Professionalism and ethical conduct are prerequisite for the development of every field of business or venture. Hence, the need to execute tasks in accordance with acceptable code of ethics. Players in the book publishing industry should be encouraged to conform to any laid-down code of ethics. Book publishing practitioners are entreated to uphold all ethical behaviour at all stages of the book publishing process
In Ghana, just like some other countries, there might not be a standard code of conduct available for the publishing industry. Morally and professionally, practitioners in the industry are required to abide by widely accepted code of ethical conduct. The traditional book publishing involves players such as authors, editors, publishers, designers, printers and booksellers. Each player in the book publishing workflow has a peculiar task to execute to make the final product, which is the book, to be successful. In the course of executing individual tasks, all these players must work ethically and professionally.
The author, who happens to be the creator or first person on the publishing ladder, should ensure that any written manuscript must be ethically sound, and meet internationally recognized standards. Authors are expected to be original in their writing, and should desist from any form of plagiarism. Making libelous statement is an offence, hence, authors must refrain from fabricating stories that cause havoc to a person’s reputation. Additionally, authors must provide the correct and acceptable facts and figure during writing of manuscripts. Sometimes, there is a bone of contention, when authors receive unpalatable response from editors. Authors are supposed to be patient and discuss any editorial issue with the editors of their manuscripts.
Since editors are responsible for shaping authors’ manuscript, they must do so objectively, without trashing the vision and philosophy of authors’ works. Editors must be fair and well balanced when carrying out their editorial tasks without any discrimination on grounds of ethnicity, political beliefs, gender or religious beliefs. Since every book publishing job need to meet set timelines, editors are entreated to perform their tasks in a timely manner without jeopardizing meeting of the set timelines. Editors are also required to have patience when dealing with authors: they are supposed to provide guidance to authors in order to have a quality manuscript for publication.
The publisher, who is a pivotal player in the book publishing workflow, is expected to handle and deal with submission promptly. During the selection of manuscripts submitted by authors, publishers—unless not in their area of specialisation—should not discriminate on grounds of politics, ethnicity or religious beliefs. Publishers must be able to manage any conflicts of interest that they may be confronted with, as part of discharging their duties. Publishers must be accountable for whatever they publish and should always endeavour to meet the needs of authors and readers.
Furthermore, publishers are to respect the rights of authors, as well as observe all copyright laws. Book publishers are to be honest in their financial dealings with authors and other practitioners. During the signing of book contracts, publishers should use comprehensible language, and should resolve all disputes fairly and promptly.
Just like editors and publishers, printers ought to perform their task of printing the agreed number of copies of a publication. Book printers should not procrastinate the production of a publication, rather they should work to meet the set time. Like any other business, printing businesses operate mainly to serve clients and realise profit. Furthermore, it is not the best practice, on the part of printers, to inflate cost of producing books, with the aim of generating unrealistic profit margin on a book project.
Booksellers are expected to market and sell books of quality standard. Since booksellers are part of the book chain and a channel that most readers get books from, they should ethically stock books which are of good quality. Again, booksellers should be truthful when dealing with publishers.
In conclusion, it is expected of all players in the book publishing industry to be respectful, honest, and keep private information confidential, and not use for any personal advantage. It is also expected of all practitioners, especially those working on a particular publishing project to have a good cordial and professional relation during and after the execution of publishing of books. Practitioners in the book publishing industry should be willing to accept criticisms, in order to improve on their works. Active communication should also be encouraged among players in the book publishing industry.
The writer is the Production Services Manager at Ghana Book Development Council