Guide to the Legal Issues of Self-Publishing

April 2, 2014

Congratulations. You have written a book. You have tackled the challenges of voice, pacing, and structure. More kudos to you if you are self-publishing. You are ready to grapple with copyediting, layout, cover art, and ePub.

As a self-publisher, you now face new challenges—legal issues as wide ranging as copyright, defamation, and taxes.

Perhaps you are surprised to find out that you are starting a business. You have questions about incorporation and crowdfunding, not to mention hiring freelancers and deducting expenses.

What about author platforms? How do you write blog posts that are provocative, but not defamatory? How do you find eye-catching images without spending a fortune? Does your website need a privacy policy, and what do DMCA, COPPA, and DRM mean anyway?

Dozens of books and blogs offer advice on designing covers, editing content, and tweeting effectively, but few will tell you how to protect your Social Security Number or spot a scam.

I am a business lawyer with 30 years of experience assisting clients in setting up and running their businesses, legally and successfully.  I do not go to court, and no one is ever going to produce a movie about the exciting life of a business attorney. But I get a great deal of satisfaction by keeping my clients out of trouble, so they can focus on their businesses, their creative projects, and their lives.

Writing and publishing a book is a significant investment in both time and money. Don’t lose money (or sleep) by hiring the wrong self-publishing service company or getting sued for copyright infringement.

Many posts will help a traditionally published writer who is blogging, tweeting, and creating content for internet distribution.

But I need your help. What questions do you have about the various legal issues of self-publishing? Is it important to register your copyright? How do you get permission to use song lyrics? Can you deduct the cost of grammar books? I welcome questions and suggestions in my COMMENTS section below.

 

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