Saturday, November 26, 2011

Road to Self Publishing: Covering your butt

by Brittany Geragotelis

Hey all!

As promised, now that I've had a week off of work and am completely on top of my launch party plans, I finally have some time to write down my experiences so far in my journey to self-publishing Life's a Witch.

Today, we're going to tackle the tough question of lawyering up before letting your book go to print. Right after I made the decision to publish LAW myself, I knew that I wanted to do things the right way. And for me, that included having a lawyer look at my book and council me on what could stay in the book and what needed to go. In other words, I don't want to get sued.

So, I started by talking to one lawyer about it and he told me it would cost me around $5,000-$10,000 to have someone look at it. I have to admit, I was SHOCKED at how expensive it would be just to have someone read my book and tell me what could potentially get me into trouble. And frankly, I don't have that kind of money laying around to pay a lawyer. But I knew I had to cover my butt in some way.

Luckily, my good friend's mom is a lawyer and an avid reader, and she offered to take a look at LAW for free and then tell me what may get me into trouble if I kept it in. In the end, I ended up changing quite a bit (I'm big into using pop culture in my books), including my crack about Lady Gaga really being a witch. That one killed me to take out, but no way am I chancing getting sued by the Gaga. So, I took all her suggestions (along with a few of her edits) and incorporated them into the final version of my book.

Now, do you HAVE to have a lawyer look at your book before you publish it? Probably not. BUT I have to say that I feel a lot safer knowing that I've taken strides against leaving myself open to litigation. Even in fiction, a person has to be careful about using real people's names and likeness'. I did, however, recently meet another self-published author and asked him if he had someone look it over before he published and he said that he didn't. He felt confident that the disclaimer at the beginning of the book was enough to keep him safe from legal problems. Whether or not that's true, I'm not sure...I'm not a lawyer, after all. But for me, getting a lawyer to cover me was something I felt safest doing.

Has anyone else self-published? What do you guys think?



sgl said...

Not sure that this speaks to your specific legal question, but check out "The Passive Voice" . He talks a LOT about self-publishing and I've found his blog very helpful reading. Like you, I will eventually want to enter the self-publishing zone. I'm not quite done yet with the story (publishing on the web and at wattpad) but will be there next year sometime... anyways good luck!