(This article is excerpted from The Ultimate Children’s Writing Cheatsheet – our free ebook packed with 30 years of children’s writing knowledge in one simple reference guide.
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Children’s Writing FAQ For Beginners #2:

Do I Need to Copyright My Work?

The moment your work is in tangible form—once you type it, save it, write it, or otherwise commit words to paper — it is protected under copyright law without any formal registration, even if you do not use the copyright symbol.
Once you have a publishing contract, the publisher will officially register the work in your name with the US Copyright Office, which allows you greater power to litigate and collect damages should someone steal your work. For more information, go to https://www.copyright.gov/
For a good overview of basic facts about copyright, including works eligible for protection, the rights of copyright owners, registration info and more, download this free guide from the US Copyright Office.
One more thing: Beginners often worry that a publisher will steal their book ideas or even the actual story. This is wildly unlikely. If a publisher likes your idea or story that much, they’ll pay you for it. There’s no incentive for a publisher to risk a lawsuit – and the bad publicity it would bring – when they could simply ink a contact with the author.
Children’s Writing FAQ #1: Do I Need an Illustrator for My Picture Book Manuscript?

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