The Ethical Author


"The Ethical Author" has not been a phrase or quandary I've come across during times of big publishing houses ruling the readersphere. But it comes into play more when independent authors are seeking ways to gain exposure.

Can you buy reviews?

Can you scour your friends and family for possible boosts in the amazon charts? How much do you charge for your book without the same overhead as a big box publisher?

There develops a bit of a question about the Ethical Author. A google search of this phrase will yield over 81,000 results. I found the discussion time and time again on blogs, in goodreads groups, and on amazon threads.

Most recently, digging through twitter feeds for something worthwhile, I stumbled upon a question: Are you an ethical author?

Immediately I said to myself, yes! I am fundamentally committed to keeping labor as local as possible, even if that means more expense for my product design, and I don't reflect that cost in the price of my book. I write the stories in my heart for the reader and no one else, and I've chosen the indie pub route because that allows me to be choosy, to craft my own ideal publishing house.

Want to know if you're an ethical author? Download the checklist and find out!

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The Alliance of Independent Authors offers a badge for the Ethical Author. They give you a list of responsibilities. Reading though this I felt a tug toward the importance of acknowledging the question.

Check it out:

Ethical Author Code

Guiding principle: Putting the reader first

When I market my books, I put my readers first. This means that I don’t engage in any practices that have the effect of misleading the readers/buyers of my books. I behave professionally online and offline when it comes to the following practices in my writing life:


I behave with courtesy and respect toward readers, other authors, reviewers and industry professionals such as agents and publishers. If I find myself in disagreement, I focus on issues rather than airing grievances or complaints in the press or online, or engaging in personal attacks of any kind.


I do not hide behind an alias to boost my own sales or damage the sales or reputation of another person. If I adopt a pen name for legitimate reasons, I use it consistently and carefully.

Reviewing and Rating books

I do not review or rate my own or another author’s books in any way that misleads or deceives the reader. I am transparent about my relationships with other authors when reviewing their books.

I am transparent about any reciprocal reviewing arrangements, and avoid any practices that result in the reader being deceived.

Reacting to reviews

I do not react to any book review by harassing the reviewer, getting a third party to harass the reviewer, or making any form of intrusive contact with the reviewer. If I’ve been the subject of a personal attack in a review, I respond in a way that is consistent with professional behaviour.

Book Promotions

I do not promote my books by making false statements about, for example, their position on bestseller lists, or consent to anyone else promoting them for me in a misleading manner.


I know that plagiarism is a serious matter, and I don’t intentionally try to pass off another writer’s words as my own.

Financial ethics

In my business dealings as an author, I make every effort to be accurate and prompt with payments and financial calculations. If I make a financial error, I remedy it as soon as it’s brought to my notice.


I take responsibility for how my books are sold and marketed. If I realise anyone is acting against the spirit or letter of this Code on my behalf, I will refer them to this Code and ask them to modify their behaviour.


Especially at a time when finding reviews is difficult. When your book feels like one-in-a-million-in-a-mire, do you stick to your feelings about quality, readership, and responsibility? I'd love to hear your thoughts about this.

Are you an ethical author?

Download your very own ethical author checklist and find out!

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