skip to Main Content

Ethical Self-Publishing Campaign

Our ethical self-publishing  campaign encourages authors and self-publishing services to follow the guiding principles of putting the reader first as well as operating with transparency and courtesy to those with whom they do business.

What we at ALLi are doing

When setting out to self-publish, authors can very quickly become overwhelmed or misled. Some services are run by people who are knowledgeable, dedicated, helpful and fair; others are clueless, greedy, callous or manipulative.

In an unregulated marketplace, where the same service can cost $500 against $15,000, for pretty much the same thing, depending on where you shop; where useless services are sold at inflated prices; where one large operation with many imprints, and controversial practices dominate the information stream, how do you know who to trust?

Authors too play a part in furthering ethics and excellence in self-publishing, by creating quality work and running their businesses with transparency and courtesy.

In addition, ethical issues arise over time and we at ALLi respond to those with support and information for our authors, so that they can make informed choices.


Our Services DirectoryALLi vets services for quality, customer service and value for money. Approved services agree to our code of practice and join as Partners to be listed in our Services Directory. From editors to cover designers, our author members can choose self-publishing services safe in the knowledge that they are not being ripped off. We also have a book by John Doppler, Choose the Best Self-Publishing Services, which like all our guidebooks is free to members (available to purchase here by non-members).


Watchdog Desk: Our very own watchdog John Doppler is the first port of call for those who wish to confidentially report on  unethical behaviour within the self-publishing industry. This will be investigated and acted upon wherever possible, including issuing warnings to our authors and subscribers.


Knowledge Base: ALLi is committed to continuously providing high quality information and news related to self-publishing. Whatever the topic, our knowledge base will cover it, whether it's very basic first steps in self-publishing or looking to the future and what it may bring. We want all authors to have access to high quality information so that they can be well informed and make good decisions for themselves and their businesses. 


Author Code of Standards and Book Checklist: We share success stories where organisations have opened up to indie authors and we encourage indies to make the most of those opportunities, so that they can enjoy greater success and visibility throughout the publishing industry.

Current important ethical issues in self-publishing

Use the latest research to help you make ethical business decisions

ALLi both commissions original independent research (the Indie Author Income Survey) and collates sector data from across the world (the Big Indie Author Data Drop), to bring you the best and most complete source of self-publishing facts and figures, enabling you to make informed ethical decisions about your writing and publishing.
Did you know that library sales in the US are growing fast?


AI in writing and publishing (artificial intelligence)

While ALLi believes that AI has already become a useful tool for many authors (for example, Google Translate now allows authors to do research for their books across languages), it is also the case that all new technology has to go through a period of exploration and clarification in how it will be used ethically and legally. For example, right now AI is being applied to images (which will relate to cover designs) and writing itself. These are fascinating to explore, but have thrown up multiple issues which are still a long way from being addressed (and will likely take years to do so), such as copyright, as well as the impact it may have on the livelihood of many creatives. Keep up to date on these issues by searching for Artificial Intelligence in our Self-Publishing Advice Centre, it's a topic we'll be returning to frequently. Meanwhile these are ALLi's current guidelines:


You can read about the history of Audiblegate here. Right now, talks are happening about what practical and proactive next steps to take in this important campaign. We'll keep you updated as soon as the way forwards has been agreed.

Author Safety

Authors should respect readers by creating good quality books, but equally should be respected by readers and be safe to write. Sadly this is not always the case. We have created a safety guide for authors which we share beyond our own membership and we recommend that you read and implement it.

How you as an author can both protect yourself and act ethically in your own business

Use our Services Directory

Self-Publishing services are vetted against a range of criteria, including customer service and value for money. We rely on our own assessment, feedback from ALLi Advisors and the wider author community, internet research and sometimes mystery shopping to make our evaluations. Use our Directory to put together the perfect publishing team and support.

Members: Download your copy in the Member Zone

Use our Knowledge Base to be Well Informed

Not sure how to do something or whether there are ethical issues around it? Use our extensive knowledge base to look up how to do something and any controversies. We bring you honest, well-informed, high quality knowledge on all possible aspects of self-publishing, so you don't trip up.

Podcast with 500+ episodes: Listen to them here

Blog with 3000+ posts: Read them here

YouTube channel with 600+ videos: View them here

Report Unethical Services

If you come across people or businesses within the self-publishing world who are behaving in a way you find unethical, please let us know. We treat such information confidentially and will look into it further. If we agree with you we will be able to take measures such as warning others, raising red flags on things like awards, etc. Contact our Watchdog Desk

Be a better eco author

As authors, we can support our planet through our everyday actions. Read this article for five simple steps you can take to be an eco author and an insight into our sector's impact on the planet.

