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  • Jennifer Hart

Copyright Your Self-Published Children's Book

First, I am not a lawyer, but I know it's essential to protect your work. Copyrighting a book is relatively cheap and worth a bit of time on a clunky government website to get that protection. There are services out there that will do it for you. However, this is one of those things I think an author can learn to do until they find a publisher to do it for them. I believe in you!

Copyrighting a novel, a short story or a children's book are all similar. The application you use may vary depending on your specific circumstances.


The hardest part of copyrighting my children's book was the first step – Logging in. Go ahead and laugh. It's funny.

  1. Log in or create an account at NOTE: Their browser warnings are not suggestions, you will have trouble if you don't use their preferred browsers. I ended up having to email them because I used something else. Ooops. To use their website, you MUST use either Internet Explorer on a PC or Firefox on a MAC. You can download Firefox from here if you don't have it:


There are a handful of options to choose from in the left-hand column of the dashboard, once logged in. The "Standard Application" will work for most people. I have also used the "One Author, One Work" application. You can copyright more than one book at a time if you use the "Standard Application." Once you have clicked into the appropriate form, read through the paragraph to make sure your book fits within the requirements described. Then click "Start Application" at the top left of the screen (It's a big, italicized blue button).


These are the sections for the app. It only took me about twenty minutes to fill out. A lot of it will be repeat information because you are self-publishing.

  1. Type Of Work: Choose "Literary Works" from the drop-down and click the "Continue" button. (Another large, italicized, and blue button at the top of the screen). NOTE: Save For Later button will save your place in the application and then kick you back out to the dashboard. You can return to any part of the form by clicking the section in the left column.

  2. Titles: Click "New," then write in the name of your book, and click "Save."

  3. Publication/Completion: Has this work been published? Choose "Yes," then fill in the date. Or choose "No," if the book is unpublished and fill in the completion date.

  4. Authors and Claimants: Both of these sections will be your information if you are a self-published author.

  5. Limitation of Claim: According to the Copyright office's website, "If your work does not contain any preexisting material, click 'Continue'" So, you can skip this one unless part of your book does contain work that was previously copyrighted. If it does, then provide the registration numbers and designate which sections were already copyrighted. Then, also indicate the parts that are part of the new registration.

  6. Rights and Permissions, Correspondent, and Mail Certification: This will be the same information you entered for Authors and Claimants because you are the publisher, owner, and author.

  7. Special Handling: Skip this screen by clicking "Continue," unless one of the three reasons they list applies to you.

  8. Certification: This is essentially your signature. Verify all the info is correct before clicking the box and signing your name. They threaten you with a fee, so like most apps, it's crucial to make sure it's right. (Yet, another large, italicized, and blue button)

  9. Now, back to the dashboard where you can review the whole application in one shot before clicking "Add to Cart" on the top right of the screen.

  10. Then, you'll be guided through a series of screens to submit your payment.

  11. The last step is to either print your application and send it by mail, or to upload an electronic copy of your book online. The online option is much faster. And the Copyright Office will still mail you a copyright certificate once they have reviewed your application. If you choose to mail it, make sure to read through the requested submission information on this page, so they match up your book with the correct registration application.

I hope this was helpful. Good luck!

- Jenn


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