Do you have questions about how to assemble your book’s copyright page? Here’s a breakdown of what information you should include and how you should present it.
Many self-published authors find the copyright page to be one of the more daunting and confusing pages of their front matter — and indeed the entire book — but there’s no reason to be intimidated. This post explains the elements of the copyright page so you can concentrate on the more exciting elements of self-publishing.
First things first, you do not need to register your book with the US Copyright Office to include a copyright page. Once you’ve fixed your content in a permanent format, you own the copyright and have all the rights and protections of the law. Now, there are reasons why you should register your copyright — enjoying the full weight and reach of the law if you end up in court, for one — but you can, and should, include a copyright page in your book, registered or not. (You can find more information about copyrights at the US Copyright Office website’s FAQ page.)
The copyright page is usually the verso (back) of the title page. Traditionally, the copyright page content is either centered, starting half-way down the page, or justified on the left margin. If you do an Internet search for “copyright page samples,” you’ll see a wide variety of formats employed. You can list the information in the order listed here, but I could find no single template that defines the order in which this information needs to be presented.
The copyright page can include some or all of the following information:
- Copyright notice
- Rights and permissions
- Edition information
- Design, production, editing, illustration credits
- Publisher’s address
- Ordering information
- Trademark notices
- Author website
- Country in which the book was printed
- Environmental notices
This is one absolute requirement of a copyright page. The copyright notice includes:
- The copyright symbol (©) or the word “copyright”
- The year of first copyright
- The copyright holder’s name or identifier
A typical copyright notice will look like this:
© 2019 Andre Calilhanna or Copyright 2019 Andre Calilhanna
You’ve probably seen copyright listings with multiple years, which represent the years different editions of the work were published:
© 2015, 2017, 2019 Andre Calilhanna
If you’re using a pseudonym, you can list that on your copyright page, but be sure that you include both your real name and pseudonym when registering the work with the US Copyright Office.
The International Standard Book Number, or ISBN, is a 13-digit* numeric identifier that is used worldwide by book stores, publishers, and everyone in the publishing industry. If you plan to sell your book in stores or online, you will need an ISBN, and you should include it on your copyright page.
*ISBNs assigned before 2007 had 10 digits.
When you publish your book through BookBaby, you can purchase an ISBN for your eBook and printed versions. If you prefer to purchase this directly from Bowker — the company responsible for ISBNs in the United States — you can go to ISBN.org or myidentifiers.com.
Rights and permissions
Technically, you do not need to spell out rights and permissions, as your copyright notice serves to let readers know you reserve the right to limit the use of the content as you please. That said, “fair use” means people can reprint, post online, or cite passages from your work when reviewing the book or using copy as an example for an academic argument, etc. But many publishers and self-published authors choose to include phrases like:
All rights reserved.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, contact [include publisher/author contact info].
What you include is up to you.
In an effort to protect yourself from a lawsuit if your work of fiction includes resemblances to real-life people or situations, you might include a disclaimer along the lines of:
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Nonfiction works can also include disclaimers. Memoirs, for example, may include language that suggests that some of the names have been changed to protect the identities of certain characters in the story.
And while we’re on the subject of disclaimers, we are not offering legal advice here — any legal concerns and specific language should be directed to a copyright attorney.
Whether or not the edition information is included on other pages (the title page, for instance), it should appear here. All you need is a simple line of text that states that this is the First Edition, Second Edition, Third Edition, etc. (This can also be written as 2nd Edition, 3rd Edition.)
Design, production, editing, and illustration credits
While the Acknowledgments section of your front matter can express gratitude for assistance and inspiration in the creation of your book — including listing the designers, editors, illustrators, cover designer, and various other people who contributed to the work — they may also be listed here.
Copyright pages in books published by traditional publishers will include the name of the publisher, address (sometimes just the city), and URL. If you’re self-publishing, you can include your name or create a name for your imprint along with an address and URL, if you choose.
If the book is published by a large publisher, the copyright page might also include ordering information — including specific info for quantity sales, textbooks, and orders by trade bookstores or wholesalers.
Trademark notices for names and logos of the publishing company or its imprint might be included on a copyright page.
Including your author website URL on the copyright page is a good idea, especially for self-published authors.
Country in which the book was printed
For books printed outside of the US, you should include a line that states where the book was produced (e.g. Printed in Canada). If the book was printed in the USA, you can print that as well, though not including it presumes that the book was printed in the US.
The copyright page can include statements touting the environmental consciousness of the product (e.g. Printed on SFI Certified Paper).
|Sample Copyright Page copy #1||Sample Copyright Page copy #2|
|A concise copyright page might look something like this:||A longer copyright page might look something like this:|
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