Coming up with a book idea is a blissful accomplishment, whether you are an established or amateur writer. It is common to instinctively want to protect your intellectual idea so other people don't copy your concept. In the United States, you can safely protect literary works by copyrighting them; however, according to the United States Copyright office, a book idea or concept alone cannot be protected. Therefore, there are several things you need to do with your book idea to be able to copyright it and protect it as much as possible while you write and complete the book.
Express your book idea in writing. According to the U.S. Copyright Office, you can claim copyright in your description of the book idea you have, not on the idea alone. Make sure to write this on a document that can be save to your computer.
Navigate to the Electronic Copyright Office (eCO) webpage and click on the link that says "If you are a new user click here to register." You'll be prompted to enter your first and last name and email address, and you will also have to create a user ID and password. Click "Next" and you will be redirected to your new eCO account profile.
Click the "Register a New Claim" link on the left side of your profile and then click the "Start Registration" tab on the upper left region of the window.
Follow the on-screen prompts to complete your registration. This will include entering the type of work (Literary Work), the title of your book idea, the author's name and personal information about the author, the name of the claimant and contact information. Review the information you added on your submission when you get to the "Review Submission" section and then click "Add to cart."
Enter the payment information required. You can pay with a check or a credit or debit card. Click the "Submit Payment" button when finished and then click "OK." The fee to register your book idea using eCO is $35 as of June 2011.
Click the "Continue" tab when the screen says "Payment successful." A receipt will be sent to you via email.
Click the "Upload Deposit" link if you want to upload the book idea description you wrote directly from your computer. If you want to mail the book idea description, click the "Create Shipping Slip" tab.
Click the "Browse" tab, locate the file where you wrote and saved your book idea description in your computer and then click the "Submit Files to Copyright Office" tab. Click the "Close" tab when the "Upload Successful" window is displayed on your screen. If you clicked on the "Create Shipping Slip" tab, click the link that will appear beneath this tab. You will be able to view and print the shipping slip to send your book idea description by mail. A message saying "Congratulations! You just filed your copyright registration claim" will pop up when you finish.
Complete your book and when you finish it, repeat the aforementioned steps to copyright the completed book.