How to Copyright & Self Publish a Book

Nowadays, anyone can write a book and easily self-publish it. In the past, printing processes and costs prohibited small runs of books, so self-publishing was difficult and expensive. But with the advances in technology, not to mention e-books, self-publishing, as well as copyrighting your book, can be done in a few simple steps.

Step 1

Research print-on-demand companies. Print-on-demand (POD) companies do just that --- print on demand. This means as books are purchased, the company prints them. You'll want to decide if you want to incur the cost of printing books or if you will publish your book solely as an e-book. If you prefer to just release a digital copy, skip this step. Inquire ahead of time about the fees and services POD printers offer.

Step 2

Decide on a size for your book. The POD company you choose will provide a list of acceptable print sizes based on their print equipment. Once you've decided on the size, format your book document to the correct size, adjusting margins as needed. You'll also want to add in page numbers and chapter headings if you have not done so already. Convert the formatted document into a PDF file.

Step 3

Design a cover. If you are not artistically inclined and you would like an artistic cover, you can hire a freelance graphic designer to design the cover for you. If you prefer to do it yourself, keep in mind that photography or images taken from the Internet are protected by their own copyright laws and cannot be used without permission, unless they are from stock photography sites and you purchase the correct rights.

Step 4

Consider purchasing an ISBN for your book. If there is any chance your book will be sold at bookstores or online through websites such as Amazon, it needs an ISBN, which is the bar code surrounded by numbers usually found on the back cover. You can purchase an ISBN from some POD companies, but it is just as easy to do it yourself by directly contacting one of the 160 ISBN agencies throughout the world.

Step 5

Add the cover file, in PDF format, to the book and send it to press. The POD company you select will take your files and print a proof of your book. When you get the proof you will be able to review it one last time before it goes to press. If you need to replace the cover or any of the inside pages, you can do so at this time, however, there are usually fees associated with replacing pages at this stage.

Step 6

Apply for a copyright. Your book is protected by copyright laws from the minute you write it, but for added protection against theft, you can file for an official copyright through the U.S. Copyright Office. It is not necessary for the book to be published for you to apply for a copyright. However, if you receive a copyright for an unpublished manuscript that later gets published, you must apply for a second copyright for the published work.