For a lot of readers, it’s an dull page, checked at most for the book’s copyright date (hence the name) to see when the book was released. Because of this, it’s often placed on a left-hand page and sometimes even in smaller type, almost as if it is being hidden away.
Parts of the Copyright Page
There are several elements to the copyright page. They vary a little from publisher to publisher, and you may want to change the ways yours appears. Sometimes the information is centered, sometimes aligned to the left, sometimes stretched out to fill the whole page, sometimes tucked as close to the bottom of the page as it can be.
Usually, the book’s title and subtitle is the first text to appear on the copyright page. Some publishers have dispensed with the title because it was given on the title page, which usually was the page before.
Next is the copyright year and who owns the copyright, which typically is the author. For this book, the copyright line reads “Copyright Rob Bignell, 2023.”
The next part lists the rights. Always use “All Rights Reserved” for your self-published book. Of course, people can quote from your book and reference in their bibliographies and citations; that’s called fair use. Along with the rights usually is some kind of kind of passage limiting use of reproduction of the book. This solidifies that you’re serious about limiting your copying of your book to fair use.
And solidifying is about all the rights listing is good for. It actually holds no legal power and in fact is unnecessary – your book in the United States (and several other Western countries) already is protected by copyright law.
Novels and short story anthologies also often include a passage stating that characters and events are entirely fictitious. This is a good idea for legal purposes or someone might claim you’re libeling them by simply giving them a different name and claiming the book is fiction.
Nonfiction books often include a passage stating you bear no responsibility for advice (medical, financial, etc.) dispensed. Use this passage only if such advice is provided.
A variety of other such passages also appear in books, especially nonfiction. A good idea is to look at other books that cover similar topics, see what they use for disclaimers, and go with that wording if applicable to your book.
Next is the International Standard Book Number, aka an ISBN. This is a 13-digit number given to each book; no two books have the same ISBN. You can find it near the barcode on the book’s back cover and also on the title page.
ISBNs used to be 10 digits long, but since 2007, all are 13-digits long for new books.
To sell your book, you must have an ISBN. It’s primarily used so retailers can more easily track book inventory. The advantage to you as an author is that an ISBN allows book sellers or anyone doing an online search to quickly find your book.
If you a print a book that isn’t for sale – such as a gift for family members or as a free giveaway – you don’t need an ISBN. Should you later change your mind and decide you want to sell the book and have bookstores or online sites distribute it, you always can go back and get an ISBN.
In the Untied States, there are three ways to get an ISBN for your book:
• Buy one online from Bowker – Bowker is the official ISBN Agency for the United States and its territories. This option makes you the book’s publisher.
• Allow the self-publishing company to buy one for you – It’s free but then Kindle Direct Publishing then becomes the publisher, though it will list your book as “independently published.”
• Buy elsewhere – While the cost may be less expensive than Bowker, most self-publishing companies won’t accept these ISBNs, and so you end up buying from Bowker anyway or allowing the self-publishing company to be your publisher.
The least expensive option is to let the self-publishing company purchase an ISBN for you. Bowker sells them for $125 each, but you can buy as many as 10 for $250, at least as of this book’s publication.
You’ll need to include the ISBN in two spots on your book, First, it must be placed on your title page. Secondly, it needs to be next to the barcode that goes on your back cover. Usually you don’t need to worry about getting the ISBN on the barcode because the self-publishing company will take care of that for you.
As a final note, you typically don’t need to purchase a barcode for your book when buying an ISBN. Most self-publishing companies create the barcode for you at no expense.
If you plan to sell your book to libraries, you’ll need a Library of Congress Catalog Number, aka an LCCN.
You can order your own through the website of the Cataloging in Publication Division of the Library of Congress. The best news is that applying for an LCCN is free, so it makes sense to simply add an LCCN when you self-publish a book.
A book must be longer than 50 pages to qualify for an advance purchase of LCCN. Because of this, many children’s books usually don’t qualify.
Typically below the ISBN/LCCN goes the publisher’s name, as well as the city and state where the publisher is located. Mailing and website addresses might also be included here, though if the indie author has his or her own publishing company, a mailing address probably is your home so should dispensed with.
Next might come credits. Often other people contribute creatively to your book. If a children’s author, you probably have an illustrator who you collaborated with. Perhaps someone designed your cover. Maybe a photographer took the front and back cover photos. Possibly you had a super book formatter who made your book look even better than you thought it could. Almost certainly you had a great editor who helped you get the book to read as well as it does. If so, you would list those people here. This isn’t an acknowledgements section but a list of the who contributed and their role.
The last bit of information that goes on the copyright page is where the book was printed. As KindleDP uses multiple printing plants based on the buyer’s region (to save on shipping costs), you won’t know this but could simply state “Manufactured in the United States of America.” Usually with this is a line about which edition or print run the book comes from. This line doesn’t really apply to self-published books, but you can add “First printing (Month) (Year)” with the month and the year when it first went up for sale on Amazon.
My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.