Guide to Writing a Book Copyright Page [With 6 Templates]

Traditional publishers will write their authors’ copyright pages.

When you choose to self-publish a book, you are not so lucky.

Fortunately, I’m here to make writing a copyright page as simple as possible.

Most self-publishers get intimidated when it comes to making their first book copyright page. I understand – the small print and legal jargon were enough to make me squeamish when I was in your shoes.

Let me ease your burden.

Below, you’ll find a copyright page template that you can copy and paste into your book.

I’ll also explain each element of a copyright page, tell you if it’s required, and provide an example of each unique element.

After reading this post, you’ll be able to quickly and confidently prepare your own book copyright pages and protect yourself and your works from book piracy.

This is part of a series of posts all about creating the different parts of a book. Check out our Master Guide here.

In this article, you will learn:
  1. What is a copyright page for?
  2. Do you need a copyright page?
  3. Free templates for eBook/physical book copyright page
  4. 15 elements of a copyright page
  5. Frequently asked questions about copyright pages

Quick Disclaimer: Thank goodness I never became a lawyer. This should not be taken as legal advice. And that's it for my legal disclaimer (or, as I call it, my CYA statement).

A second disclaimer: Links in this article may give me a small commission if you use them to buy anything. It’s no extra cost for you, and it helps me write these handy articles that you can always read for free.

A copyright page is for letting people know a book isn’t in the public domain.

It’s your copyrighted intellectual property. Your book cannot be copied without permission. This page also contains info helpful for distributors, librarians, retailers, and booksellers.

The copyright page goes on the back of the title page (the verso) in the front matter. Read my article on front matter and back matter for more info.

Multiple elements of a copyright page serve various purposes.

Traditionally published books contain a lot of publisher information, so readers can order more books from the author or publisher. Self-published authors often put their author website instead.

A disclaimer can absolve you of legal liability concerning parts of your book. For instance, if your recipe book calls for eggs, you may include a disclaimer that eating raw eggs can lead to disease.

The edition number and printer’s key may be significant for book collectors down the road.

Yes, you need a copyright page if you want to add an extra layer of protection to your book — whether it’s fiction, nonfiction, a bestseller, or a book that sells 20 copies.

If you don’t have a copyright page, your book is still copyrighted. You don’t technically need a special page to copyright your book. It’s copyrighted from the moment you write it.

However, without the copyright page, your ownership may be harder to prove in a court of law.

A copyright page discourages plagiarism and announces you as the owner. Think of a “No Trespassing” sign. Without it, you still aren’t allowed to trespass. But the sign reinforces the idea.

Also, legal disclaimers can absolve you of any responsibility concerning certain parts of the book.

All you need on your copyright page is a copyright notice and a rights reserved notice. Like this:

© 2021 Dave Chesson. All rights reserved.

However, there are several elements that you don’t need on a copyright page but that you might consider adding for various reasons.


Take a look at these free, editable copyright page templates to get started.

All you need is a copyright notice and a rights reserved notice to make your copyright page official. You have my permission to copy this template below and use it however you wish.

Copyright © [Year of First Publication] by [Author or Pen Name]

All rights reserved.

No portion of this book may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher or author, except as permitted by U.S. copyright law.

If what you need is a fiction book copyright page template to copy and paste into your self-published book, here it is. You have my permission to use it as you like.

Copyright © [Year of First Publication] by [Author or Pen Name]

All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except as permitted by U.S. copyright law. For permission requests, contact [include publisher/author contact info].

The story, all names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this production are fictitious. No identification with actual persons (living or deceased), places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred.

Book Cover by [Artist]

Illustrations by [Illustrator]

[Edition Number] edition [Year of Publication]

If all you need is a nonfiction copyright page template to copy and paste into your self-published book, here it is. Use it as you like — you have my full permission.

Copyright © [Year of First Publication] by [Author or Pen Name]

All rights reserved.

No portion of this book may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher or author, except as permitted by U.S. copyright law.

This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is sold with the understanding that neither the author nor the publisher is engaged in rendering legal, investment, accounting or other professional services. While the publisher and author have used their best efforts in preparing this book, they make no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this book and specifically disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. No warranty may be created or extended by sales representatives or written sales materials. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation. You should consult with a professional when appropriate. Neither the publisher nor the author shall be liable for any loss of profit or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, personal, or other damages.

