Now, a brief word on copyright. The law does not require authors to pay for (or even register) their copyrights. Full copyright protection comes automatically when you write anything. So don’t let anyone charge you for that copyright. Just make sure your manuscript has that all-important symbol: Copyright ©Your Name and Year of Publication. It goes on the second page, the reverse of your title. That’s it. That’s all you really have to do.
It is possible, however, to register your copyright with the Library of Congress, if you so desire. Having the copyright registered provides an additional degree of protection if your book should ever end up in a court of law. For example, if someone plagiarizes your work and passes it off as his own, it may help to be able to point to the date on which you registered the copyright. You’ll have to decide for yourself if the registration fees are worth it.
I didn’t think it was, until my book started to gain national attention and the ﬁrst screen writer came snifﬁng around my copyright set-up. Then I learned that $35.00 was a cheap safeguard, particularly when I compared it to what a successful screen version of the book might earn. It is now possible to ﬁle your registration online and then mail in a copy of the book to complete the process. I say, do it.
You will deﬁnitely want to obtain a Library of Congress cataloging number, which guarantees that your book will be included in the Library of Congress catalog for all time. Librarians also want to see an LCCN so they know how to enter the book into their own cataloguing system. The publisher must send the ﬁrst copy of the completed book to the Library of Congress, where someone will record all the necessary data describing the book and create an original catalog entry. Your production company should take care of that for you, although they may charge you a fee. Then the production company adds the assigned number to all copies of the book.
Portions of the above blog have been taken from my book, "The Second Mouse Gets the Cheese: How to Avoid the Traps of Self-Publishing," available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple iBooks, and Smashwords.com.