On The Ethical Author Code And Amateurism

Image - iStockphoto: Johnnyhetfield
Image – iStockphoto: Johnnyhetfield

The Ethical Author Code

The Ethical Author Code is being promoted by the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) based in the UK. There’s more about its launch at The FutureBook conference in London here. While no one at ALLi is pointing fingers in this effort, many observers feel that it’s a pivotal one in terms of the reputational status of many seriously dedicated writers and others in publishing.

Orna Ross
Orna Ross

ALLi founder Orna Ross has noted that many in the digitally-disrupted industry of publishing tend to automatically connect stories of authors behaving badly with self-publishing.

And the traditionally published author Catherine Ryan Hyde, who is outspoken in her support of the Code, has pointed out that there may be some basis for that. “In the past,” she writes, “publishers have tended to rein authors in. And in decades past, mountains of criticism and rejection have faced authors long before their books ever saw the light of day.”

Hyde is right to point out that many authors who self-publish and have no such disciplinary support from a publisher “are learning to hear criticism in public,” not easy.

And these truths do, in fact, lead some to think that the “problem people” are in the self-publishing sector.

There’s no doubt about it, some are, yes. But not all.

The Code is something that author Jane Steen was working up to when we wrote about the topic here in August, in Eight Issues in Author Ethics. Now facilitated by ALLi, it gives writers a chance to show their interest in ethical practice by displaying a badge on their sites.

Jane Steen
Jane Steen

No, there’s no policing mechanism, and certainly no guarantee that everyone who displays the #EthicalAuthor badge is conducting him- or herself ethically. But it’s a sign of the level of concern among many thinking, committed writers that this Code has been developed at all, even to elicit a simple, symbolic gesture toward what’s right and what isn’t.

While the leadership of one large US-based authors’ organization has communicated to me that they’re not interested in having their organization associated with the Code, their position on this is not as haphazardly disdainful as that might sound. That particular group is made up of seasoned veteran authors. They come to every issue these days with backgrounds primarily in traditional publishing and are learning self-publishing as a sort of second-life skill set to use in handling their backlists and some new work.

What they’re quietly trying to distance themselves from is the most uncomfortable element of the digital dynamic’s effect on the author corps — the most negative connotations of “amateurism.”

And what a difficult word and set of concepts that is for us in publishing: “amateurism” is something we don’t like to discuss, but need to.

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There’s more: Read the full story at Thought Catalog

By Porter Ander­son | @Porter_Anderson

Writing on the Ether: Four Points: On The Ethical Author Code And Amateurism

Originally published by Thought Catalog at www.ThoughtCatalog.com



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