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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Bourbon

Do I Need To Copyright My Novel/Work?

The answer is NO.

But before I get into it here I just want to invite you to subscribe to my email list where I will send out freebies, information about courses, when I open for private coaching, and you will get tips and tricks before others! YES I WANT THIS

So ONTO the COPYRIGHT issue.

The other day in a massive FB group a new writer posted the question when do I need to copyright my book? And as FB is always a place for arguing it got heated so I decided that it was needed to write a quick blog about it to help you!

The answer is that you do NOT need to copyright your work.

There are many reasons.

1. No one is trying to steal your story. It's great that you think it's so perfect that lines of people are waiting for you to show it so they can steal it--this simply isn't true.

2. There are only 5 stories anyhow---in other words, there are NO NEW STORIES----so no matter what you write, someone else is either writing it now or has in the past. This is a fact.

3. You can not copyright a story idea, only the words so you will have to copyright every time you do a revision or make any changes. This will be expensive.

4. Your work is automatically copyrighted the moment you write it.

5. It's seen as amateur hour. If you submit to an agent and mention that this is copyrighted it is as if you are saying "you better not steal this" SIGH---

6. The publisher you go with will take care of this for you. Even if you self-publish unless you own your own press.

So please do NOT worry about this.

There was a woman in the FB group who was yelling at everyone claiming that her critique partners ALL took her work and published it---so if that is true she can sue them if she can prove that she sent them her work.

Now, when I tried to calm her nerves and assure her that it's not needed, she, of course, turned on me and accused me of wanting to steal her work. LOL

NO writing consultants are going to steal your work. It's completely ridiculous to even assume that or accuse someone of that and even more outlandish to suggest it in a FB group to someone who has never heard of you.

NOW--THE EXCEPTION to the copyright thing is when you enter writing contests and or fellowships they sometimes require it, especially in television. They say either copyright or registered with the WGA---that is because the stakes are much higher in film & television than they are in novels and they don't want to get sued if they already have something in the works that is like your story.

Personal experience here. When I was pitching shows to networks back in the 2000s I came up with what I thought was a brilliant idea that had never been done, in fact when I pitched it to my agent at the time, he laughed and said, "no one would watch that." Well, I went into a pitch meeting, pitched it, and found out that the exact same premise was currently being shot---you know what it was? WHITE COLLAR.

Lastly, more on the there are no new stories.

Even J.K. Rowling has been accused of taking from other stories.

THE HUNGER GAMES is almost word for word BATTLE ROYALE

It happens that people write similar things. It's okay--the reason?? IT'S YOUR VOICE!

only YOU can write in YOUR voice.

If you and I were both going to write a book about a teenage vampire slayer we would definitely write different stories and they would be different than the one that went on the air.

The two guys who wrote THE HANGOVER gave a talk at the WGA Foundation some years ago and they spoke openly about how they went to see DUDE WHERE'S MY CAR? and came out and said, "how can we make this better?" The stories are the same basically but told so differently and one is much stronger than the other.

There are always lawsuits against anyone who makes it big claiming some copyright issue and it's just not something that ever wins.

Really---please don't worry about it or do it.

As far as critique groups and beta readers, they are NOT stealing your work. They are working on their own writing and honestly are not there to take yours. It's important that you always have a crit group and show your work to others--but I'll go into that on another blog.

I hope this clears it up and helps you feel better about it!

If not, then go copyright away. I am just advising that it's not needed, but if it makes you feel better, go ahead.

One last thing, here is an article in Writer's Digest that talks about this too.

Live, Love, Create!!

XO Stephanie

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