I am creating a novel that I would like to publish and distribute. Do I need the help of a lawyer?

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Question: I just completed a novel and will be shopping it around.  On the chance that an agent does want to take me on, do I actually need a lawyer?

Response: As a new writer, you may not know everything that goes into getting a work published including contract negotiations, royalties, distribution, book copyright, book copyright infringement and other complicated issues such as serialization.  Contract terms in themselves tend to be confusing.  Also, depending on how well your book does on the market, other considerations such as international distribution and even film rights may arise later.  Another issue is retaining an agent and agent fees.

Unfortunately, there are some unscrupulous agents out there who run scams to lure in new writers, sometimes costing these inexperienced writers hundreds of dollars in unnecessary fees and charges.  An attorney can apprise a new writer on the exact course to publication and help him and her avoid some of these pitfalls.   Again, although an attorney is not necessary to getting your work published, you may find yourself needing legal advice throughout the process.  In case you don't retain an attorney, you should at least become familiar with copyright laws to know your rights as an author.

Answered by Sharon Cullars

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