Cover Photo: This photograph shows someone wearing a gray sweater standing in front of a gray wall. With one hand, they are holding a blank white book open directly in front of their face.
Photograph by Talha Ahmed/Unsplash

The Nuts & Bolts of Self-Publishing

This article outlines the main contractual differences between traditional and self-publishing.

These contracts contain terms about similar issues to those you would find in traditional publishing contracts: who bears legal liability in the case of a copyright or defamation claim (typically the author does); and who owns the copyright in the work (again, typically the author). As author, you also represent that nothing in the book infringes anyone else’s legal rights, and agree to indemnify the platform if they get sued over something you wrote.

Audible ACX

Self-publishing takes a lot of work, but also gives an author greater control over the creative and production process. The laws around it are fairly straightforward, but generally not particularly negotiable, so be sure you know what you’re getting into before you click on “I agree.”

Jacqui Lipton is the founder of Raven Quill Literary Agency as well as a consultant on business and legal issues for creative artists. She also teaches law and legal writing at the University of Pittsburgh, as well as several online venues. She writes regular columns on legal and business issues for authors for the SCBWI, Luna Station Quarterly, the Authors Alliance, and Savvy Authors. Her book "Law and Authors: A Legal Handbook for Writers" is forthcoming from University of California Press in the fall of 2020. She is repped by Jane Dystel at DGBLM.