I grew up with someone who is now a well-known celebrity. I want to write about a book about this person and it won’t be flattering. He can’t sue me and win, right, since he’s a public figure? I’m certain he will sue and that’s okay but I need to know that I’m going to win. And, my publisher will have to pay my legal fees and any judgment against me if he does win, right?
I’m not an attorney and this isn’t legal advice. You need to consult with an attorney looooong before you spend time and money on a project like this.
While your book might be juicy, and might sell some copies, you might want to reconsider. If these incidents happened years or decades ago, what proof do you have that they actually occurred? If the court battle turns into a he said/she said type of scenario, you might lose. And, I suspect juries might be more inclined to side with a celebrity rather than with a celebrity’s childhood friend who chose to capitalize on their past friendship and, in the process, betrayed that old friend.
How much money do you have in the bank? If you’re sued by a celebrity, he or she likely has far more money than the average person and they can spend more on legal fees up-front. You could go bankrupt in the process…long before you ever step foot in the courtroom.
While it’s true that celebrities have a tougher time in these types of lawsuits, they can win and the damages can be astronomical. There’s a great article on this topic RIGHT HERE.
I’m sorry but your assumption that a publisher will foot your legal bills made me chuckle. First, a large, traditional publisher has fact-checkers and legal departments. Unless you have proof of all the incidents that you claim occurred, they aren’t likely to offer you a publishing contract, especially if you’re not a well-known author or celebrity yourself.
Publishing services that self-published authors use to publish their books are, for the most part, exempt from legal liability for libel, defamation and invasion of privacy because the manuscripts are not vetted for legal liability. Those firms are simply used as a printing and distribution service by the author to get their book on the market. The exception, based on a lawsuit against one large publisher, is when the firm knew up-front that the book might contain legal liability issues.
You might be tempted to profit from publishing a book based on a past relationship but the money, stress, and time involved, to say nothing of the harm to your own reputation in the process, probably won’t be worthwhile in the end.
- 13 Signs You Shouldn’t Include That Risky Content In Your Book by Angela Hoy
- How to Avoid Giving Yourself (and Your Publisher) LEGAL Nightmares! by Harvey Randall
- Don’t Invite a Lawsuit with Your Memoir By Angela Hoy
- Featuring Real People in Your Writing? Protect Yourself From Lawsuits! by Angela Hoy
- Well, Excuuuuuse Me for Trying to Protect You From a Lawsuit! by Angela Hoy
- More Q&A with Angela Hoy!
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