Get A Pencil! Let’s Take A Quiz!
1. Have you ever used the words “best-selling” to describe your own books, when what you mean is that of all the books stored in your closet, Your Guide To Amish Zombie Princesses, really has generated the most sales?
2. Have you ever claimed that you were in a professional writers association, like International Fiction Writers Who Use Modems when you let your membership expire in 1998?
3. Have you claimed that you sold thousands of copies, when really you sold 556 and you just rounded up?
4. Have you ever made up an endorsement for the back of the book, like say, “Taylor Swift called, ‘Your Guide To Amish Zombie Princesses’ the inspiration for her next album, coming out in 2016″? When the closest you got to Taylor Swift was when you accidentally changed your Pandora station from Muzak to ubiquitous pop tunes?
5. Have you ever been so upset over a negative review about your book online, that you called your mother and asked her to change it?
6. Have you ever gone online under a pseudonym, say, Mary Jane Smith, and posed as a raving fan of Your Guide To Fighting Off Amish Zombie Princesses, just so you could boost sales and generate buzz and possibly get the attention of Taylor Swift?
7. Have you ever attacked other authors in the Amish Zombie Princess genre, just so that your book will look better? That’s impressive if you have because there are, thousands, you know?
8. Do you approach other authors privately, making deals to reciprocate positive reviews so that you look better? Do you ever reward someone, like say, promising them they’ll meet Taylor Swift next week at your house for pizza night, if they give you a five star review?
9. Have you ever taken the work of others, say, Dan Brown’s How To Fight Off Mennonite Undead Queens, and then tweaked it just a little to pass it off as your own?
10. Have you been accurate and fair in your finances? Or have you manipulated your numbers so that you aren’t taxed by all that income that Your Guide To Fighting Off Amish Zombie Princesses has made in 2014?
If you said yes to any of these questions, then you may not be an Ethical Author!!
All kidding aside. Each one of these ‘questions’ were exaggerated to prove a point. Is is possible, and sadly very common, to slip into dishonorable and unethical behaviors for the sake of a sale.
Many of us are new to publishing and have no idea what we should do to promote ourselves. Often our goal is just to gain any advantage we can in an increasingly competitive market. We may feel “creativity” in marketing trumps courteous behavior. We may suggest trading reviews with another author, not realizing this behavior could weaken our credibility. We may be so distracted by the elusive promise of financial success that we neglect to nurture our art. Or we may attach our pursuit of fame so tightly to our own identities that we can’t tolerate criticism in public forums.
We may fear speaking to other authors about their questionable practices because we don’t feel we have either the authority to speak nor a reference point for better behavior. We may champion “truth” in the words that we write, through gritty characters and accurate descriptions, yet cover up our own discrepancies, create false identities or fabricate falsehoods to gain advantage in this industry.
The majority of authors avoid these behaviors, and yet they do happen and are widely publicized.
One response has been the Ethical Author Code, an initiative supported by the Alliance of Independent Authors for the consideration of “any writer who has published a long-form work of fiction or non-fiction, either via a trade publisher or self-publishing platform.”
We suggest that the first two weeks of February, 2015 should be devoted to broadcasting this code to as many writers as possible.
Why are we doing this?
Because authors have never had so much freedom. But with freedom, we must accept responsibility for our public persona, our works whether self-published or traditionally published, and our relationships with our readers.
During this two week period, we’d like to get as many writers as possible to commit to promoting author ethics in as many ways as possible.
Our Objectives in Creating #EthicalAuthor Weeks
1.Widespread author awareness of ethics through conversations on blogs, in real life and on social media.
2. Commitments to the Ethical Author Code.
3. Adoption of the Ethical Author badge by as many writers as possible.
During February 1-14, 2015, we’d like for writers worldwide to do any of the following:
- Publish blog posts about their own personal commitment to ethics.
- Interview other writers who’ve had experiences dealing with ethics issues.
- Link to this article or others like it that in support of author ethics.
- Tweet about changes they are going to make in their own practices using the #ethicalauthor hashtag.
- Ask authors in their circles to read over the Ethical Author Code.
- Start conversations on social media about author ethics.
- Think through what being an ethical author means to them and change any questionable behaviors.
- Display the Ethical Author badge on their blog or website.
The Ethical Author Code
Putting the reader first
When I market my books, I put my readers first. This means that I don’t engage in any practices that have the effect of misleading the readers/buyers of my books. I behave professionally online and offline when it comes to my writing life.
I behave with courtesy and respect toward readers, other authors, reviewers and industry professionals such as agents and publishers. If I find myself in disagreement, I focus on issues rather than airing grievances or complaints in the press or online, or engaging in personal attacks of any kind.
I do not hide behind an alias to boost my own sales or damage the sales or reputation of another person. If I adopt a pen name for legitimate reasons, I use it consistently and carefully.
Reviewing and rating books
I do not review or rate my own or another author’s books in any way that misleads or deceives the reader. I am transparent about my relationships with other authors when reviewing their books.
I am transparent about any reciprocal reviewing arrangements, and avoid any practices that result in the reader being deceived.
Reacting to reviews
I do not react to any book review by harassing the reviewer, getting a third party to harass the reviewer, or making any form of intrusive contact with the reviewer. If I’ve been the subject of a personal attack in a review, I respond in a way that is consistent with professional behavior.
I do not promote my books by making false statements about, for example, their position on bestseller lists, or consent to anyone else promoting them for me in a misleading manner.
I know that plagiarism is a serious matter, and I don’t intentionally try to pass off another writer’s words as my own.
In my business dealings as an author, I make every effort to be accurate and prompt with payments and financial calculations. If I make a financial error, I remedy it as soon as it’s brought to my notice.
I take responsibility for how my books are sold and marketed. If I realize anyone is acting against the spirit or letter of this Code on my behalf, I will refer them to this Code and ask them to modify their behavior.
If you have any questions, or want to discuss these issues. Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!