How do you protect yourself as an author when self-publishing a print book or ebook? What type of legal documents do you need? What’s a book copyright notice? These are all common questions asked by print-on-demand and other self-publishers.
Book Copyright Notice (a.k.a. Copyright Statement)
The first thing you’ll want to include in a book to protect your intellectual property is a proper copyright notice on what’s known as a “copyright page.” Don’t assume the notice you see in someone else book is the right one to include in your book.
In addition, copying the legal notice from another book can be considered infringement not fair use. If you don’t want someone stealing your book’s content, you probably shouldn’t start off your own work by “borrowing” a copyright notice.
Book Disclaimers And Disclosures
To reduce your potential liability exposure, you’ll want your book to contain certain disclaimers and disclosures.
Fiction books need less of this legal language than non-fiction books because the latter will often cover “how-to” topics involving the reader’s health or money. Here are some common topics included in a book disclaimer.
A fiction book might need to disclaim association between a character in the book and people who exist in the real world in order to avoid a defamation lawsuit. Similarly, a non-fiction
A non-fiction book might need to address the author’s medical credentials (or lack of them) and the importance of a reader seeing a medical professional before following the book’s advice about dieting and exercise.
Disclosures are equally important. For example, if you have an ebook filled with affiliate links, you’ll want your book to disclose to the reader that you have a material connection to the product or service being recommended (i.e. you’re getting paid a commission on each sale generated via the affiliate link in the ebook).
Of course, you’ll want to register the copyright for your self-published book because you’ll get extra legal protections from those who plagiarize or otherwise steal your book’s contents. In the United States, registration is easy to do at the U.S. Copyright Office (a department of the Library of Congress).
Where To Get A Copyright Notice, Book Disclaimers, and Disclosures
You can pay an experienced intellectual property attorney to prepare a customized book copyright notice and other legalese for your self-published work. If time or money is a concern, you may want to get professional grade legal forms instead.
* Note that “copyright” is frequently misspelled as “copywrite.”