Thursday, August 30, 2012

Indie Ethics....

Instead of discussing my personal level of awesome (incidentally-- I am at level thirteen-thousand and sixty-two), today I would like to discuss a situation that I have observed as a matter of of ethics.

Before continuing I will tell you that:
1.  My opinion is based neither on the author's writing ability, nor on the content of his work.  For that reason I will keep the names private so as to not become one of the Internet trolls that I so greatly despise.
2.  Neither party involved is me.... just so you know  :)
3.  My opinion may be unfairly affected by the fact that I am cranky and have a rotten cold.

Okay, today I happened across a fellow Indie author that was (extremely) upset because Amazon had removed his book from their site.  After being published for nearly a year and receiving mediocre sales and attention the Author (let's call him 'C') retitled his work to resemble (a one word difference) that of a new bestseller that was climbing amazon's top one-hundred.  Additionally he created a new cover that was designed to mimic the cover of the best seller.

C freely admits to repackaging his work in hopes that readers will mistake it for the other title.  I believe his actions were down right despicable, and made even worse when you take into account that, while the topics are similar, his is a work of fiction and the bestseller is an autobiography. 

C had lots of insane things to say about amazon's 'illegal actions' and their attempt to 'violate his ability to compete fairly in the marketplace'.  Most of his statements do not bear repeating because if you can imagine a cranky twelve-year old that got caught cheating in class than you can basically recreate C's entire argument.

Amazon was WELL within their rights to terminate the sale of his book.

My question is not about legality, but rather about ethics.

As Indie Authors, do we have a responsibility to each other as well as to our readers to hold ourselves to a higher standard and supply quality well represented products?

If you are buying Sophie Kinsella's or Nora Robert's newest novel than you are going to expect a more professional, polished, original work of fiction.  Big selling traditionally published authors have unimaginable resources at their disposal to ensure the highest possible quality before their novels are released to the public.

I am more than willing to admit and understand that when a reader purchases an indie title they are taking more of a gamble.  As an indie author, I am the only one required to sign off on my novel's readiness for the market.  Additionally, the editors, cover artists, and beta readers available to us are (in most cases) less experienced, less invested, and in many cases they are 'hobbiests'.   This is all before you take into account our lower budgets.  Because it is just plain bad business to spend more than you can hope to recoup in sales.  We do, after all, need to earn a living.  Shouldn't we do our best to thank readers for taking a chance on us by ensuring that they receive exactly what they were expecting.

C feels that his misrepresentation of his own work in an effort to gain sales was merely a common publicity tactic that should be allowed by amazon and applauded by his fellow Indies.

Personally, I feel that we should be allowed to run him out of town on a rail. 

A well debated topic is the differences in quality between traditionally published and indie authors.  Some readers go so far as to say that if it was worth reading than it would have a Random House insignia on the copyright page. 

Is it unfair that we often have our hard work unfairly judged before it is even read? 

Yes.  But life isn't fair.  (See Mom, I listen!)  We can't force readers to take us seriously.  We can only strive to prove to them through our work that we are in fact serious.

I would be interested in your take on the above described atrocity.

I will now step off my soap box and go pay a visit to my dear friend Dayquil.

1 comment:

  1. Good points! I think that you should hold yourself to a higher standard, period. Thanks for speaking out on this!