It took me a long time to learn this one … and a few costly mistakes too … but it’s absolutely true – every great writer needs a great lawyer, or at least, needs to learn something about the law as it applies to the creative industries.
I know it’s the last thing anyone in literature and writing wants to talk about (there aren’t many blog posts on this but considering how vital it is, there should be!) but the fact is – if you want to make a living from your writing, you want to be a professional, you want to protect your work and yourself, you need to know about the law. Heads up, publishing is a multi billion dollar industry – there’s a lot of business going on behind the magic!
It is no surprise that a number of well known writers used to be lawyers, or worked in businesses where knowledge of the law was part of the job. John Grisham is one, even Charles Dickens was a legal clerk for a while. As an aside, legal dramas are also one of my favourite genres to watch and read!
The great thing about lawyers is they are usually very smart, they have your back and they fight your corner, they know a lot about the legal system and how your work fits into it. They are also expensive, so until you’re at a point where you can afford one, it is worth doing research to get yourself educated – using reputable sites applicable to the country where you live. Government websites can be gold mines of legal information, exciting I know!
Honestly, the truly exciting part is knowing more about your field, standing tall in your newfound legal knowledge and knowing that you know just as much as publishing professionals when it comes to the law.
A key place to start is: IP Law – ‘intellectual property’, meaning:
“Intellectual Property law deals with laws to protect and enforce rights of the creators and owners of inventions, writing, music, designs and other works, known as the “intellectual property.” There are several areas of intellectual property including copyright, trademarks, patents, and trade secrets.”
It is well worth looking into more specifically, copyright and trademarks. Copyright will apply to all writers, trademark will apply if you have a name/brand that you want to register and protect.
It’s all very fascinating and empowering when you get into it, I promise!