There’s still a lot of discrimination against self-published authors out there. Most of it is completely unwarranted, brought about by unscrupulous behavior decades ago. Some of it is well-deserved as dishonest people continue to cheat readers and would-be authors. Part of it comes from poor quality writing that self-publishing sometimes fails to prevent from being published…although traditional publishing houses often fall down on the same point. Some of it comes from the fact that poorly produced (bad binding, poor artwork, etc) books are still being printed.
Since there is little or no policing in the self-publishing industry I’d like to propose seven points of integrity for myself and others in the self-publishing industry. Why me? I’m a self-published author now but I originally trained to be a preacher. I’ve moved on but I still believe in ethical behavior.
1) I will not misrepresent myself. I will not claim to have credentials I haven’t earned. I will not follow the current trend to ‘professionalize’ trivialities to make myself sound important. I will not deny legitimate credentials I do have.
2) I will behave in a polite, professional manner as much as possible. I will not become a doormat but I will accept reasonable, mature criticism where warranted.
3) I will write well. I commit to continued growth as a writer. I recognize that language is fluid and requires ongoing study. I further commit to continued learning within my field of writing.
4) I will create original material. I will not plagiarize the work of others.
5) I will take my own vocation as an author seriously. I will not engage in the false modesty of calling myself ‘just a writer.’
6) I will take the time to examine my publishing options and choose the one that’s right for me. This includes considering potential consequences, such as the ability to switch publishers later and the limitation of rights placed on my content.
7) I will not waste the publishing industry’s time by giving up on marketing and publicity after only three or four months. I realize success in book sales comes from focused, continuous effort as much as it comes from writing interesting, informative, and entertaining material.
Will a commitment to these seven points eliminate discrimination against the self-publishing industry? No. But if even a small percentage of self-published authors declare we are serious writers with the intention of producing high quality material (and then deliver on that promise) we might not be so easily dismissed by the mainstream.
Besides, the self-publishing industry is getting bigger all the time. Isn’t it better for self-published authors to police ourselves now than to have it forced on us at a later date? One of the traditional complaints about self-publishing has been its apparent lack of accountability. We literally have nothing to lose by openly committing ourselves to do things right.
Thanks for reading. 🙂
Phyllis K Twombly