Book Cover by [Artist]

Illustrations by [Illustrator]

[Edition Number] edition [Year of Publication]

If you're publishing a public domain book, you need a copyright page for that as well. Because even though the content of a public domain book is in the public domain, any original contributions you make (annotations, illustrations, book covers, etc.) are all copyrightable. Here is a template, which you can use with my permission.

[Source Material Title] is in the public domain. All original additions, including illustrations and chapter summaries, are copyright © [Year of First Publication] by [Author or Pen Name] and may not be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher or author, except as permitted by U.S. copyright law.

Book Cover by [Artist]

Illustrations by [Illustrator]

[Edition Number] edition [Year of Publication]

Memoirs are slightly different because you often need to protect the privacy of the individual. Here is my template which you can use however you like.

Copyright © [Year of First Publication] by [Author or Pen Name]

All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except as permitted by U.S. copyright law. For permission requests, contact [include publisher/author contact info].

For privacy reasons, some names, locations, and dates may have been changed.

Book Cover by [Artist]

Illustrations by [Illustrator]

[Edition Number] edition [Year of Publication]

A low content book generally only needs a simple copyright, such as the below template. Although since art is often a big part of low-content books (coloring books for example), you should definitely include artists on this page. Feel free to use this.

Copyright © [Year of First Publication] by [Author or Pen Name]

All rights reserved.

No portion of this book may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher or author, except as permitted by U.S. copyright law.

Cover by [Artist]

Illustrations by [Illustrator]

an example of the difference in formatting for ebook and print copyright pages

Copyright pages require special formatting. Not all formatting software does this automatically, so be sure to double check (and I'll tell you our formatting software recommendation in a moment).

In addition to using any of the templates listed above, a copyright page should also:

  • Come right after the Title page (basically it's the second thing you will ever see in a book).
  • The text should be formatted to align on the bottom-left (for print). Some publishers will center it, but it should definitely float at the bottom of the page.
  • Have a smaller font. Most copyright pages have a smaller font than the rest of the book.

If you're using Microsoft Word or Google Docs, you will need to format this page manually, which can be a pain. Thankfully, a program like Atticus automatically formats your copyright page for you, so you don't need to worry about it.

What's more, Atticus has many of the copyright templates listed above, built into the program!

To use these templates, all you have to do is add a new element by going to the three dots next to Add Chapter.

how to find the copyright templates

Then scroll up to where it says Copyright Templates and select your desired template.

showing the list of copyright templates in Atticus

Once you have the template, you simply fill it in with your specific information and presto! You've got a solid copyright page.

Check Out Atticus Here

A copyright page may include the following 15 elements (though not all 15 appear on every copyright page):

  1. Copyright notice (required)
  2. Rights reserved notice (required)
  3. ISBN
  4. Library of Congress Control Number
  5. Disclaimers
  6. Permissions notice
  7. Credits
  8. Print edition
  9. CIP data block
  10. Ordering information
  11. Author’s website
  12. Printing details
  13. Trademarks
  14. Printer’s key
  15. Publisher information

Only the copyright notice and rights reserved notice are technically required to make up a copyright page. But the other elements may help people get more info about you as an author, or about printing details, or about legal disclaimers that inevitably matter to someone.

I know it looks crazy. But don’t worry. I’ll explain each one below and provide an example for all 15 copyright page elements.

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A copyright notice is 1 of 2 required elements on your copyright page. It lets the public know who published this, when they published it, and that the work is copyrighted.
The copyright notice (copyright statement) includes these 3 elements:

  1. The copyright symbol ©, the word “Copyright,” or the abbreviation, “Copr.” (Choose one)
  2. The first year of publication (or multiple years, denoting first and new edition’s publication)
  3. The name of the copyright holder (presumably, your name or pen name)

Here is an example of the copyright notice:

Example of copyright notice

What if I use a pen name?

Go ahead and use your pen name on the copyright page in your ebook. Or, alternatively, use your publishing company name.

When you register your copyright, include your real name and pen name on the registration form.

What if I write under my own LLC?

If your books are written and/or published under an LLC or sole proprietorship, you can list your company as the copyright owner on your copyright page in your ebook. There is no difference in the required language as long as you’re operating as a sole proprietorship or an LLC.

