I want to spread the word today about the Alliance of Independent Author’s Ethical Author Code. The word author being defined as any writer who has published a long-form work of fiction or non-fiction, either via a trade publisher or self-publishing platform.
Here’s what the code is all about.
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 the following practices in 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 behaviour.
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 realise 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 behaviour.
I’m definitely signing on – taking the pledge, so to speak and I thought my own readers might be interested in how a group of independent authors has gone about defining for themselves what constitutes ethical practice. Bravo and kudos to all who worked on such a straightforward and comprehensive document
The campaign has its own hastag #ethicalauthor and, if you’re interested in signing on, you can download code for a nice graphic that you can display on your own social media sites. I’ll be putting mine up on the sidebar of my main blog page soon – well, as soon as I remember how.
Hi Fran, my Inbox is overflowing but I saw this one pop up just now. Do you know why it has been thought necessary to create this association? Surely the overwhelming majority of authors are already ethical and don’t need a badge to demonstrate it. Or am I being naive? I know that there have been one or two high-profile cases of alleged plagiarism, and also review attacks, catfishing etc. But this looks like one association that’s not particularly required.
Jane Steen explains in her guest article for the Alliance, that two stumbling blocks exist for self-published authors – quality (which is another issue, for sure) and ethics that is not discussed enough or at all. Here is the link to her article: http://www.selfpublishingadvice.org/opinion-ethics/
Jane made a strong push for the Alliance to tackle this issue because she felt we owed it to readers. There have been some very high-profile, head-line grabbing cases of unethical behaviour along the lines you suggest and this is seen as putting all self-published authors under a cloud and frightening off reviewers and book bloggers.
That is why, as I read things, the Alliance decided to tackle this issue. I don’t think you’re particularly naïve, Roy. Most authors are ethical. Like any profession – we have the good apples and the bad. And, without a doubt, there is always this push to legitimize new groups and organizations with codes of conduct. A valid argument can also be made for the fact that since adhering to the code is a voluntary act – what is the point.
All that being said, I think, for myself, it’s important to make a statement about my ethical practice of being a self-published author – for my own readers. I would also like to alert others coming into the field of self-published authors to the fact that it doesn’t have to be the wild west out there – you can hold to a set of guidelines and these are good ones. I can’t tell you the number of how-to books and articles I’ve read that are advising, in my opinion, unethical practice to get ahead as a self-published author.
Thanks for the great question, Roy. I’ve enjoyed the chance to elaborate on why I choose to support the Alliance’s Code.
Ah, I see it’s the Code of Ethics that’s been created by an existing association. The Alliance is, I’m sure, a fine body.
My reply and your second comment must have passed each other through cyberspace – gave me a chuckle, for sure. Oh well – still good to be able to elaborate my choice, even though you get it.
Yeah, ALLi certainly is!
Thanks, Clare. It’s nice to get on the ALLi bandwagon over this code.
This is brilliant! A fellow reviewer and good friend of mine got some serious online threats and abuse from an author last year for giving an honest review of his book… That sort of thing just isn’t cool.
Thanks for the post!
You’re most welcome. We most definitely have to take a stand against the type of online harassment that your friend experienced or we face getting to a time when fear keeps readers and reviewers from giving our work an honest read and evaluation. Soon after that, no one will give reviews of self-published authors any credence at all.
Thanks so much for sharing this, Francis. What a brilliant (and long overdue) concept 😀
The code gives writers a road-map of conduct that can be really helpful for it’s clarity and breadth. Especially in terms of social media. Sometimes, it really does feel like the wild, wild west out in cyberspace. I see adopting this code as one more step on the road to being a professional writer.
Thanks so much for posting! Shared, got the badge, and included parts of the Ethical Author Code in a blog I’m finishing to be posted Dec. 1, 2014, on http://www.thebookcover.com and April 4, 2015 on http://www.sallyember.com
Best to you,
Many thanks, Sally. The more we are willing to sign-on and spread the word the better.
Thank you so much for posting. I left a comment on your site and SHARED!
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