Writers sometimes ask me if they should hire an attorney and an accountant. My answer depends on certain situations. Here are the instances where I believe professional services are necessary for a writer:
1) If you receive a contract from a publisher, you may wish to hire an attorney to review the contract. Unless you are well-versed in legal matters, you may miss important elements of the contract that could be do your disadvantage later on. If you hire an attorney, however, be sure to hire one who specializes in intellectual property, especially literary intellectual property.
2) If you have incorporated your writing business or formed an LLC, you may wish to hire both an attorney and an accountant. I used the services of both an attorney and an accountant to set up my writing business. I still retain the services of an accountant to help me do my taxes each year. My accountant keeps up with new laws that pertain to the self-employed, laws of which I may not be aware.
3) When in doubt, check it out. If you have any doubt whatsoever, even the smallest doubt, about something in a contract or a tax question, you would be wise to hire a professional to help you. If expense is a problem, consider this: not hiring a professional and doing it yourself may cost you a lot more money in the long run than hiring a professional upfront. I have heard horror stories of writers who have lost thousands of dollars in royalty payments because they signed a contract without fully understanding what they were signing.
Forewarned is forearmed.
Copyright 2012 by MaryAnn Diorio, PhD. All Rights Reserved.