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Writing Books/Kids' illlustrations based on real people


Hello Rhonda
I appreciate this question is a little different to the rest, but hope you might be able to offer some advice. I have a potentially difficult situation with my childrens' picture books that I am hoping to self-publish on Amazon soon.

I completed my picture books about 10 years ago before self-publishing became accessible. The illustrations feature my niece and nephew, which I took photos of and completed in oils. Although the paintings have a likeness to them, the stories are not really about “them,” in the Christopher Robin sense, but simply describe fantasy-like adventures. Their names have been changed in the titles.

The children are now 15 and 16. But since then, the mother (my sister) has had a very acrimonious divorce from her husband (the father). Needless to say, the dad does not look favourably upon my sister or my family. The questions I am asking are these:

In the eyes of the law, what obligation do I have to the children, the father or mother?

Does the dad have any powers to stop me from publishing my books, demand anything or make things difficult? (Although I suspect, the matter is now purely between me, my niece and nephew as they have almost come of age.)

Of course, I would like to compensate the children fairly, but unsure of how. I would like to avoid getting trapped into paying out royalties.

I have tried to research into similar situations other writers have had like this, but cannot find anything. I am in the process of seeking advice from a local solicitor, but as yet, cannot find one who is specialised in this field.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Best wishes

CONGRATULATIONS on finishing your children's book!!!

As far as using family pictures, I would get approval from the children and both sets of parents in writing before I included the children in the book.  I also encourage you to consult an attorney.  Verbal agreements can seem fine until a book takes off . . .

All the best!

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Rhonda Campbell


I can answer questions on how to get published in magazines and newspapers; how to market your own books; how to earn a living writing; how to write press releases; how to find a good editor; how to edit your own books; finding a good printer; finding a good book illustrator; doing your taxes as a freelance writer. Questions I can't answer include specifics around working with a print on demand publisher


I have 36 years of experience as a writer (fiction and non-fiction). I am a book reviewer with Nielsen Media. I am a newspaper columnist and a reporter. I am a former radio station host and I am the editor of a literary newsletter, The Book Lover's Haven. I am also the author of more than 10 books.

Writer's Critique Group

The Trenton Times Philadelphia Trend Sisters in Style Essence Magazine The Pittsburgh Quarterly Obsidian II, etc.

I have taken numerous writing courses on book, proposal and grant writing as well as marketing and promotion

Awards and Honors
100 Most Admired African American Women Who's Who

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