Use your company address when listing the publisher’s contact details. This can help protect you legally as well as physically as you grow as an author. (Your fans can send fan mail to your work address.)

To learn more about setting up your own publishing company, liability protection, tax benefits, and how copyright is affected, check out my article on creating your own publishing company.

2. Rights Reserved Notice (All Rights Reserved)

The rights reserved notice is the second of 2 required elements on your copyright page. You can simply state, “All rights reserved.” Or you can expound upon that statement, making it more precise and more forceful.

Here is a simple example of copyright notice and rights reserved notice put together:

© 2021 Dave Chesson. All rights reserved.

Seriously, that’s all you need. Technically, if you have the copyright notice and “All Rights Reserved,” then your book copyright page is complete.

Rights Reserved Notice

All Rights Reserved Example #1 (Simplest)

All Rights Reserved.

All Rights Reserved Example #2

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information, contact the publisher at: permissions@publisher.com.

All Rights Reserved Example #3

All rights reserved. This book or parts thereof may not be reproduced in any form, stored in any retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise—without prior written permission of the publisher, except as provided by United States of America copyright law and fair use. For permission requests, write to the publisher “Attention: Permissions Coordinator,” at the address below.

3. ISBN

An ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is an identifier for your book. It has no legal purpose. The worldwide publishing industry uses it to identify your book as unique from others.

List your ISBN on the copyright page. Not all books will have an ISBN number, but many will.

If you have more than one ISBN, you can list both for your readers’ reference.

Here’s what a print ISBN number will look like on a copyright page:

ISBN 978-1-4767-9386-4 (print)

ISBN example

Does my book need an ISBN?

Yes, your book usually needs an ISBN number. However, Amazon does explicitly not require you to input an ISBN number for your eBook.

That answer varies depending on where you are going to market your book. It is up to the store selling your book.

  • Amazon (Kindle eBook): No
  • Barnes and Noble (EPUB): Yes
  • Apple iBook (EPUB): Yes
  • Libraries and bookstores (print books): Yes

Check out my article on Self-Publishing Hardcover Books to learn more about ISBNs.

Where to get an ISBN in different countries:

Do I need a separate ISBN for each eBook format?

Yes, you will need separate ISBNs for the different formats of your ebook and your printed book. For example, if you have a Kindle format, EPUB, audiobook, softcover, and hardcover, you will need at least 4 different ISBNs (5, if you want one for your Kindle book, too).

Go to the ISBN-issuing website here for more details on ISBNs for eBooks.

Do I need an ISBN if I’m a self-publisher?

Yes, self-publishers need an ISBN number, just like any other publisher.

All US ISBNs are issued to publishers through a company called Bowker. Go to MyIdentifiers.com to get your official ISBN.

Pro tip: If you think you’ll be publishing more books (or more versions of your book) down the road, I’d recommend buying a set of 10 ISBNs as a package right away. You’ll get a steep discount that way.

Do I need an ISBN if I don’t live in America?

Yes, you need an ISBN in multiple countries besides America. Go to the International ISBN Agency to get your international ISBN.

4. Library of Congress Control Number

The Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN) is a free number you can get that facilitates libraries cataloging your book. Authors can apply online to the Preassigned Control Number (PCN) program.

This is only necessary if you want your book shelved in libraries. Librarians won't shelf a book unless it lists an LCCN.

Side note: LCCN is a separate (but similar) number from the Cataloging in Publication (CIP) data block.

Here’s what an LCCN looks like on a copyright page:

Library of Congress Control Number

5. Disclaimers

Disclaimers are where you deny responsibility for particular aspects of your book, such as denying characters were based on actual persons. A disclaimer helps protect the writer and publishing company from potential liability.

An entire book could be written on disclaimers alone. Because our society is increasingly prone to suing at every opportunity, book disclaimers have become a lot more common.

Some genres, like investing or health, might require specific language to stay compliant with the SEC.

For some sample disclaimer language, look inside other books of your genre published by traditional publishing companies large enough to have a legal staff.

A legal disclaimer in your book copyright page doesn’t have to be long. But a small disclaimer might save you a lot of trouble down the road.

