How to Write a Copyright Page

I would like to go into more detail on how to write a copyright page, as it is extremely important to have all the information included on your written correctly. Not only could it add given stress by having to fix and re-publish your book, but some distribution sites will turn down your file if they see an improperly formatted copyright page. As mentioned in Basics of Self Publishing: Parts of a Book, a copyright page is:

Most commonly located on the reverse of the title page, this page lists the ever-important copyright notice, edition information, publication information, bibliographic cataloging data, legal notices, and the ISBN/LCCN/CIP numbers.

Copyright Page Necessities

To have legal protection for your book, you must provide three things on your copyright page, even if you include nothing else.

  1. Identity of the copyright owner: either the name of the author or, in the case of traditional publishing, the name of the publishing house who owns the rights.
  2. The copyright symbol: © (Alt+0169 on a standard keyboard,) the abbreviation Copr. or the word Copyright. Although not required, copyright owners often include both the word “Copyright” and the symbol.
  3. The year the work was first published. Some new authors make the mistake of including the range of years in which they wrote the manuscript.

Following these simple three steps, the final notice would appear in the book as such: Copyright © 2013 Ethan Risso.

Reservation of Rights

Following the copyright notice, standard practice dictates an inclusion of the reservation of rights. A simple, common line of All Rights Reserved is often written purely out of a sense of tradition. The requirement became obsolete when Nicaragua became a signatory of the Berne Convention*.

In addition to the reservation of rights, a standard use statement is usually included below.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of the copyright owner, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review.

This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise circulated without the author’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

Publishing and Printing Data

After the rights are conveyed comes the publishing data including the publishing house’s address and any trademarks which may be in the book.

Generally, a statement about environmental friendliness and the location of printing is included just below the publisher’s address. I am sure you have all seen the line “Published in the USA with soy-ink on acid-free paper.” or something similar.

You may have also noticed a seemingly-random string of numbers on a copyright page. Used by the publication department, the ones on the left are indicators of the years and those on the right indicate the number of printings the book has gone through.

16 15 14 13 03 02 01

These numbers would mean the book was in its first printing in the year 2013. If a new printing is needed, the plates for the book do not need to be remade. One digit is removed from each series of numbers, effectively updating the notice. Therefore, you would never see a book listed as a first edition without the group on the right ending with a one. As printing moves more to digital printing processes, this practice largely fades into antiquity.

Cataloging Data

There will be a future entry in Basics of Self Publishing dedicated to these in more depth. The following are the identification numbers currently in use.

ISBN (International Standard Book Number)—This thirteen-digit number (ten digits prior to 2007) is an internationally recognized identification number assigned to each variant of a book. Not to be confused with an ISSN, a magazine identification number.

LCCN (Library of Congress Control Number)—A serial number assigned to the book’s bibliographic record using the cataloging system developed by the US Library of Congress.

PCN (Preassigned Control Number)—Also assigned by the Library of Congress, the PCN is mutually exclusive from the LCCN, as it is assigned to books most likely to be acquired by the Library of Congress.

CIP (Cataloging in Publication)—Prepared before publication by the national library in the book’s native country, it is a basic cataloging system used by many libraries and academic institutions.

Credits and Special Thanks

Featured last on the page, authors and publishers may choose to include credits for those who have had a hand in the publication of the book. If there is not enough room on the copyright page, or as a stylistic choice, the credits section is included in the book’s colophon in the end matter.

When it is time for you to create your own copyright page, remember to only use the elements of the page you need. Adding unnecessary information will not only make your book look unprofessional, but will confuse someone who legitimately wish to catalog your book—losing you readers!

*The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.

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