And How Can It Affect the Success of Your Book
Ethical publishing is a concept I came up with in the infancy of Courage Publishing, and naturally didn't realize how much of a true novelty it was until I had been a part of the industry for a while.
When I first published and was navigating the writing industry (without much knowledge or research put into it, mind you), I found myself coming up against barriers set up by “industry professionals” who seemed to buck against budding new and aspiring authors. I didn’t understand why the process was so difficult to get an agent or a publisher that wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg to work with. Why was it that I had to run up against hidden fees for "reputable" sources when it came to the contracts or hybrid publishers masking as trade?
What is ethical publishing and why does it matter?
It is transparency about the process from start to finish before an author signs any sort of contract. There is open communication and honesty from both sides because that is what a partnership of any kind is supposed to look like.
Transparency with costs is also huge. So many hybrid publishers especially hide the fact that so many basic fundamental steps in the process are actually missing from their fees (I'm looking at you, Marketing), and that can really hinder the success for a book. We are up front about the hours we allocate to what in the process so you know exactly what you are getting from us and what kind of work you will need to put in as well.
We are also interested in negotiating terms that benefit the creators of the work. So often, authors are screwed out of profits and decisions with the look and style of their works because of missed information or purposeful redirection from the start. As an author myself, I understand wanting to see the vision for your book baby come to its full and true potential, so all decisions are mutual and thoroughly discussed ahead of time.
Making the author a priority when advocating for rights is another aspect of ethical publishing and fits right into what we've been talking about already. While agents and publishers need your works to make money, very rarely do they actually need you as the author, so they will do their best to create a salable book based on their opinions and rarely ask for your input at all. Having people to carefully outline all of the benefits and disadvantages for you before you move forward in the process is key.
Setting realistic and helpful boundaries that allow all parties to navigate the process well is vital to maintaining healthy working relationships between authors and other professionals in the industry and is a key part of keeping an ethical business relationship. So many authors have no idea about the finer workings of the publishing process, so identifying goals and being open about the best ways to achieve them or what may not work for what they are going for is important.
It is our job as professionals with experience beyond that of the author to be a champion/advocate for intellectual property and carefully navigate new technologies and platforms to ensure good practices. I never want anyone to feel as I did publishing for the first time and constantly questioning if every move I made was the correct one for the book I created.
So, I created this concept of ethical publishing to combat the almost-blind process an author goes through as they publish, especially with agents and publishers. I needed there to be more transparency and partnership from the author’s side of things, and this idea aided us at Courage in creating a consultation space where we work with authors through the query process, some contract reviewing, and even query building as a team. No one should feel like an island, and writing is lonely enough as it is. We have your back.
We are always looking to work with published and aspiring authors. If you're interested in having a helpful and knowledgeable team at your side, book a free consultation to discuss your goals and possible paths to success.
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Lexi Mohney is an award-winning, self published author and a book coach living in Ann Arbor, MI. Throughout her writing and coaching career, she's lived by the motto of "six seconds of insane courage," and worked with her own coaches, groups, and support system to see her Big Audacious Dreams come true. Her greatest goal is to help others achieve success of their own. Her first published piece, Carnal Knowledge, won an award at the 7th Annual Bisexual Book Awards in NYC in June 2019. These days, you can find her working with clients or on her own writing (you can't have writer's block on multiple books at once). Contact her through her website or on social media.