One of the things I want to discuss today is an author’s integrity. This can encompass many things. Obviously, the first one that comes to many peoples’ minds would be that the work isn’t stolen. And you’d be correct. Stealing another author’s work is probably right down there with pond scum.
Personally, I’ve dealt with it. Whether it’s someone parasite’ing off your idea, your branding, your marketing or even, oh I dunno, a book title that is unique. It makes your skin crawl and your brain sizzle, am I right?
But there are other aspects to an author’s integrity that we don’t quite think about. Those are the things I want to dig into.
As a small, independent publisher I see much of the same crowd and I know many of he same people my authors hang around with. If you think that I don’t hear the rumors, and see things like lies, sabotage, manipulation and more, you’re sadly mistaken.
Probably the most heinous act of one author is to assassinate the character of an undeserving fellow author. This can happen in the form of a review (or what I like to call the hyena attacks where groups of friends all converging on the author’s book), Facebook posts, interviews, and more. I like to point out to my own authors that this is deplorable behavior and if those people were to focus all that energy on marketing and engaging their own readers, they’d probably see a more fruitful result.
My advice to authors, new and veteran, is to build your reader base, and build your integrity. If you say you will have a book done by a certain date, do all that you can to do that. Be yourself, be unique. (There are no truly unique ideas, however, your take on the idea is what sets you apart.) If you hear negative talk about another author, ignore it.
Do not let negative words come out of your mouth (or be typed) toward anyone else.
I’d like to point out that this rule doesn’t apply to your close inner circle. We all need someone we can confide in and tell situations to. These people should also have good integrity and realize that there are “Vegas Rules” attached to your trust in them. However, you must understand that there is a clear, and defined difference between “gossiping” and “venting” or “explaining for the purpose of gaining advice”.
Business is Business and it’s a jungle out there. But that doesn’t mean you have to be a cannibal. Don’t chew up your own and spit them out.
In my company, I have staff and members that will tell me what they’ve seen and heard about an author, then, if they aren’t already friends with them, they will watch how they interact, what they say and how they present themselves, etc. It’s not something I ask them to do, it’s something they do on their own. They are so protective of our image and our reputation (which took tons of hard work) that they want to know if this person is going to represent us in the same protective way.
Is this a fail safe method? No. There’s always someone that will slip through the cracks, but being labeled “difficult” from a publisher is professional suicide. It will affect everything you do.
Again, Business is Business.
In the role of an author I try to be helpful, courteous, and professional at all times. I never know who I’m talking to and I understand networking as an independent author is my (and any indie author’s) lifeline. I have to deal with this group of creatives on a daily basis, so it’s important that they know they can trust me.
Believe me, I hear a lot of things about a lot of people. But because the buck stops here, as the saying goes, I’m able to weed through it and pluck out the “B.S.” rather than marinate in it. One of my mottos is: I’m allergic to bullshit.
Hopefully, this gives you an idea of what a lot of other publishers are looking at, as well. We see, we do not say, but we’re aware. In addition to publishers, you have outside opportunities that may become closed off; interviews, podcasts, radio shows, etc.
Tell me what you think about this week’s subject: Integrity. Do you feel your reputation is important? Do you think you should be judged on your reputation, good or bad? How do you avoid gossip?