The Legal Ramifications Of Writing E-Books

Like many people, you’ve been raised on a steady diet of fantasy literature; Tolkien, Baum, Lewis, Le Guin et al. Or perhaps some of the contemporary masters like Neil Gaiman, Philip Pullman or George R.R. Martin.

It’s also possible that all the reading you’ve done and the worlds of wonders you’ve visited in their pages allowed your mind to become a fertile breeding ground for ideas and stories of your own.

Do you harbor ambitions of writing fantasy stories? Or, do you work from home doing freelance writing, and you’re in-between projects? Have you thought about publishing your own epic fantasy fiction?

It used to be that such a proposition was a difficult process, involving physical manuscripts, big publishers inundated with submissions, and mountains of rejection letters. However, in our age of technology, you can now bypass the middleman entirely and put out your stories yourself, quickly and in the form of an e-book.

This can be a labor of love for you, or it can be simply a project that you hope will yield some passive income. Perhaps both!  After all, a freelance writer or blogger can easily use his or her skills to create a fiction story. While the likelihood that you can quit your day job from one or two e-books on Amazon or isn’t high, remember that fantasy and sci-fi are actually one of the most lucrative genres of fiction. There are even online platforms out there that will pay you to ghostwrite them for a fee.

If this is something you think you could do fairly easily, here is a list of things to think about:

Investigate Self-Publishing Platforms

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads – all of these have a fairly easy e-publishing platform. Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform allows you to design a cover easily. Alternatively, you can submit to a niche e-publisher, of which there are many.

Keep It Short

Don’t start out by writing a 100,000 word novel. E-books that do well are typically between 10,000 and 50,000 words. Many authors like to publish kindle shorts, which can be successful sales wise, and then bundle related stories as a collection.

Keep It Original

Fantasy literature has a lot of clichés and conventions. You can, of course, choose to follow a formula, and it might bring you an audience, but why not aim for something greater? The sacred ring of power, the magic sword? Have your main character throw those in a moat. The dragon hoarding treasure? Tell the story from her point of view. The wizard? Make him a twenty-something ne’er do well with a commitment problem. These are not literal suggestions; it is simply a way to get you thinking about creating something never before seen.

Be Disciplined

Writing fiction is tough; it requires a lot of thought and energy. Outline your plot so that you at least have a skeleton of a structure to follow. Write daily; follow through, no matter how bad you think it is, until you have a finished draft.

Edit, Edit, Edit

Unedited work is a big problem that self-published authors encounter. Typos, misspelled words, run on sentences, poor formatting – these are surefire ways to turn off a new reader. Read and rewrite drafts repeatedly. You can also hire a freelance professional editor help you, or even a friend or loved one willing to do it pro bono.

Design a Striking Cover

Whether you have the Photoshop skills to make one yourself, purchase stock images of barbarians and elves, or hire a graphic artist, a cover is a must. Readers are naturally drawn to them. They may not be the best quality, but they will make readers take notice.

Finally, remember to copyright your work and have clear, written agreements with all of your collaborators.  Protect your identity by using a pseudonym if you feel having a published e-book could somehow impair your job prospects or otherwise affect your privacy. If there are disputes, or if the publishing platform is not upholding agreements, consider looking into a mediator or a lawyer.

Zane Schwarzlose is a writer at Fahrenheit Marketing, an Austin web design company. Zane has helped typeset several ebooks.

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5 Comments on "The Legal Ramifications Of Writing E-Books"

  1. Don’t forget the marketing aspect. Outside of editing and cover that’s also big focus for the self published.


  2. I agree with what you say about editing, Zane; I also agree with what you wrote about fantasy being one of the leading genres at the moment. I wonder if, perhaps, the market will very soon become completely saturated with fantasy novels? It is what a lot of people read, and, consequently, a lot of would-be writers within that particular group of readers are limited in their writing by what they feel is the only (or one of the only) marketable genres, and the result is even more fantasy novels, especially on the e-Book platform.


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