Questions Self Publishing Authors Ask: Non-Fiction Book Considered Libelous

Throughout the month of July I will be discussing topics that often come up for self publishing authors.  Without an experienced agent, you may have found that it’s tough to find the answers to your questions about rights and permissions.  These posts are designed to help answer some of the questions you may have and will direct you to other sites where you can get more information on each topic.  Come back each Wednesday this month for more informational posts to help you in your self publishing journey.  If you have additional questions, please send us a comment and we’ll add it to our list of topics to cover in the coming weeks.

This week I will address the question: Could my non-fiction book be considered libelous?  Many self publishing authors aren’t sure what libel is and how to avoid legal trouble. Here are some helpful things for you to know.

  • Libel can be against people or products.
  • Libelous statements are published statements that are false and damaging.
  • For someone to have a case against you, the statement must be three things: untrue, damaging, and knowingly false.
  • Plaintiffs must have evidence to prove that the libel statement caused them harm.
  • Public officials and public figures must also prove malice.
  • An excellent source on the topic of libel is the “Briefing on Media Law” portion of The Associated Press Stylebook.
  • When writing non-fiction, only write the truth. Otherwise, write fiction.
  • Keep records of your research in case you ever need to prove that a statement is true.

To learn more about libel, check out this great post:

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s