I am not an attorney and this is not legal advice. Please consult with an attorney for your specific legal questions. That said…
A writer contacted me this week asking if he could write “scathing articles” on televangelists. I’m sharing my response here:
Anybody can get sued for anything. The four questions you need to ask yourself are:
1. Can you afford a lengthy court battle against someone who likely makes millions?
He or she can afford to drag you through court for years. Can YOU afford to pay a law firm for years of representation? If you stop paying your attorney, he or she might quit your case.
“The circumstances under which an attorney may withdraw mid-case include: The client is refusing to pay the attorney for his or her services in violation of their fee agreement…”
And, if you leave an attorney with significant unpaid bills, it can be very difficult to find another attorney to take his or her place.
2. Can you handle the stress associated with such a battle?
Legal battles are very stressful. You might lose months of sleep and the stress can take a toll on your physical health as well.
3. Do the laws in your country allow you to collect your legal fees if you eventually win?
In the U.S., there are very few circumstances that result in the award of attorney’s fees, even if you win. One exception is if the lawsuit is declared frivolous. State laws vary. Other countries have different laws as well. So, if you’re located in the U.S., and if the lawsuit is not thrown out in the beginning, you could spend tens to hundreds of thousands in legal fees and, even if you win in the end, you might not be able to collect those from the plaintiff.
“The losing side does not ordinarily have to pay the winning side’s attorney’s fees, contrary to popularly held belief. In the United States, the general rule (called the American Rule) is that each party pays only their own attorney’s fees, regardless of whether they win or lose. This allows people to bring cases and lawsuits without the fear of incurring excessive costs if they lose the case. In contrast, in England and other countries, the losing side is often required to pay the other side’s attorney’s fees after losing a trial.
“(A) common state law allows for attorneys’ fees to be paid by the losing side if an attorney for the losing side filed a lawsuit knowing there was no reason, or “grounds,” for the lawsuit.”
4. Is what you plan to write going to be clearly stated as an opinion or will you be presenting facts that might be difficult, expensive and/or impossible to prove in court?
Writing “Father so-and-so is a jerk” is clearly an opinion. Writing “Father so-and-so is a child molester” is not (unless he has been convicted of such crimes).
A televangelist may be considered a public figure but that doesn’t mean the press, authors, or bloggers can have a field day with them. Please see:
“My novel features real politicians. Since they’re public figures, I can’t be sued, right?” YES, YOU CAN!
PUBLIC FIGURES AND LIBEL: “I want to write a tell-all book about a celebrity I once knew. Can a public figure sue me?”
- Invasion of Privacy vs. Libel
- First Lady Libel
- BLOGGERS BEWARE: Re-writing “News” Can Get You Sued…for Libel
- Can a Ghostwriter Be Sued for Libel or Invasion of Privacy?
- Well, Excuuuuuse Me for Trying to Protect You From a Lawsuit!
- Don’t Invite Lawsuits by Real People Featured in Your Book! (Hint: You Can Still Be Sued Even If You Don’t Name Them!)
- Featuring Real People in Your Writing? Protect Yourself From Lawsuits! – Angela Hoy
Got questions about Print On Demand and Self-publishing? Ask Angela Hoy.
About The Author
Angela Hoy is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, the author of 19 books, and the co-owner of BookLocker.com (one of the original POD publishers that still gets books to market in less than a month), PubPreppers.com (print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish), and Abuzz Press (the publishing co-op that charges no setup fees).
Angela has lived and traveled across the U.S. with her kids in an RV, settled in a river-side home in Bradenton, FL, and lived on a 52 ft Irwin sailboat. Angela now resides on a mountaintop in Northwest Georgia, where she plans to spend the rest of her days bird watching, gardening, hiking, and taking in all of the amazing sunrises.
WritersWeekly.com - the free marketing ezine for writers, which features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday.
BookLocker.com - According to attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print, BookLocker is: "As close to perfection as you're going to find in the world of ebook and POD publishing. The ebook royalties are the highest I've ever seen, and the print royalties are better than average. BookLocker understands what new authors experience, and have put together a package that is the best in the business. You can't go wrong here. Plus, they're selective and won't publish any manuscript just because it's accompanied by a check. Also, the web site is well trafficked. If you can find a POD or epublisher with as much integrity and dedication to selling authors' books, but with lower POD publishing fees, please let me know."
Abuzz Press offers FAST and FREE book publication, but only accepts a small percentage of submissions, and only works with U.S. authors.
PubPreppers.com - "We Prep, You Publish!" Print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish. Offers formatting and design services only, and then provides simple instructions for authors on where to sign up to have the print and ebook editions printed/listed/sold. Cut out the middle man. Keep 100% of what bookstores pay for your book!
Angela's POD Secrets Revealed Series can be found HERE.
Have a POD Book with another publisher? See if BookLocker can give you a better deal. (BookLocker offers "disgruntled author discounts" to those who want to move from other POD services.)
See BookLocker's publishing packages HERE.
ANGELA ON TWITTER https://twitter.com/AngelaHoy
BOOKLOCKER ON FACEBOOK - Provides links to free excerpts!
ANGELA ON FACEBOOK
ANGELA ON LINKEDIN
Angela is the creator of the Original 24-Hour Short Story Contest!
Read More Of Angela's Articles HERE
HOW TO REMEMBER, WRITE AND PUBLISH YOUR LIFE STORY
Angela Hoy's popular online class is now available in book format!
Remember Your Past
Write It and Publish It
in as little as 12 weeks!
Angela Hoy's book will get you started!
- Using Angela's MEMORY TRIGGERS, recall memories that have been dormant for years
- Record those memories in chronological order in your memory notebook
- Using the memory notebook as your outline, write your autobiography!
- Also works for biographies and memoirs!
Read more here:
Writing FAST: How to Write Anything with Lightning Speed
A systematic approach to writing that generates better quality quickly!
Chock full of ideas, tips, techniques and inspiration, this down-to-earth book is easy to read, and even easier to apply. Let author Jeff Bollow take you through a process that brings your ideas to the page faster, more powerfully and easier than ever before.
Read more here:
The Art and Craft of Writing and Editing
Writing is a constant dialogue between author and reader.
The craft of writing involves an interchange of emotions between an author and a reader. An author creates a story line, conflict, and characters, gives his characters words to speak, and then hands off these materials to a reader. This process results in a constant dialogue between the mental imagery produced by a reader and that proposed by the author.
Read more here: