The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) has unveiled its Ethical Author code, which includes guidance on how self-published writers should conduct themselves when it comes to reviews, book promotion and more.
Ethical Author was announced by ALLi director Orna Ross at The Bookseller’s FutureBook Conference today (14th November) during the Big Ideas panel.
The initiative is described as a “practical approach to author ethics, responding directly to months of controversy surrounding author-reviewer relations, in particular”.
Any author can sign up to the code, co-authored by Jane Steeni, and download a badge which they can use to publicly show their support.
Among other things, authors who sign up to the code agree not to hide behind an alias to boost their sales or damage the sales of other authors, or to review their own or other authors’ books in a way which “misleads or deceives the reader”.
The code also covers reactions to reviews, with authors agreeing not to react to reviews “by harassing the reviewer, getting a third party to harass the reviewer, or making any form of intrusive contact with the reviewer”.
The Guardian recently ran a piece by author Kathleen Hale who described how, after receiving a negative review, she tracked down the reviewer to her home and workplace, as she believed the author had “catfished” her. A "catfish" is the name given to someone who uses social media to set up false identities.
Other areas in the code cover plagiarism, financial ethics and book promotions.
Ross said: “The need for ethical guidance for authors has never been more necessary and this is an industry-wide issue. Some influential book bloggers and commentators have been heard saying they won’t review books by self-publishers because of the recent scandals but ethics -- and their lack -- transcend publication method.”
ALLi hopes other writer organisations will encourage their members to adopt the code and download the badge, or debate the issue.
Ross said: “Numerous platforms and technologies have brought readers and writers closer together. Ethical Author aims to nurture these ties so that the behaviour of a few will not threaten the democratisation of publishing that has been so invigorating.Rather than being confined to the sidelines of the industry, self-publishing authors can lead the charge in promoting a better book world.
“We encourage authors of all stripes to adopt the Ethical Author Code.”