#FutureChat recap: Can #EthicalAuthor break through the scepticism?

#FutureChat recap: Can #EthicalAuthor break through the scepticism?

Join us each Friday for our weekly #FutureChat with The FutureBook digital publishing community, live on Twitter at 4 p.m. London (GMT), 5 p.m. Rome, 11 a.m. New York, 8 a.m. Los Angeles. 
A funny thing happens when you start talking about ethical behaviour in one setting or another: suddenly everybody was there first.   I don't think this is specific to the authorial community or the wider publishing community: I think we'd find that in almost any industry, a move toward guidelines for ethical business conduct would find itself surrounded by a small flotilla of "us, too!" and "already did it!" and "everybody knows that!"   The best reason for this, of course, is that it's widely understood that ethical ways of working are the right ways of working. Treating customers and colleagues as you'd like to be treated, yourself, makes so much good sense that arguing against it is not far from coming out in favour of war, famine and pestilence.   Still, what seems to remain open to discussion when the saints come marching in seems to fall into two major categories, at least as indicated by our #FutureChat on the new Ethical Author Code being facilitated by the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) and announced by the organisation's founder, Orna Ross, at the FutureBook Conference earlier this month.  
  • First: there are issues that tend to fall into the category of, "How do you make anybody do anything differently?"
  • Second: there are issues that might be callsed, "We've been doing this for ages, where have you been?"
  An example of the second seemed to arise after our #FutureChat, proper, had finished. The Michigan-based self-publishing author and frequent chat participant Camille LaGuire had an exchange with Ross about it. Some of their tweets:   What can certainly be said for ALLi's enabling efforts in the #EthicalAuthors programme, as it's hashtagged, is that the organisation wasn't around three years to take up the issue then. And if, as LaGuire tells us, people three years ago wanted to create badges relative to guidelines for responsible author business conduct, those efforts may not have panned out. This time there is a badge, and authors download it to their sites to indicate their support of the straightforward code of conduct it lays out. Pembrokeshire's Judith Barrow, in fact, had tweeted out her particpation in the programme with badge attached: As many have pointed out, there is no enforcement method. That, too, seems to be a drawback for some, although I notice that no one ever seems to want to suggest how enforcement might be accomplished or whether that would even be desirable. It is, in short, the kind of issue that can raise a lot of conversation. One of the things I asked our intrepid #FutureChat group was whether they had any ideas of why the initial uptake of the Ethical Author Code seemed a bit muted. Pam Stucky rose to answer that this way: In getting the discussion going, there was no lack of excitement, as Melinda Primrose made clear in a funny tweet: Tim Lewis jumped right to the issue of enforcement when asked if he'd availed himself of the new badge as yet: Co-author of the Ethical Author programme guidelines, Chicago-based Jane Steen was interested in Primrose's choice not to download the badge: That's where ALLi member and Libiro (all-indie) online bookseller Ben Galley stepped in: And undaunted by the "where's the enforcement?" questions, Steen confirmed her high aspirations for the programme: If anything, the guidelines, themselves, don't seem to be in much contention, as David Neal confirmed from his own perusal of them: John Robin had joined us for his first #FutureChat, having read my comments about the day's topic at Writer Unboxed: CM Riordan joined us to voice another frequently heard bit of skepticism: But Galley was ready to go: We can always count on Lewis for a wry switch on prevailing commentary in #FutureChat: Fran Pickering brought us another reason to hold back: Editor Carla Douglas was interested in how widespread unethical behaviour among authors might be: Behaviour that might be considered unethical, as Douglas pointed out, can span quite a range: Victoria Noe from Chicago raised the question of whether some publicists and marketing people may be pressuring authors toward at least strident, if not unethical, behaviour online: A slight detour: And another: And yet another: Again I asked why the uptake may be slower, quieter than expected on the new Ethical Author programme: Did I mention that Lewis likes to give us the wise-acre response? As you can see, there was no shortage of conversation on this one, and before it was over, nobody was getting out easily:
  Join us each Friday for our weekly #FutureChat with The FutureBook digital publishing community, live on Twitter at 4 p.m. London (GMT), 5 p.m. Rome, 11 a.m. New York, 8 a.m. Los Angeles.  Main image - Shutterstock: simonalvinge