The value of copyrighted work exists not just in the feeling of your original work. Seeing your name on the cover of the book (electronic or hardcover) is a wonderful thing.
However, there’s the question that nearly every creative at some point is going to ask, where is the value in it? Is it worth the cost? Is having official copyright registration going to make me money?
It depends on what you write. If you write short stories and compile them into a collection, your best bet is to negotiate with a publisher because they might want to buy the rights to all the short stories you write, consistently publish them and pay you consistent cash to write if the company likes your work.
You can also go old school and put your heart and soul into a novel, probably need to hire an editor, get picked up by a publishing company, and negotiate your piece of the pie if your novel sells.
Maybe you’re a fresh-out-of-school cinematic arts/film major who has a passion for screenwriting and your first decent script is complete. You call a dozen talent agencies to have your script read and see if any studio or star likes what you have to offer. If someone does, you’ll then negotiate a deal through an agency or on your own to sell the script and make your first big break in Hollywood.
All of these situations have one common theme, you are negotiating the rights to your work. When you properly register your copyright and protect it, you hold the bargaining power. So when the time comes for you to negotiate your rights, you can say “I own the rights and want to license and/or sell them to you.” Then, Warner Bros., Disney, HBO, or whichever studio will have you can say, “That is so great to hear, let’s talk about a dollar figure.” Or Penguin Random House can say “We want to publish you, let’s talk about a royalty/licensing fee.”
You are put in the most effective negotiation position if you have all your ducks in a row when it comes to your copyright.
Suzanne Collins earned over $20 million from The Hunger Games books. Michael Crichton earned $500,000 for merely turning his novel into a script for Jurassic Park, and David Koepp earned over $1 million for the rewrites for guiding screenwriting expertise through the process.
These creators were in a position to earn this kind of money because they completely and indisputably owned the copyright to their work. They ensured through their attorneys and their research on how to best protect themselves and secure their place in the extremely competitive film/book industry.
Whether you’re a photographer, screenwriter, a novelist, or just a blogger, there is value in your copyrightable material, ensure to secure that value as your fortune.
Written by Christian R. Dudley