Who’s afraid of the big, bad copyright page? Lots of self-publishing authors are, as it turns out. We get it. You’re not a lawyer. (Or maybe you are, in which case, congratulations on finishing your book, Counselor.) But have no fear: you don’t need to master the ins and outs of copyright law in order to protect your book. A good copyright page consists of five simple components.
(For extra credit, read this brief primer on copyright law published by the United States Copyright Office.)
The copyright notice announces to the world that you are the author of your book and protects your work from unauthorized use. Contrary to a common misconception, you do not have to register a work with the US Copyright Office in order to enjoy copyright protection. The notice itself does the trick.
To create your copyright notice, type the word “Copyright” or the © symbol, followed by the year and your name or pen name, like so: ©2018 Jane Smith.
That’s it. Your book is now protected.
Directly after the copyright notice, type the words “All rights reserved.” That magical three-word phrase is sufficient warning to potential plagiarists that you are not to be trifled with. If you would prefer to spell it out more specifically, you can write something like this:
No portion of this book may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except as permitted by US copyright law.
Or include this longer passage, as suggested by the US Copyright Office:
No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of [Your Name Here].”
Components 1 and 2 are designed to scare off lurkers who might try to steal your ideas or illegally reproduce your work. But there are times when you want people to get in touch with you. Maybe they’d like to ask permission to reprint a portion of your book on their website, order review or bulk copies, or just drop you a line. This is the place to put the name and address of your publisher, ordering information, your website address, and an email address for permissions requests. There’s no standard wording required here by law, though it’s a good idea to check in with your publisher in case they have boilerplate language they like their authors to use.
The copyright page is a great place to stash all manner of ancillary information that may not fit elsewhere. You may include any of the following on a copyright page:
Disclaimers are legal caveats that are designed to protect you, your book, and your publisher from being held liable for adverse results a reader might incur. You should place them on your copyright page if your work of nonfiction offers health, fitness, diet, or financial advice, or if your novel or memoir might be construed to invade someone’s privacy or invite a claim of defamation.
Some examples of common disclaimers are: “This is a work of fiction.” “Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.” “This is a memoir. Some names have been changed, some events have been compressed, and some dialogue has been re-created.” “This book is not meant to be used to diagnose or treat any medical condition.”
If need be, consult with an attorney about crafting a disclaimer suitable for your individual work.