Here’s Kindlepreneur’s disclaimer:

We are not lawyers. This website and the content provided herein are simply for educational purposes and do not take the place of legal advice from your attorney. Every effort has been made to ensure that the content provided on this website is accurate and helpful for our readers at publishing time. However, this is not an exhaustive treatment of the subjects. No liability is assumed for losses or damages due to the information provided. You are responsible for your own choices, actions, and results. You should consult your attorney for your specific publishing and disclaimer questions and needs.

Below is another example of a disclaimer, but in a nonfiction book:

Some of the recipes in this book include raw eggs. Raw eggs may contain bacteria. It is recommended that you purchase certified salmonella-free eggs from a reliable source and store them in the refrigerator. You should not feed raw eggs to babies or small kids. Likewise, pregnant women, elderly persons, or those with a compromised immune system should not eat raw eggs. Neither the author nor the publisher claims responsibility for adverse effects resulting from the use of the recipes and/or information found within this book.

Here’s an example of a book disclaimer about the resemblance to actual places, people, or events:

People, places or events disclaimer

6. Permissions Notice

You need to put in a permissions notice if you used any copyrighted material with permission from the owner. This announces that you sought and obtained the necessary permissions.

This is different from the next element, credits, because a permissions notice is needed if you used copyrighted material. Credits are a courtesy; you did not have to seek permission to use the book cover your designer made for your book.

Example of permissions notice on a copyright page:

7. Credits

Give credit to anyone who made a contribution to your book, such as:

  • The graphic designer who created your book cover design
  • Photographers whose photographs you used
  • Your formatting service
  • Editor(s)
  • Proofreaders

Can I use a public domain photograph? You may use a photo in your book that is in the public domain. However, make sure it is actually public domain. No verbiage can protect you from accidentally using a copyrighted photo that you thought was public domain.

You do not have to disclose that you used public domain photos. You do not have to use the PD-US logo.

2 examples of credits on a copyright page:

Copyright page credits

8. Print Edition

Your book’s edition is a nice thing to include, especially if it is not the first edition. Simply write “Second Edition” or “Third Edition: December 2020”.

Here is an example of a print edition on your copyright page:

print edition copyright page

9. CIP (Cataloging in Publication) Data Block

Most self-published eBook authors won’t include a CIP data block. A Cataloging In Publication data block (CIP) is not required to publish or sell a book.

The Library of Congress can issue a CIP data block to authors. It is not something you can create for yourself. However, if you’re a self-publisher, you are not eligible to obtain a CIP data block.

You can, however, pay to have a P-CIP (Publisher’s Catalog-in-Publication) data block generated for you. Having P-CIP data might make your book look more professional. It costs anywhere from $60-$100 and can be done by CIPblock.com.

Frankly, the only people interested in seeing your CIP data will be librarians. CIP data exists to help them categorize (“catalog”) your book in the library more quickly and easily. Unless you plan to market your book specifically to librarians, CIP data is unnecessary.

A CIP data block example looks something like this:

CIP data block copyright page

A side note for Canadian self-published authors

The National Library of Canada will no longer issue a CIP for self-published books. However, they still offer some free services like ISBNs and others. If you're published, you can obtain your free CIP data by filling out their form here.

If you are located outside of Canada, check with your country’s local copyright laws to make the right choice about CIP data for your copyright page.

10. Ordering Information

The ordering information section includes info for people or organizations wishing to order more copies of your book. Different information may be listed for people looking to make individual orders, bulk orders for bookstores, college classroom orders, etc.

Often, ordering information doesn’t apply to self-published eBooks.

Example of ordering information on the copyright page:

Ordering information copyright page

11. Author's Website

Include your author website on your copyright page so readers can easily find more of your work.

Here’s an example of what an author’s website looks like on the copyright page:

Author website copyright page

12. Printing Details

On the copyright page, you can include any details about your publishing company’s environmentally-friendly printing practices, the location of printing, fonts you used, etc.

Here are 3 examples of printing details to include on the copyright page:

13. Trademarks

Disclose any trademarks your publisher may hold to names, logos, or imprints included in your book.

Example of a trademark on the copyright page:

Trademark copyright page

14. Printer’s Key

The printer’s key is not typical for self-published books or eBooks.

Ever wonder what that strange, long string of numbers float along near the bottom of the copyright page means? Those numbers are actually there for the publisher’s production department. They represent the printing number (or sometimes, the printing year).

