unfortunately, it is too easy for people to use others’ work and pass it off as their own. You would not want to give someone else this opportunity, particularly when legal copyrights are simple and inexpensive to obtain.

What Is the Difference Between a Copyright and an ISBN?

While a copyright protects you work from being stolen and used for profit, your ISBN allows you to sell your work – either online or in stores. An ISBN is a unique number used to identify a specific book.  

With some publishers or printers, they own your ISBN. At 48 Hour Books, we make it easy by offering to purchase your ISBN as part of your printing job, but you are the owner. We offer more information on ISBN numbers here.

Where Do I Place My Copyright Information in My Book?

Copyright information commonly goes in the front matter of a book (most often on the back of the title page) and includes the copyright notice, year and other information, such as the ISBN. For help formatting a copyright page, talk to the customer service representatives at 48 Hour Books. We are happy to help you ensure all the information you need is included.


Copyrighting Your Work Makes Sense

You’ve put your heart and soul into your work. Now that you’re ready to print, take the extra step and apply for copyright protection. If you have more questions about copyrighting your book, 48 Hour Books is ready to help.

Supporting self-publishing authors is what we do. We know that the process can seem complicated, but it doesn’t have to be! We’re ready with resources like book templates, cover design options and our friendly, knowledgeable staff .


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Sign up for the 48 Hour Books newsletter to learn how to self-publish your book — and get it printed faster with us than anywhere else.

Print painlessly

Sign up for the 48 Hour Books newsletter to learn how to self-publish your book — and get it printed faster with us than anywhere else.


Gertie M Barber August 05, 2023

I am looking forward to publishing my second book. Please send me the necessary information to get started.

48 Hr Books August 06, 2023

Hi Gertie! We recommend ordering a copy of our free Ultimate Guide sample book. It contains information on how to use our services, along with self-publishing basics and paper and cover samples: https://www.48hrbooks.com/ultimate-guide. You can also call us at 800-231-0521 to speak with us and ask your questions!

Mary Shortridge November 20, 2022

I have made drawings that I would like to publish on a coloring book format. Can you help with this? How do I print my coloring book?

48 Hr Books November 21, 2022

Hi Mary! We require print-ready PDF files of your inside pages and book cover to print your coloring book. You would need to put your drawings in a file format to do this. If you need help preparing your files, please call us at 800-231-0521 and we will connect you with a designer to help you do this! Here are some tips specific to coloring book printing: https://www.48hrbooks.com/blog/126/how-to-publish-a-coloring-book

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