Thursday, January 5, 2023

Make It Happen Thursday: The Ethical Author Campaign and Other Thoughts


So, I found a link to a post about something called "The Ethical Author Campaign."

According to the post:

The Ethical Author Code was first devised as a “Big Idea” for The Bookseller's  FutureBook Conference 2014. The idea was to give authors a way to signal to readers that their publishing business activities are aligned with industry best practices.

I don't believe there's a problem with me sharing the tenets of the Ethical Author Campaign. In the interest of full disclosure, I didn't create this list, I copy-pasted it.

The 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 and buyers of my books.


I behave with courtesy and respect toward readers, other authors, reviewers and industry professionals such as agents and publishers. I behave professionally online and offline. 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 behavior.

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.

Use of Tools and AI

I edit and curate the output of any tool I use to ensure the text is not discriminatory, libellous, an infringement of copyright or otherwise illegal or illicit. I recognise that it is my job to ensure I am legally compliant, not the AI tool or service I use. I declare use of AI and other tools, where appropriate.


I take responsibility for how my books are sold and marketed. If I realize 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 behavior.

I'm already transparent about things. I don't overprice my books, or claim to be some sort of guru, ultimate authority, or anything of that nature. I don't badmouth other writers to make myself seem superior. Doing that would just make me look like an ass. 

I do wonder a bit about the wording on this:

If I adopt a pen name for legitimate reasons, I use it consistently and carefully.

I mean...what?

What are illegitimate reasons for adopting a pen name?

As far as I know, there are two reasons people use pen names. The first is fear for their well-being including their professional well-being if they write under their own name. The second is because they want to use a pen name to differentiate their writing persona from their everyday self. 

And now, let's have a little fun. 

Are the names H. P. Lovecraft or J. K. Rowling pen names?

I say no. The legal names of these authors are Howard Phillips Lovecraft and Joanne K. Rowling. However, when Ms. Rowling writes crime novels under the name Robert Galbraith, she is using a pen name.

If Stephen King were to write as S.E. King, that wouldn't be a pen name, it would just be Stephen King using his first name and middle initial with his last name. Richard Bachman, however, was a pen name for Stephen King. 

The Richard Bachman story is fun to read. Basically, it boils down to Stephen wondering if people would still enjoy his work if it didn't have the Stephen King brand. 

Also, according to the Wikipedia article, "At the beginning of King's career, the general view among publishers was that an author was limited to one book per year, since publishing more would be unacceptable to the public."

This isn't why I have two pen names. I write in radically different genres. I thought it would muddy the waters too much to publish both my erotic and non-erotic stories under the same name. I also wanted to differentiate my fiction writing from my poetry and nonfiction. 

I chose the name Lil DeVille for my erotica author pen name because I felt it was both very feminine and very cheeky. Lil's a Li'l Devil writing her naughty stories, geddit? 

I initially published my Lovecraftian fiction using the pen name Team Netherworld to represent the various writing personas I'd developed over the years to help me deal with my trauma. I never had dissociative identity disorder. I've always been one "me," but that self was badly fractured, so I developed various personas to help me through. As I started to build my self-esteem a bit more, I realized the "Team Netherworld" pen name was a bit cumbersome, so I replaced it with C. L. Hart.

Although C and L are my real first and middle initials and Hart is the first syllable of my surname, I categorize this moniker as an actual nom de plume. I wouldn't be able to use it in a legal and binding context. C. L. Hartley is a variation of my name that I could use to sign documents. C. L. Hart is not.

Some might say "C. L. Hartley seems like a perfectly good name to use as a byline. Why didn't you use that?"

Well, because I use my real name as a byline on the Ornery Owl Poetry Collections, so I wanted something a little different for the byline on my non-erotic fiction. 

I plan to use my first name and last initial as the byline on my nonfiction memoir/self-help workbooks in keeping with the AA and NA tradition. You may wonder why I'd do this since I've never gone through recovery for alcohol or narcotics. 

While I used to be a heavy drinker and I did use drugs, sometimes fairly heavily, I was never addicted to either substance and I stopped using them on my own. However, I am not fully recovered from my trauma and I still have a tendency to sabotage myself. I like the tenet of AA and NA where people only use their first names. It doesn't matter if the person is well-known or unknown. 

Nobody has any more inherent worth than anyone else. That's the point I'm trying to get across by using Cara H as my byline on the Ornery Owl Diary and Workbook series. I'm neither better nor worse than anyone else. When I create these books with the intent of helping others, I am not Cara Hartley, Poet and Writer. I am not C. L. Hart, author of weird fiction. I am not Lil DeVille, High Priestess of Pornographic Cheek. I'm Cara H aka Ornery Owl, someone who quite possibly should not be alive given the abuse heaped on me by myself and others, but I'm here anyway and maybe there's a reason for that. 

And why Ornery Owl you may ask?

Perhaps in part simply because I like owls. However, another part of the answer lies in the serenity prayer.

grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.

The severed, broken, damaged, abused, lonely, outcast human does not always possess that wisdom. The Owl knows, and she is Ornery enough to persevere. 

That's the reason behind Ornery Owl.

Free use image from Vintage Snips and Clips on Pixabay

Eugenia hosted Make It Happen Thursday at the Go Dog Go Cafe blog from 2018 to 2022. She stepped aside at the end of 2022 to concentrate on her other blogs. I'm not sure if anyone else will take up the reins, but I still like the Make It Happen Thursday concept--when I'm not doing FOAD Thursday, that is! 

Go Dog Go Cafe is still worth a visit!

1 comment:

  1. The idea of a code of ethics is interesting. Thanks for sharing!


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