Every publisher has its own unique method. Typically, they are in descending order, from left to right. However, they can be in ascending or even in random order.

They were initially put there so that the book’s printing plates wouldn’t need to be remade with each reprint. The applicable number was simply removed from the plate.

However, as digital printing and ebooks take over, these are likely to go extinct.

Side note: These numbers are helpful for book collectors. Just look for the lowest number on the list; that’s the printing you have.

Another note: A printer’s key is different from the edition number. There may be multiple printings of the same edition.

In the example below, the printer’s key indicates we have a copy from the book’s 2nd printing:

printers key copyright page

15. Publisher's Information

For traditionally published books, the publisher’s information is usually included so that readers know who and how to contact for reproduction permissions. This may include their address (or just the city), website, social media, logo, or other contact information.

For self-published authors, you may put your name, pen name, and/or an author website in lieu of publisher info.

Below is an example of publisher information on the copyright page of a traditionally published book:

Publisher information copyright page

How to Ensure an eReader Doesn't Skip Your Copyright

You may have noticed that when you open an eBook on a Kindle or other device, that it usually doesn't start at the very beginning (i.e. the cover of your book).

Instead, Amazon and other retailers estimate where the book starts, and in some cases this can lead to a reader starting with chapter 1 and completely missing your copyright page!

So, assuming you want people to open to your copyright page (and you might not), you need a way for readers to start there, instead of chapter 1.

Thankfully, Atticus is the only formatting program that lets you do this.

All you have to do is go to the formatting settings and scroll down until you find the section labelled Ebook Settings.

atticus start page feature

From there, you simply select where you would like readers to start when they open your book for the first time.

This inserts a special code into the eBook file that lets Amazon know exactly where to open the book for new readers. Simple as that!

Atticus is the currently the only formatting software that lets you customize the Start Page of your book, and not only that, but it also works on virtually every platform, and it's over $100 cheaper than the competition (which does not have this Start Page feature).

Check Out Atticus Today!

Your book is copyrighted the moment you write it. You may want to register your copyright to make it more official and legally airtight. Read my article about how to copyright your book.

To register your copyright, visit copyright.gov. The copyrighting process takes 6-13 months, so you should probably publish your book before the copyright is fully registered.

Your copyright protection is effective when you create the content — the second you type words into your book writing software or put pen to paper.

However, registering your copyright adds an extra layer of protection.

We recommend everyone read this brief primer on copyright basics published by the U.S. Copyright Office.

No, you do not need to register your book with the U.S. Copyright Office for your copyright to be effective.

However, there are benefits to doing so.

If you register your copyright, you can claim attorney fees and statutory damages, in addition to the actual damages and profits you get to claim with an unregistered book.

You can read more about this on the U.S. Copyright Office’s website. International authors will have to check their country’s unique copyright laws.

Before registering for your copyright, you should first submit your published work to Amazon KDP (or other booksellers).

At the time of writing, books take 6-13 months to be processed by the copyright office. There’s a lot of potential profit to be lost in those 6-13 months.

Share this handy article with your self-publishing colleagues!



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113 thoughts on “Guide to Writing a Book Copyright Page [With 6 Templates]

Comments
  1. Rich Moser

    Excellent summary.

  2. Nellie

    This was GREAT. Neat and sweet and to the point!! Also have ADD. Learned to “learn around it”. This is great website (even if you are a Sox fan, I forgive you). Me Yankees. Sorry had to put that in. I’m a vet too, salute to you!

  3. Susan

    Very helpful!
    Thanks, Dave.

    1. Dave Chesson

      Glad you liked it!

  4. Daniel J. Mawhinney

    Hey Dave,
    Great post. Very informative and easy to read.
    Thank you for not trying to ‘talk over the heads’ of most of us authors out here.
    We routinely refer your materials to our publishing clients and this article on copyright will be another that gets referenced a lot.
    I learned quite a bit from this post and I’m sure our authors will as well.
    Thanks again,
    Daniel J. Mawhinney

    1. Dave Chesson

      Awe, thank you – that totally made my day to read.

  5. Dana

    Hi Dave, are you still responding to this post? I know it’s old.

    I had an additional question.

    1. Dave Chesson

      Yup

Comments are closed.