The copyright page of a book is often seen as a nebulous array of text and numbers. And, if you’re an independent author, trying to determine what to include and what to omit can be downright confusing.
Have no fear! Softpress is here to save the day and explain everything you need to know about creating the perfect copyright page for your book.
Disclaimer: None of the information included in this post is meant to be legal advice. You should seek qualified legal counsel should you need assistance.
In all truth, there are only 2 things you need to include on a copyright page. The first is the copyright notice itself. This notice includes the symbol © or the word “Copyright” (sometimes both), the year of publication, and the copyright holder. It should read something like this:
Copyright © 2018, William Parker
Note that the last part can be the author name (as shown above), a company name, or even your pen name. Whoever, or whatever entity, holds the copyright should be in this position. Note that if using a pen name (pseudonym) on the copyright page, you should include your real name as well when registering your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office.
The second thing you must include is a notice that no part of the book can be reproduced except by the copyright holder. This can be a simple note such as:
All Rights Reserved.
Of course, you can elaborate on this second part by including a paragraph explaining to the reader exactly what is allowed, and what is not, in terms of reproducing the contents of the book. This is not strictly required, but highly advisable. Here’s one example of what this paragraph may look like:
No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, 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.
So, your most basic copyright page may appear as follows:But, what about all the other data you see on copyright pages? While not required, there are a host of other items that can, and probably should be, included on your copyright page. Let’s explore those in more detail.
Including the publisher’s information makes it easy for someone to contact the publisher for permission to reproduce certain portions of the book, report errors, request bulk copies, or seek more information about the book or author. My publisher information looks like this:
4118 Hickory Crossroads Road
Kenly, NC 27542
If you are acting as your own publisher, include the business name you operate under or your own name. Additionally, you can include your company web address and contact email.
While the above may suffice for the majority of authors, if you offer special discounts for bulk orders of your book, you may wish to include a short paragraph explaining this:
For information about discounts on bulk purchases, educational copies, or sales promotions, please contact XYZ Publishing sales department at 1-800-555-1212 or email@example.com
If this is a book you may update in the future, you’ll want to include the edition number. This is especially true if this is not the first edition of the book.
Legal disclaimers are becoming much more common these days since we live in an era where society seeks to sue someone at any opportunity. In fact, it’s why I included the disclaimer at the top of this post.
Disclaimers should definitely be included on your copyright page if your book topic is on health, investing, or taxes to name but a few. The best place to find legal disclaimers is in books of the same genre as yours that were published by a major company such as Penguin or Thomas Nelson. Here are a couple of examples for books Softpress has published:
This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is sold with the understanding that the publisher nor the authors are engaged in rendering medical or other professional services. If you require medical advice or other expert assistance, you should seek the services of a competent professional.
This book is not intended to be a substitute for the medical advice of physicians. The reader should consult a physician in matters relating to his/her health and particularly with respect to any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention.
Additional disclaimers may be warranted if you are referencing content from third-party sources such as websites. Here’s a disclaimer Softpress used for such a book:
While the authors have made every attempt to provide accurate internet addresses at the time of publication, neither the publisher nor the authors assume any responsibility for errors or for changes that occur after publication. Further, the publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for the authors or third-party Web sites or their content.
Is your book a work of fiction? Consider adding this disclaimer:
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Acknowledge Credit to Contributors
It’s always a good idea to include contributors that helped create your book. This can include editors, cover designers, layout and/or formatting designers, illustrators, photographers, etc. Here’s an example:
Cover Designer: J.M Perry
Illustrator: Jason Ford, Ford Designs, LLC.
Layout and Formatting by: Jonathan Doe
Editing by: EditSquad, Inc.
International Standard Book Number (ISBN)
Virtually every book I have seen includes an ISBN number. The exception would be digital books which don’t require an ISBN. At least, not yet. Other exceptions would be print books that were never intended to be sold such as a cookbook of your grandmother’s favorite recipes.
Because I have already written about ISBNs in previous posts, I won’t go into them in depth here. However, I firmly believe you should include the ISBN for your book on the copyright page if you intend to sell it.
I always include the 10-digit and 13-digit ISBN for every book I publish. This helps librarians and distributors, among others, easily identify the book they are looking at.
Other Information You May Include
While the above information is the typical minimum that Softpress includes on a copyright page, there are more elements to consider.
Printing Details & Trademarks
This information can include the country where the book is printed as well as a disclosure of any trademarks held for names, logos, or imprints included within the book. Is the book environmentally friendly? What font(s) were used? Here’s an example:
Printed in the United States of America using soy-based ink on recycled paper. The scroll and quill logo is a trademark of Softpress Publishing, LLC. This book is typeset in Ghandi Serif. First Printing, 2018
Your Author Information
You may have included your publishing company website under the publisher’s information above. However, if you have a separate author website, definitely include it near the bottom of the copyright page. Additionally, if you have a blog or website specific to the book, include those links as well.
If you’re at all familiar with books, I’m sure you’ve seen a long line of numbers on a copyright page and wondered what the heck they mean. In simple terms, these numbers represent the printing number or print run (sometimes the year) of the book. They are mainly there for the publisher’s production department. While there seems to be no logic in their order, the smallest number in the list is the print number for the book you are looking at. For example, if the smallest number is “3,” then that’s the third printing of that edition. With the advent of digital printing, these numbers will likely become extinct.
CIP Data Block
CIP stands for “Catalog-In-Publication” and is created by and issued to publishing companies by The Library of Congress. It’s not something you can create yourself, and, as a self-publisher, you aren’t eligible to receive one.
The main purpose of a CIP block is for librarians to use in easily cataloging your book in the library. Therefore, if you are planning to market your book specifically to libraries, there’s really no reason to have this information on your Copyright page.
If however, you are planning to market to libraries and desire a CIP block, you can have one created by CIPblock.com for $60. Here’s an example from their site:
Names: Buckley, Keith, author.
Title: Scale: a novel / by Keith Buckley.
Description: First trade paperback original edition. | A Barnacle Book. | New York ; Los Angeles : Rare Bird Books, 2015.
Identifiers: ISBN 978-1-940207-99-5 | LCCN 2015009927
Subjects: Musicians–Fiction. | Bands (Music)–Fiction. | Rock music–Fiction. | Family-–Fiction. | BISAC : FICTION / Literary. |
Classification: LCC PS3602.U2624 S33 2015 | DDC 813.6—dc23
Putting it all together
Now that you have all the information you need for your copyright page, here’s a look at what it will look like once it’s all assembled:
I trust the above information has given you everything you need to know to now create your own copyright page. You should understand that your copyright is actually effective from the moment you create the content, not once the copyright page is created. For more information on copyright law, read my article US Copyright Law for Authors: What you need to know. Need additional help or assistance? Drop me a note in the comments below, and I’ll be glad to help.
Lastly, while not required, if you desire to register your book with the U.S. Copyright Office, you can do so by visiting their site here: Copyright.gov. There’s a great FAQ list that explains more about registering and the added benefits of doing so. Authors outside the US will need to check with their own country’s copyright laws and practices.