Consider accessibility to your work

Not only do multiple formats of your books help grow your writing and publishing business, they also make for greater accessibility for readers. You can read this post about making your work accessible. Consider large print books, audiobooks and ebooks. Try using a screen reader to audit your own website: does it work well? Remember to fill in the ‘alt text' on images you use, it's what a screen reader will read out when it comes to that image. If you don't add alt text, there will just be an odd pause, which may give the impression something has gone wrong. If you're attending an event such as a festival, make sure to ask if the venues are accessible, whether that's relevant to you or not: the more people ask, the more events will provide accessible venues.

Use our checklist to ensure your book is the best it can be

Use this simple checklist to ensure your book (and you as an author) are presented in your best light, so that you can confidently approach outlets such as libraries and bookshops, as well as writing associations you wish to join. Not only is it respectful to the reader, but it will help you succeed as an author.

Download your copy: click here


Here are some of the questions authors most frequently ask about self-publishing standards and quality.

As self-publishing goes mainstream, more and more authors are producing books that are indistinguishable in quality from those produced by trade publishing houses. In many cases, we are hiring the same freelance editors and designers. Some indies are even going way beyond the standard book, experimenting technologically and artistically

When authors set out to publish, most of them don’t have the necessary skills to do so. They may not know or care about publishing standards, or they may publish too soon. Writing a good book is highly challenging, as is publishing well. Self-publishing has not made either of those two feats easier.

Traditionally, publishing has worked from a scarcity model, grounded in commercial principles. It selected a few books to be published and protected their value with copyright. Now we are working from an abundance model which is grounded in creative principles.

Yes, self-publishing is enabling more poor-quality books to be published than ever before, but what’s important in an abundance model is not how many bad books are enabled but that many more good books are being enabled. Despite the growing mountain of sub-standard books, it’s not at all difficult to find great writing, and great self-published writing

The complaints about bad books drowning out the good often come from those who have vested interest. Book search algorithms are actually very effective — and getting better.

From a writing perspective, a bad book is only a precursor to a better one as long as the writer keeps writing and learning. It is one of ALLi’s key objectives to encourage indie author excellence. We encourage our members to aim high and commit to continuous creative development in writing, production, and promotion.

We don’t believe so, and the evidence so far is that digital publishing is growing writing and reading in all formats, audio (abooks) and print (pbooks) as well as electronic (ebooks).

It is true that most indie authors make most of their income from ebooks but most also choose to produce print editions, generally through POD (print-on-demand). Others work with publishing houses for their print editions. More and more indie authors now produce audiobooks too.

ALLi encourages our members to publish as widely as possible (to Apple iBooks, Kobo, and IngramSpark as well as Amazon) and in as many formats as affordable.

On the contrary, you can’t afford to not hire an editor. Editing is an essential for all writers, at every stage of development. Even prizewinning and popular authors like Hilary Mantel and Stephen King need and appreciate their editors. You need one too

Writing falls into the realm of art and self-expression. So too does self-publishing, even if you are doing it just for yourself, or for family and friends. Even then, you might choose to get some professional help.

Ultimately, publishing is a business and every business needs a budget. If you want to sell and sell well, you need to budget for editorial, proofreading, cover design and, if you intend to publish a book with complex design features, probably a formatter/typesetter too. You will also need a good website and social media set-up to market yourself and your book.

As a member of ALLi, you will be connected with our team of experienced advisors who will help, support, and guide you in making savvy commercial choices. We also provide a database of reputable and reasonably-priced service providers who are vetted ALLi Partner Members.

Despite those who like to create a phony war between author- versus trade-publishing, many of our members move happily between these options. Writers can now choose different pathways for different projects, and enjoy different phases of their writing lives. This is a good thing

The stigma that once surrounded self-publishing is dissolving as more indies experience commercial and creative success. Agents and publishers now trawl author-publishing sites (including our own) looking for writers with proven talent and fan-bases.

It’s all part of a growing movement towards author empowerment, which ALLi is proud to foster and encourage.

Showcase your Ethical Author Status

As part of our ethical author focus, we have an author member code of standards, which any author can sign up to when they agree to its guiding principles, which cover areas such as book promotion, reviews, financial ethics and plagiarism. A badge is available for free download to display on your author website. This allows you to publicly show your support for the campaign and reassure readers and reviewers. Select a size below and copy the code to embed in your site.

<a href=""><img src="" alt="I'm an Ethical Author Large" target="_blank"/></a>

<a href=""><img src="" alt="I'm an Ethical Author Medium" target="_blank"/></a>

<a href=""><img src="" alt="I'm an Ethical Author Small" target="_blank"/></a>

<a href=""><img src="" alt="I'm an Ethical Author Medium" target="_blank"/></a>

<a href=""><img src="" alt="I'm an Ethical Author Medium" target="_blank"/></a>

Join our Campaigners mailing list

Add your name and email to our Campaigners mailing list. From time to time we will ask you if you can help us with one of our campaigns, perhaps by sending an email to ask an organization to include indies (we'll give you a template to follow!), identifying poor quality awards or identifying which areas you'd like us to target next. We won't ask for anything onerous, but there is power in numbers!

Back To Top
×Close search