Recently a querier carefully noted the following above the title of his enclosed pages:
Registered with the IP Rights Office
Copyright Registration Service
Ref: (string of numbers, no letters)
I'm befuddled by many things these days but copyright registration isn't one of them. I've spent more than my fair share of time hanging out at the copyright registration website and I know what a registration number looks like.
It doesn't look anything at all like what this guy had written.
So I googled.
And sure enough, there's a company that will "register your copyright."
And gosh, there's only a "small administrative charge" to do this.
15 years for $125! Wow.
And if you don't know much about how publishing or copyright works, you might sign up.
Here's the problem:
This isn't the copyright office attached to the Library of Congress and the number they give you is useless for tracking copyright. Copyright registration numbers for books start with the letters TX.
The copyright office registration number is THE ONLY ONE you need.
And guess what. It's a whole lot less expensive.
Que'lle fucking surprise.
This is a very carefully constructed website that makes money by capitalizing on people's lack of knowledge about how copyright works. I've said it before, and I'll say it again now: that is a morally bankrupt way to make money.
You do not need to register your copyright for querying a novel.
If for some reason you decide you do, there's one place to register copyright: US Copyright Office. And you'll notice the fee is $35 for the life of the copyright.
I should have known that Victoria Strauss and Writer's Beware were on top of this as long ago as 2007.