This topic comes up a lot when we discuss Beta Readers.
I have had the pleasure of working with fiercely loyal Beta’s who would never even think of stealing my work but if you don’t know trustworthy people who you would be comfortable giving the task, you can find Beta’s in all sorts of places including Twitters #writerscommunity.
Now these strange internet folks, probably have your best interest in mind, but just in case, here are some copyright rules:
Under U.S. copyright law, your self published work is protected as soon as you put the pen to paper. Copyright is based on your creative authorship and is not dependent on any formal agreement with a book publisher or self publishing company, although registration with the U.S. Copyright Office is beneficial.AuthorHouse.com
The thing is, you have to be able to prove the date that you created the idea and wrote the manuscript. Most word processors and computers can show you the data.
This image proves that the very first time I started this book and saved this word document was in September 2017. It doesn’t matter if I only added the heading and left it for another year, the idea is mine as of that date. This is all I need to prove my case, if necessary.
Here are some other ways to protect your work or places you can look to prove the date you created it:
- Always email (or other forms of digital messaging) when you communicate with beta’s about the work. I don’t always email the manuscript itself, but make sure there is somewhere in an email that you state you are the author, they are the reader, and the title of the work. This is time stamped and proof that you are the author.
- I’d say the same for text. You can screen shot the text discussion regarding the beta agreement and email the image to yourself. Make sure to always mention the title and what not in your communication.
- Ever share snippets or talk about your work on social media? Most social media sites have time stamps on posts. Some of your shares could prove you had the idea first.
- Enter into a contract with any one reading your work. It can be as simple as one line. I understand that this work was originally created and is owned by [AUTHOR NAME HERE]. Sign, date. The end.
- Do you use a blog? All discussions, excerpts and information shared about a title from a timestamped post, act as proof.
See where I’m going with this?? It’s all about the time stamp.
If for some reason you feel you just HAVE to get the copyright from the government, here is a link to what a literary work is as defined by the copyright office:
Also on this page there is a link to the standard application for copyright. On the right side.
Please share any other ideas you have for protecting your work, outside of hoarding it! Shoot me a comment below!