Beware as you navigate the process
Traditionally, success as an author was reserved only for the writers lucky enough to land a publishing deal with a major book publisher. However, with the advent of the Internet, a litany of authors have experienced varying levels of success publishing their own books through online book distributors such as Smashwords, Draft2Digital, iBooks and Amazon.
Unlike traditionally-published authors who have teams of professionals helping them navigate the publishing process, self-published authors are usually responsible not only for writing their books, but also for editing, promoting and graphic design. Evidently, this can give rise to a host of legal problems. A few of these potential problems are summarized below.
Book cover design
Having a compelling book cover is one of the elements that may give your book a boost on ever-crowded online bookshelves. However, book cover design is a common source of liability for authors. Simply choosing an attractive image online and uploading it as your cover image can obviously land you in hot water since the owner of the copyright in the image, as well as the persons appearing in the image, may pursue you for using the image without authorization.
Some authors may resort to online stock photography sites where they can purchase a license granting them the right to use a given image. However, if an author chooses this route, he should ensure that he understands terms of the licence attached to the selected photo. A particular license may allow you to use an image for non-commercial purposes, but once you begin to use the image on the cover of the book that you are selling, you may automatically be in violation of the terms of the license, which could expose you to legal action.
Self-published authors must ensure that they understand the terms of the contract between themselves and the book distributor they are dealing with. For example, Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing has a specific program that currently requires authors to publish their books exclusively on Amazon for 90 days, in exchange Amazon allows authors enrolled in the program to participate in a range of special promotions that may significantly boost future sales of the book. However, if Amazon discovers that the book is being sold on different online platforms during the exclusivity period, the consequences can be harsh for the offending author.
Self-publishing authors should beware of various taxation issues that could arise when selling books online. For example, authors residing in Canada but selling through American book distributors may see 30% of their royalties withheld by the distributor on behalf of the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) unless the author takes the requisite measures to prove that they are entitled to benefit from the Canada-US tax treaty.
This is just a summary of the many issues that self-published authors may face.
For further information, you may contact Kelly Francis at (514) 802-7736 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: This article merely gives readers an overview of the issues discussed therein and is not legal advice. Please do not take action based on this article alone without first seeking the legal counsel appropriate for your specific situation!