I’ve been certified!
In yesterday’s mail, I received the official certificate from the Library Of Congress, United States Copyright Office for the short story, The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald.
I registered that story wayyyy back in September of 2013. I used the online registration, and I used it for two reasons: It’s cheaper ($35.00) than using paper registration, and it’s faster than paper registration.
And the certificates look way cool!
Always register your work with the copyright office. It protects your work, it shows that you are the author of your work, and it will show the date you registered your work. Should someone come along and claim that it’s their work, you’ll have something to show giving the date you registered the work. Unless they had access to your work before that date, there is no way that another person could have a copyright registration earlier than yours.
That brings me to another observation: Never show your unfinished work.
I don’t mean that you can’t let your spouse read what you’ve written so far. I ask Christi to read my stuff all the time. I’m talking about sharing it online, or some other place that large groups of people can see it. That only invites theft of your creative ideas. You can give a brief, general synopsis of your work…heck, I do that all the time! You can even share a sentence or two. But don’t share details, and don’t invite someone to “take a look at what I’ve written”. Unless, of course, it’s an editor.
Back to the United States Copyright Office: You also have the option of pre-registering a work. I’ve never used that, or explored how it works…I’ve just seen it on the website. I don’t see how it could work for me. I may write a couple of chapters in one story, get stuck, and go on to write something else while the first story cooks in the back of my mind for a while. I may abandon the idea altogether. So, pre-registering doesn’t work for me, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t work for you.
Here’s the link to the Copyright Office: http://www.copyright.gov/
Protect your creative work!