Motivated by a combination of Don Maass’s “Writing the Breakout Novel” (a million thanks to Tammy Salyer for recommending it), recent and well-publicized kerfluffles in the community, and some recent reading about personal accountability and perfection, I present you with The Author’s Pledge – just in time for NaNoWriMo!
The Author’s Pledge
I, [author name], pledge that I will support the writing and reading community, both by emphasizing quality in all aspects of my own work, and by supporting writers, readers, and industry professionals. This means that…
- I will be vocal in my support of a reader’s right to dislike any book, in my support of authors whose books and personal characters have been unfairly targeted, and in my opposition to the concept of banning books
- I will not leap to conclusions in internet kerfluffles. Instead I will weigh the evidence and if necessary make a carefully-worded statement
- I will remember why I love books, and why books are important to society. Because of this, I will thank the authors whose work has challenged me, inspired me, and gotten me through really tough times in my life – and if I am lucky enough to have fans who tell me the same things about my books, I will make time to listen to them and thank them for reading
- I will pay it forward by sharing my hard-won knowledge with other authors, without fear that their books will surpass my own
- I will remember that authors are not in direct competition with each other, and I will promote deserving work without fear for my own sales
- I will remember that we are all here because we love books, and I will therefore judge other authors and publishing professionals by the quality of their work, by their comportment as an individual, and by nothing else
- I will remember that just because my name is on the cover, the book was not produced by me alone, because no book is. I will acknowledge and thank everyone whose work has gone into my books: my editors, copy-editors, formatters, cover artists, agents, publicists, lawyers, friends who got me coffee and listened while I sobbed about my work, fans, beta readers, book bloggers, and anyone else whose effort has contributed to the final product
- I will understand that writing is an art I can always hone but never master, and I will strive to make my work better by writing, reading, and accepting criticism
- Before I send a book to my editor, beta reader, or agent, I will not accept a single word, phrase, paragraph, or plot point that is “good enough.” So help me, I will beat my head against that piece until it as perfect as I can make it on my own
- I will edit my work with increasing ruthlessness every book, and I will also admit that I alone cannot be responsible for editing my own work. Then I will seek editing help*
- I will put my readers first by emphasizing quality in all things: writing, editing, cover art, formatting, and any other facet of book publishing that may exist in the future. If I cannot complete a task on my own, I will find someone who can, because that is what my readers deserve
- I will take final responsibility for the work that comes out under my name
May your NaNoWriMo (or November, if every month is NaNoWriMo for you) be fruitful and illuminating!
* Seriously, people, I cannot stress this enough. DO NOT make the mistakes I have made. Get editing help. This is a piece of hard-won knowledge that I hope you spread as much as possible.