By in Business

Why can’t I Put A Copyright Symbol And The Year In My Manuscript When I Submit It To Publishers And Agents?

Maybe you’ve heard that you cannot put a copyright symbol on the front page of your manuscript when you send submission packages to editors, agents and publishers. Well, this is a hard and fast rule. Do not do it. I cannot stress that enough. You will brand yourself as an amateur, and your submission will be tossed in the trash or delete box as fast as humanly or digitally possible. No one will touch your content with a 100 foot pole, and I am not kidding.

Amateur Branding

What’s more impressive about this is that the minute you do that, you are telling everyone that the content is yours and it may or may not be registered with the appropriate government authority. This raises the red flags, heckles, etc of everyone in the industry, and if it gets around fast enough that you are putting that symbol on your work, you will also be blackballed. The publishing industry is extremely tight knit. Publisher A talks to Editor B at lunch, and their topic of conversation is your submission. Now, multiple that conversation by 100, and everyone in the industry knows about you for all the wrong reasons. Are you sure you want to be in this industry?

It’s My Content! You Can’t Touch It Without My Permission

The second reason is more basic. When you put that symbol on your work, you are saying that no one can do anything to it without your permission. They cannot email it to their editors for a more thorough workup. They cannot email it to other agents or publishers that might be more interested in the work than they are. They cannot print your work out to hand out to other individuals in their office. They cannot attempt to storyboard it for a potential marketing campaign. They cannot discuss it in any fashion. In short, the only thing that person can do is READ your work, and since they cannot do anything with it without calling you first after they read it, they aren’t even going to read it. They are going to move on.

They’re Going To Steal My Work If I Don’t!

No one is going to steal your work. It’s a lot of effort to publish a freaking book. It’s expensive. It’s time consuming. It’s a real freaking hassle, and if the book needs edits, they have to hire an outside editor to edit the work. That’s exceptionally difficult without talking to the original author, and even then there is no guarantee that the work will sell and the company or individual will recoup their losses. Not to mention, computers store files AND timestamps. So, they publish this work and the original author walks into a bookstore and sees their book on the shelf. That’s a lawsuit, and no one wants to deal with the hassle or expense of a lawsuit if they do not have to.

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