Are you one of those writers?
You know, the kind that does whatever it takes to get a sale? Are you the kind that responds publicly to a bad review? Do you manipulate your public numbers to look better than you really are? Do you neglect excellence in your writing for the sake of a fast buck?
Of course you’re not. But you probably know someone who is.
Even if you haven’t, you see these kind of writers everywhere. You read about their bad behavior. You nudge the author next to you and say, I can’t believe they did that. And sometimes, the response you get is, but isn’t there no such thing as bad publicity?
And then, perhaps you think to yourself: Am I doing this all wrong? Writers everywhere are behaving badly and getting away with it. Aren’t they?
This industry — writing, publishing and marketing in the information age — is still so new that good practices haven’t caught up yet. In some ways modern writers don’t know what is good behavior and what isn’t.
I’d like to suggest, in light of recent events, and with help of friends like Jane Steen and the folks at ALLi, that we set aside time to discuss author ethics.
This blog post is to propose a two-week period for these discussions. We are inviting you to join us for Ethical Author Weeks, February 1-14, 2015.
In these two weeks, we’d like for conversations on blogs, websites, chats, groups, tweets, etc to be started worldwide.
Ethics, at its core, is choosing to take responsible public action out of respect for our readers, our art and ourselves.
We love our readers when produce excellent work and allow them the freedom to critique us honestly in public forums.
We love our art when we choose not to cheapen it with slimy sales techniques and editorial short cuts.
We love ourselves when hold each other to high standard of behavior in our public appearances both online and real life.
The following code was written recently by the Alliance of Independent Authors and is 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.”
During this two week period, February 1-14, 2015, I’d like to get as many writers as possible to commit to promoting Author Ethics in as many ways possible.
Please consider doing the following:
Publish blog posts about your 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 you are going to make in their own practices using the #ethicalauthor hashtag.
Ask authors that you are associated with to read over the Code of Ethics written by ALLi.
Start conversations in whatever social media connections you may have about author ethics.
Think through what being an ethical author means to you and change any questionable behaviors.
Paste the Ethical Author badge on your blog or website as a promise to all who see it that this author will do their best to honor it.
The Ethical Author Code
Guiding principle: 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.
More information about the movement behind Author Ethics can be found here: http://www.thebookseller.com/futurebook/futurebook14-big-idea-ethical-author
So, are you in? Do you want to be an ethical author? Can you commit to any of the above actions?
And what do you think? I’d love to hear from you.