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Ethical Self-Publishing Campaign

Our ethical self-publishing  campaign encourages authors and self-publishing services to follow the guiding principle of putting the reader first.  

Ethical Authors, Ethical Services

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?

Through our Watchdog Desk, headed by indie author John Doppler and ALLi Director Philip Lynch, we offer a number of services that can help.

More about that below but first: authors too play a part in furthering ethics and excellence in self-publishing.

Ethical Self-Publishing: Authors

In addition to our author member code of standards for authors we run a voluntary ethical author program that is open to all .

Any author, regardless of membership or publication method, can sign up to this code, once they agree to the guiding principles. These cover areas such as book promotion, reviews, financial ethics, and plagiarism.

A badge is available for free download to display on author websites. This allows authors to publicly show their support for the campaign and reassure readers and reviewers.

Ethical Self-Publishing Services: Partner Members

Our Partner Membership offers a trustworthy guide to the global author services sector. A service must agree to being vetted by our Watchdog team and to adhere to ALLi’s Partner Code of Standards for partner members.

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.

Author members can use our searchable service database (log-in needed) to put together the perfect publishing team and support.

Ethical Self-Publishing Services: Watchdog Desk

The watchdog desk rates other self-publishing services also, not just Partner Members, through a ratings chart. We also assess awards and contests for authors.

Authors: We want to hear from you about services and awards. If you have feedback, please email the Watchdog desk Send Mail.

All communications are strictly confidential.

Ethical Self-Publishing Services: Advice and Information

We publish a range of advice and information about the best services for authors, including regular blog posts in our self-publishing advice center and 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).


Ethical Author Badges

Below you can download the Ethical Author badge, in a variety of sizes.

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 Wide" target="_blank"/></a>

Ethical Self-Publishing

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


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.

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