In their Author Newsletter (posted 9/30/2018), Booklocker.com announced they’ll file your copyright registration form for you for only $99.
That’s compared with LegalZoom ($169), AuthorHouse and iUniverse ($170), Xulon Press and Mill City Press ($199), Balboa Press ($204), Xlibris ($249) and a host of others charging even more exorbitant prices.
The others they listed include InfinityPublishing/FastPencil, Trafford.com, Westbow Press, and Lulu. The one outfit to avoid that they did not mention is Wheatmark.
ALL OF THE ABOVE are subsidy publishers, meaning they will publish your work if you pay them an exorbitant up-front fee. Many, if not all, also require a royalty split. Not one of them tells you that you can do for yourself, at NO COST, everything they offer.
For just one example, according to a document I found on Scribd published by a Wheatmark author, Wheatmark offers “An arrangement with Amazon that allows Amazon to oﬀer steep discounts.”
I’m sure they do. It’s called KDP Select. What they don’t tell you is that ANY author who wants to go exclusive with Amazon (thereby forgoing sales through any other venues, including your own website) can take advantage of KDP Select. Free.
But back to the Booklocker.com Author Newsletter.
The problem is, registering your copyright through the copyright office yourself costs only “$35 if you register one work, not made for hire, and you are the only author and claimant. To access electronic registration, go to the Copyright Office’s website at www.copyright.gov.”
To see this for yourself, download Circular 4 Copyright Office Fees (PDF) by clicking https://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ04.pdf.
Booklocker.com asks, “Why is copyright registration so important?” Then they answer that with four points, the first of which is misleading at best:
1. If someone steals your work, or portions thereof, you can’t file a lawsuit unless your book was copyrighted before the infringement occurred.
That’s true enough. BUT YOUR WORK IS COPYRIGHTED the moment it’s set in fixed form (the moment you finish your manuscript) whether or not you choose to register that work with the US Copyright Office.
In other words, owning your copyright and registering your copyright are two different things.
Booklocker.com adds that if you use their service, “For two or more titles, multiply your number of titles x the $99 fee, and enter it in the order form at the link above. Paperbacks and hardcovers are considered different titles.” (Emphasis added.)
Folks, paperbacks and hardcovers (and ebooks and audio books) are considered different titles for ISBN assignment, but NOT for copyright registration.
When you file a copyright registration, you’re registering the work itself, not any particular form of the work.
Please, please, please don’t be taken in by this scam.
In fact, I strongly recommend you stay away from ANY so-called publishing company that charges you an up-front fee to publish your work, whether or not they also require a royalty split. (The last time I checked, Booklocker.com does both.)
Note: This warning is only against working with subsidy publishing companies. Many independent authors hire out copyediting, formatting, book cover design, etc. to legitimate service providers. But those service providers are not publishers. They require a one-time fee for services rendered, and they don’t take a royalty split or otherwise own any part of your copyright.
Be careful out there.
Until next time, happy writing and publishing.
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