If You Self-Publish Your Memoir, Read This

Many self-publishing authors have questions about self-publishing a memoir and avoiding a libel suit. Libelous statements are published statements that are false and damaging. However, even if what you write is true, someone can still accuse you of libel. Here is what you need to know to protect yourself.

  • If you make negative statements about another person or entity that have not been proven in a court of law, you need written permission.
  • If you are unable to obtain written permission, take steps to protect yourself:
  • Change all names of people and places.
  • Use a pen name.
  • Do not include an author photo.
  • Do not include an author bio.
  • Consider listing the book under the “Fiction-Biography” genre rather than non-fiction.

I know these steps can sometimes be hard for memoir writers because they are so emotionally involved in their stories and they want the world to know their story. However, publishing a book without permissions can lead to legal, and possibly physical, danger. People such as abusers do not like the world knowing the truth, and they may retaliate against authors who share their stories.

Many publishers will reject the story for publication if the above  precautions are not taken.  Some authors think their “freedom of speech” allows them to say whatever they want.  Unfortunately, this is not the case!  If what they are saying infringes on someone else’s rights, they cannot publish without the other person’s permission.

However, it is possible to share your story by using the above precautions. There are plenty of people who use pen names and have very successful books. Don’t let fear of a libel suit prevent you from sharing your story, but do take the necessary steps to protect yourself.

You can learn about libel, by reading this previous post: Questions Self Publishing Authors Ask: Non-Fiction Book Considered Libelous.

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 25 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Director of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps, publishing consultants and marketing professionals; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams and on assisting authors with marketing and promoting their book once published. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.

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