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Writing Books/Company names/Peoples names


QUESTION: Hi there,
I am writing a book that is based on a true story though will be marketed as fiction. I have referred to companies that the main character has worked for, and having read other advice there is nothing derogatory said about the companies, though in one instance I refer to a character who was particularly awful but have changed their name. Can I still write using the companies real name?

Can I also write people's real names as long as I don't use the real last name? Or should I just give them another name?

Many thanks for any help!

ANSWER: Hello Siobaahan,

You cannot use real company names or real people's names without expressed written consent through a literary attorney.

This is infringement and liable.

Change names of all people and companies, creating fictitious ones to protect yourself from any liabilities.

You can freely use the basis of things- just not the names; and of course market it as fiction.

Good luck.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Sorry, probably pretty much the same sort of question, but the book I am writing is based on my life, and I want to be able to say 'based on a true story' I take it this advice to change all names applies here? If I market it as non-fiction then I'd need to get written authority to use any names? But is it best to market it as fiction and just say 'based on a true story'? Many thanks, S

If it is based on your life, then it is an autobiography and is non-fiction. But you stil can't mention names without permission,

If you want to market it fiction but based on a true story and real people, change their name to protect them, and place the notice in the front of the book.

Either way, you'll need written permission or write the notice.

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Jannie Balliett


I am a published writer, Chief Editor and own A1 Editorial Service. I teach writing, specializing in novel writing, and creative writing. I can answer most any question concerning writing a book, plot and characterization, tighten the prose, and the editing process, and help advise with publishing and the requirements of obtaining a literary agent.


I'm a published writer, freelancer, and Chief Editor and own A1 Editorial Service. I teach writing for my two Online writer workshops.

Sisters In Crime Internet Chapter, The Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Brazos Writers Group.

Writers Post Journal magazine, May 2006 issue, Augusr 2006 issue, Nov/December 2006 issue and soon in 2008, On A Whim, flash fiction anthology, offered in Barnes & Nobles and Amazon.

Some college, creative writing, fiction writing

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