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Self-Publisher's Legal Handbook: The Step-by-Step Guide to the Legal Issues of Self-Publishing Paperback – June 6, 2014

4.8 out of 5 stars 104 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Absolutely required reading for every author who wants to publish their own works. This book will give you expert guidance to safely control your work, avoid lawsuits and scams, while maximizing tax deductions. It should be on every self-publisher's desk--highly recommended." -Joel Friedlander, TheBookDesigner.com

"Self-publishing writers already wear so many hats; who has time to be a lawyer in addition to social media expert and marketing pro? Sedwick's book answers all types of questions, including those writers wouldn't think to ask."  -Arlene Miller, M.A., The Grammar Diva ™

"This vital resource for every self-publisher clearly outlines the legal issues authors need to know.... Well-written and authoritative yet unhampered by legalese.... Outstanding. This is a book that is likely to help any self-publisher avoid many headaches." -ForeWord 5-Star Review

"Should be on every author's shelf.... Sedwick simplifies the scary and presents ways to avoid ending up in a costly legal battle. Her goal is to help you avoid wasting money and time on things that could have been avoided in the first place.... Don't hesitate; get your copy now." -Self-Publishing Review

From the Author

When I self-published my historical novel, Coyote Winds, I discovered there was no legal guide to help self-publishing writers deal with the wide-ranging and complicated issues of publishing, including copyright, defamation, and taxes. At conferences, writers cornered me to ask important and worrisome questions. I wanted to answer those questions and more. I wrote the Self-Publisher Legal Handbook to help writers publish and promote their work while minimizing legal risks and errors.

For instance, many writers are surprised to find out that they are starting a small business. They have questions about incorporation and crowd-funding, not to mention hiring freelancers and deducting expenses.

Or they are considering purchasing a publishing package from a self-publishing service company and wonder how to distinguish between an honest company and an unscrupulous one. They worry about losing their copyrights.

Many suffer from what I call contract anxiety. When they try to read a contract, the page looks like 5,000 words run through a blender.

And what about author platforms? How do writers write blog posts that are provocative but not defamatory? How do they find eye-catching images without spending a fortune? They wonder if their websites need privacy policies, and what do DMCA, COPPA, and DRM mean anyway? 

Dozens of books and websites offer advice on designing covers, editing content, and tweeting effectively, but few will tell writers how to protect their Social Security Numbers or spot a scam. 

But there is also a personal reason I wrote the Handbook.

My parents were artistic people; my mother an actress and my father a stage and television director. By temperament or choice, they did not understand business or money. When I was young, I saw them being taken advantage of over and over again. I went to law school so I would have the tools to navigate the business world myself and to help creative people like my parents.

Writing and publishing a book is a significant investment in time, money and emotion. It is tough enough to make money in a business where fewer than five percent of books sell over 1,000 copies. Writers should not lose money (or sleep) by hiring the wrong self-publishing service company or getting sued for copyright infringement. 

Many chapters in the book will also help a traditionally published writer who is blogging, tweeting, and creating content for Internet distribution. 
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 204 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Gallon Press; 1 edition (June 6, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0988302152
  • ISBN-13: 978-0988302150
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (104 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #75,583 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By K. Bunker VINE VOICE on June 30, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book in return for a review.

In this book, attorney Helen Sedwick discusses the many and various legal issues that may confront a self-publishing author. These issues include claiming tax deductions for your expenses, dealing with freelancers such as editors and cover designers, protecting the rights to your work and avoiding infringing on the rights of others, understanding the contracts you will have to sign with resellers and other services, and much more.

The long list of things to do and things to watch out for is daunting. As Sedwick says at one point, "Bottom line: nothing is simple." But in addition to presenting this list of do-this's and don't-do-that's, this book is a good, clearly-written guide for navigating through that list.

To give just one example of the legal pitfalls that are out there, did you know that if you announce that you'll give a free copy of your book to a randomly selected person who has "liked" your Facebook page or subscribed to your newsletter, you may be running an illegal lottery?

In addition to legal advice, Sedwick also presents some commonsense practical guidance about how to watch out for your best interests in a world full of scammers and aggressive marketers. I particularly liked this bit about companies that force you to talk to a phone representative in order to get basic information: "you should not be forced to endure a sales talk just to get the basics. These guys are pros at separating you from your money. Call to ask questions, but if they launch into a sales pitch, warn them you will hang up if they don't stop immediately." Another interesting non-legal item in the book is a table that converts Amazon sales ranking to (estimated) book sales per day.
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Format: Paperback
Even if you are not going to self-publish, this book is what you need if you ever plan to sell what you write. Sedwick tells you in clear language how to set up your business as a writer, and then maximize your income and tax deductions. She explains copyright, trademark, and defamation issues every writer should know about. And for those who do self-publish, there is really nothing out there like this book. It tells you how the self-publishing system works, what to do and not do, who to deal with and not deal with, and how to recognize the scams you want to avoid.

Most writers would rather not think about business and legal questions. But they have to be dealt with, and Sedwick makes this part of authorship comprehensible and manageable. I wish this had been around years ago.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I recommend this book to the classes I teach at the community college on independent book writing, publishing and marketing. Author Sedwick says it all for indie publishers, especially about copyright, permissions, collaborative agreements, contracts, and taxes. My copy has sticky notes all over it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent for someone like myself who's seriously considering publishing a first book. Sedgwick covers all of the necessary steps from sitting down to write the first page to publication. Primarily she helps two types of writers: those who hire a self-publishing service company (SPSC) and those who do it themselves by hiring a Print-on-Demand (POD) provider. However, her three main goals will help any writer who publishes. She wants writers to be able to 1) control their own works, 2) avoid scams and lawsuits, and 3) maximize tax deductions. She definitely accomplishes her goals for us.

A big bonus is her "Resources" appendix which lists books and websites helpful to writers.

Though she lists the steps chapter-by-chapter, it would be very helpful when she revises to include a step-by-step worksheet in her revision and downloadable from her website, which would help us who bought her earlier version.

May you all make a great day and write great books.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This is a very practical guide, and one that many authors need. Sedwick explains legal concepts in a clear and easy-to-understand language. Sedwick covers everything you need to know about running your author business and minimizing your legal risk. The addendum with a legal analysis of the KDP & CreateSpace Agreements was excellent, and worth the price of the book alone.

While I don't agree with all of the advice (like buying ISBNs, Library of Congress CCNs, or purchasing media liability insurance), she presents the legal reasoning behind her suggestions, which I appreciate. But all in all this was a great read, I learned quite a bit, and I appreciate this book because it offers a legal perspective in the writing community---something we need a lot more of. I would include this book on any must-read self-publishing resource list.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
According to the title, this is a "Legal Handbook," but in reality it's much more.

The "legal" information is all there, and explained in easy to understand, straightforward language: copyright, fair use, and contract language, to name a few. These are topics that all authors really need to understand, whether they will be self- or traditional publishing. But this book goes well beyond the legal realm, offering a remarkably comprehensive guide to the business of self-publishing, with thorough and thoughtful advice on how to find and engage editors and designers, and marketing and distribution strategies. The structure of the book makes it easy to navigate to guidance on specific topics without the need to read every word. The author is an attorney and self-published author who clearly has a deep understanding of this material, and knows how to present it effectively. Highly recommended.
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