Monday, November 18, 2013

Non-Peer Authors and Publisher-Related Advice

AJC1 / Foter.com / CC BY-SA
I have always been aware that asking for peer-advice from an author can be a minefield, especially in the small and digital press.  There is always a chance that the author you approach is actually an insider to the company--an owner, editor, artist, or friend of the above. But this forum post is the first time I have read someone who claims that an author approached for peer-advice about a publisher praised the publisher and did not disclose their interest as an owner of the press.*

So here is my 2c.  When giving peer advice to authors considering a press please disclose anything that even looks like a conflict of interest, in the service of transparency and fairness.  This means not only the obvious (being an owner or salaried staff member) but also being a commission-based staff member, friend of the owner, or even an author who has worked with the press long enough to develop friendships and emotional affinity to the company.  Or if you feel you cannot provide objective feedback perhaps referred them to another author or just do not reply.

In the long run fostering unrealistic expectations is going to cause a press more trouble than letting the chips fall where they may.

*Edited to note the person in question categorically denies that they did this.

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