What Is Copywriting?

Being in the book publishing, and graphics industry, one comes up against copyright all the time. When you create a piece of writing or artwork that is original, specifically from your thoughts, crafted, designed and written or illustrated by you without the use of any copying methods, then you own the right to that piece of work. You are entitled to copyright it – you own the whole portion of your work, as you are the creator. You own it throughout your lifetime, plus it remains within your estate after your death, for another 50 years, at which time it will revert to public domain.

If you have written a book, you are entitled and should register the copyright of it. You automatically own copyright of your work, by the simple fact that you created it. If you are considering publishing your writing, you have to be aware of copyright.You would want to register your copyright of a piece of work, for your protection. If the work is not going to be published, but is in the initial stages, one form of ensuring copyright is to post a copy of the work to your home address, and keep the package sealed (until – if and when – it may be required to open in a court of law). The postmark and un tampered seal are proof of the original contents. If the work is a finished piece that is being published, the copyright can be added, such as on the book’s copyright page, or at the end of the document.

The Copyright Board of Canada at the following link has information from the Government of Canada that may be of help in understanding copyrights and registering a copyright. For those living in the United States, be sure to check out your copyright legislation.

When you are writing be wary of reproducing, copying or using anyone else’s text, illustrations or photographs, otherwise you will be in violation of their copyright, and you could face legal action. You must be original in all you write, unless you are specifically quoting a resource, and stating where the information came from, and creating a reference table. You may be able to use someone else’s work if you have ‘express written permission’ to do so, depending on their copyright message for the work. Even so, you will have to make reference to the usage. Make sure your characters are fictional, you can’t be writing about people you know or giving them character traits similar to your friends and family, as you may infringe on their right of privacy, which is another law unto itself (Privacy Act).

Submitting Manuscripts To Publish

When submitting your finished manuscript to publishers, it is best to research the publishers guidelines. Look for ’submissions’ or ‘author’s guidelines’. Even if they are not posted, it is best to follow the submission guidelines as listed below.

Prior to submitting: Ensure that your manuscript is in the best writing shape possible. Have it edited by a writing group, or editor. Make sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors. Read it aloud – you would be surprised how many errors you can catch this way. It is not uncommon to have greater than 10 editing drafts. If you’ve only done a couple – go back and take another look (or two, or three.. or four… you get the drift).

Read the guidelines; some publishers only request a few sample chapters depending what you are submitting. If you are submitting a children’s picture book, you can send the complete manuscript. Even if the guidelines are not listed on the publishers site, give them a phone call to find out exactly where to send your manuscript, to whose attention, and what should be included.

Even if you are submitting electronically, you can adhere to these guidelines with your manuscript:

~ Manuscript is typed on an 8 1/2″ x 11″ format, high quality white bond paper.

~ Double space manuscript text.

~ Margins should be 1 to 1 1/2 inches on top, bottom and left and right hand sides.

~ When submitting by post, ensure you print letter quality printouts – replace your ink cartridge if it is printing faint letters.

~ Sometimes the guidelines will request a cd, the file should be saved formatted as above.

Submit the manuscript with a Title Page:

~ Type your name, address, phone, and email address in the upper left corner.

~ Type your word count (rounded to nearest 10 – 25 words), number of pages (excluding title page) in the upper right hand corner.

~ Type your title centered about 5 inches from the top of the page, two lines below it, type your name (byline).

Content Pages:

~ Use a common font, such as Arial, Times, or Times New Roman, with a size of 11 or 12 pt.

~ On the content pages following your title page, type your last name and title in the upper left corner of each page.

~ Type the page number in the upper right corner of each page.

~ Or in the upper right corner you can use this format: Last Name/Title of Manuscript/Page x.

~ Chapter heading should be typed about half way down the page (about 5″).

Cover Letter:

Always include a cover letter. Make this brief, do not exceed one page. Write a small paragraph of introduction of the manuscript and yourself in a business letter format. Do not ask them to edit or comment on your manuscript. They simply don’t have time. If you are sending your manuscript by email, then the email would be your cover letter, with the manuscript attached (CHECK first – some publishers do not accept attachments). Address the cover letter to the person listed in the submission guidelines.

Mailing:

~ Do not staple your pages. Clip them together with the signed cover letter on top of the title page.

~ Mail in a 9 x 12 (or 10 x 13) envelope (manila colour is good).

~ Include a #10, SASE, if you only wish a reply by letter. If you want your complete manuscript returned, enclose the same sized envelope (e.g. 9 x 12) with sufficient postage for return.

~ Do not send by registered mail. Use regular, priority or first class mail.

We will go more in depth on email submission in another post. The important thing to remember when submitting a manuscript is that you want to appear professional, knowledgeable, and as an experienced author. Come off sounding cheesy and amateurish and your manuscript won’t be read as they will figure you are an incompetent writer.