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Writing Books/Fictitious life story being penned


Hi Susan:

My manuscript's currently going through the pre-production process at a publishing co. It was written in the third person and individual's names have been changed, though cities/towns have not. Now, I just heard back from the Editor who states that I may need to revise my work:

" .... advises that you discuss your use of quotes and presentation of real-life persons with a lawyer. Per the Contract, you will be liable for any infringements. We also suggest visiting the Library of Congress' website:

Here are the issues that must be addressed:

...... requests a copy of the expressed, written permissions you have obtained from the real-life persons you refer to or describe in your book. This permission should indicate that they are aware of what you are writing and that they permit you to print it for distribution and sale.

OR, if you are unable to obtain such permissions,

....... requests that you revise your manuscript, and re-submit a book that can truthfully state that ďAll characters in this book are fictitious, and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental."

So, I may have to rewrite and submit. I  just didn't think this would be a major issue since no-one would ever be able to identify the characters.

What do you think? Thanks.  

Hello Michelle:

I believe that is standard practice in the industry, or if it isn't, it should be. If you want your book published safely - meaning no lawsuits later - do as your editor suggests. You may think no one could identify the characters, but the publisher doesn't know, and they are going to protect their you-know-what.

I hope this helps. If it does, a nice rating would be greatly appreciated.  I am proud of my high score over 1350+ questions.

And good luck with your revisions!

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Susan Rand


I can answer questions about the elements of fiction and non-fiction writing: how to get started, writing techniques, re-writing, etc. I will NOT write for you, do critiques except from my website at, or give you ideas. I will not answer home-or-schoolwork questions in any category. If English is your second language, please say so, and I will make an exception. Please submit no more than one or two questions at once, as I tend to go into detail in my answers.


I wrote my first book in 1957 and have been writing and studying writing since. I have a BA in Written Communications, and have taught writing both privately and through adult education for 15 years. Have also edited (fiction books) for an online publisher and edited/wrote more than 100 articles for a teen sex education site. Currently writing web content and mentoring beginning writers.

BA degree in Written Communication

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