Cover Your Assets: FAQs For Self-Publishing Spoofs, Parodies, And Satires | Self-Publishing Relief

by | Self-Publishing | 0 comments

There’s a long literary tradition of writing satire, parody, and spoofs. But, unfortunately, there’s also a modern literary tradition in which arguments about rights infringements are often settled in the court systems. If you’re thinking of self-publishing a spoof, parody, or satire, Self-Publishing Relief suggests you consider these FAQs that could help you stay out of trouble.

What’s the difference between parodies, satires, and spoofs? Does it matter?

Satire is a type of storytelling that uses exaggeration, irony, and/or humor to expose often less-than-savory elements about the subject matter (from people, to organizations, to cultural values). Parody, however, imitates style. A writer can parody another writer’s voice, the speech of a politician, or song lyrics. Spoof tends to be a more generic term that usually points to elements of both parody and satire (and a spoof might be more good-natured than a satire or parody).

What’s the risk of publishing parody, satire, and spoofs?

There are two primary gray areas that can lead a writer into trouble when self-publishing spoofs, parodies, or satires.

The first involves defamation of character—essentially, when a writer claims certain elements as fact but cannot prove them to be true, and those “facts” do real damage. If your satire seems to be making serious (non-comedic) assertions that you can’t prove are true, you might run into trouble. Satire is fiction, of course. But writers have been sued for creating characters based on real people.

The second involves copyright infringement. There’s a fine line between an homage or parody that imitates and outright copying. The point of parody is to reflect and comment on the original work using new ideas, not to copycat the original ideas.

What are our rights for writing and publishing satire, parody, or spoofs?

Making fun of someone or something seems to be generally protected by law. Lying about them is not. As long as you’re not lying, you should be within your rights.

As for copyright infringement, as long as you’re not stealing characters, storylines, or worlds outright in order to sell more books, you might be in the safe zone. For example: Your young magician Parry Hotter might fight dragons with a wand that turns beasts into drooling, raving admirers, but only so that the narrative can point out how the Harry Potter series has us all entranced to the point of mindless adoration (or something like that).

What are examples of famous books that are satires, parodies, or spoofs?

Some famous literary satires and parodies include:

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Candide by Voltaire

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift

Pride And Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride And Prejudice And Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars by Ian Doescher

What about writers of fan fiction?

Fan fiction is fiction that uses characters from existing books to create new works. Most fan fiction is serious about recreating the world of its antecedents—as opposed to making a poignant commentary on that world—so it rarely crosses into the world of parody or satire. The thinking goes that as long as a writer isn’t trying to sell their fan fiction, they’re in the clear. Learn more about copyright and fan fiction lawsuits here.

One Last Caveat About Satires, Spoofs, And Parodies

Even if you cross every T, dot every I, and quibble about every comma—and you’re 100% sure you’re within your rights to publish a given spoof, satire, or parody—that still might not fully protect you from being sued. So tread carefully and be prepared.

And a final, important reminder…We are not attorneys, and the information in this article may not apply to your unique situation. Always consult a lawyer about your rights.

Question: What’s your favorite spoof, parody, or satire?




Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Find An Article

Recent Articles



Thank you so much for all the amazing help you provided! I’m already thinking about my next project and you better believe I plan to use Self-Publishing Relief!

—Bianca Chambers Carter, Writer

Read Bianca’s review!



Using Self-Publishing Relief is the only way I would ever consider publishing my work… the process was seamless: They answered all of my questions and always kept me apprised of the next steps.

—John McCord, Writer

Read John’s review!


The team at Writer’s Relief and Self-Publishing Relief was supportive and helpful in creating my chapbook — from sending multiple cover design options to patience and thoroughness during review rounds. They made the publishing process easy and enjoyable!

Laurin Becker Macios, Poet

Read Laurin’s review!



I have found my people with Jill, Carol, Dave, Joey, Ronnie, and all the fellow “bookies” at Self-Publishing Relief. Their level of expertise is seasoned and savvy for navigating through the indie publishing landscape, as we established the imprint Occupy the Word Publishing. What is more, the team’s enthusiastic tenacity to solve difficult issues and create new opportunities in developing serious readership for my novels makes it a powerful pleasure to work with them. 

King Grossman, Novelist

Read King’s review!

Thinking about self-publishing?
Receive your FREE copy of our helpful guide...


Act now! Enter your name and email on the right to receive..
  • Design tips to boost your book's marketability
  • Insider secrets for writing the best back cover book blurb
  • The importance of a flattering headshot

Send Me My FREE Guide!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


Pin It on Pinterest