I just read a very interesting post by Porter Anderson on the topic of ethics for independent authors. (Original article: http://thoughtcatalog.com/porter-anderson/2014/08/8-issues-in-author-ethics/) I think there is a great deal to be said for elevating self-publishers and independent authors to the point where our work isn’t dismissed out of hand by so many.
It is our job as independent authors to show that generalizations of poor quality and sub-standard content are just that…generalizations.
I’ve always prided myself on the way I conduct my career as an independent author. I work very hard to put out a quality product that I, myself, would be willing to pay for. As such, I’m willing to take up the gauntlet of the ethical challenge for independent authors.
This manifesto is my answer to the question of ethics and I share it openly with both my readers and my fellow authors in hope that more indies will step up and make a public declaration of their intent to stand head and shoulders above the common denominator.
My Independent Author Manifesto
1. I will: always strive to produce and release a professional, complete, and error-free final product to my readers and listen to their feedback on any issues that should be addressed post-publication in the event that errors (as they often do) slip through the best laid plans.
2. I will: always treat my readers with the respect they deserve, regardless of whether or not they like or agree with what I write. When an independent author interacts with his or her readers in a negative way, it impacts the reputation of all.
3. I will not: resort to dishonest, underhanded, or manipulative ways of gaining an advantage over my fellow authors.
4. I will: allow my works to stand on their merits, accepting gracefully the opinions rendered by my readers and associates.
5. I will not: review other author’s works and I will strongly discourage other authors from reviewing my works, in an attempt to maintain the integrity of the review cycle. There are plenty of readers to go around. Authors shouldn’t need to review their peer’s works.
6. I will not: purchase reviews for my works, unless such a purchase is made from a legitimate, respectable, industry-standard source of reviews, such as Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, etc., wherein the reviews can be dependably counted on to be objective and assess the complete work on its merit.
7. I will: make every effort to ensure that readers I interact with know who I am, what I’ve authored, and that I am representing myself in an “official” (for lack of a better word) capacity when frequenting the same circles (social media, forums, etc.).
8. I will not: employ fake accounts, sock puppets, shill accounts, or any other deceptive means to manipulate reviews, rankings, or ratings of my works, promotions, or other endeavors.
I understand that any attempt to impose ethics onto a group is likely to be ignored by those most in need of the guidance. However, it will at least provide an outward signal to readers and our fellow authors alike that some of us take our ethical duties as professionals seriously.