Writing Books/semi-memoir


I have written a book which has been accepted by self publishing company but still needs editing, my question is that I have not used the actual names of any of the family members and not mentioned most of them and have altered some of the facts to draw attention away from them. Although it is actually truth I am afraid of being sued for libel not because I mention them, they dont exist in my book but the dates, places and events will be instantly recognizable.  How can I protect myself?  

Hi Monica,

Thanks for the question. Libel is a very tricky area. In my own memoir I used real names and although some people were upset, the fact that it was a memoir was sufficient legal protection.

However, if you are in doubt, you should get a legal expert to read the manuscript and vet it for any problems.

In one case in Australia, a writer had their book pulped because a government minister claimed he recognised himself by the description of his "freckled hands". So it does pay to be careful.

Your publisher might also want you to vet the book in order to protect them as well.

However, if what you allege is minor and not likely to ruin someone's career, then I would not worry about publishing.

Best of luck


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Sandy McCutcheon


Author of 22 plays, 12 bestselling thrillers, a memoir and children's fiction.I can work with people on the process of writing, what to expect and ask for from an editor. How to work with the publisher`s marketing and publicity people. And how to survive book launches and publicity tours!


Published author of 22 plays, 12 bestselling thrillers, a young adult and three non-fiction titles. Visit his Moroccan blog at http://www.riadzany.blogspot.com for a look at his blogging work.

St Andrews, Helsinki University and other institutions. Adult Educator of the Year Award, Australia

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