fringed tulip_0010I’m sensitive to conflict of interest.

Sometimes it’s overt; like an author giving his own book five stars. Most times it’s more subtle.

Here’s and example of what I mean. I’m registered with an online site that lists agents and publishers and helps writers keep track of queries they send out. At least a couple times a week I get an email with updates, publishing news tips and links to relevant sites and articles.

Here’s what I received recently:

“Pinterest is a great tool to promote your books. Here are eight tips for writers on how to use it.” A link is supplied with this recommendation.

This link is to a website of a “social media manger” and the author of three related books, all self-published.

I was hoping to get some ideas from writers like myself. Something they tried that worked or wasted their time, in other words, an opinion from an objective third party.

Instead, I get advice right from the pages of the most recent book this person is trying to flog.

How likely is she to be objective about techniques she’s promoting in her book? Therein lies the conflict of interest.

Conflict of interest is a concept that seems to be incomprehensible to these constant pitchmen. They consider it passé, akin to chivalrous practices like standing when a woman enters the room, walking on the street side when accompanying a lady, opening doors, offering seats, or just plain being courteous.

Like multi-level marketing zealots, they use every occasion as an opportunity to sell. Good manners are an impediment and modesty and humility are seen as signs of weakness.

The uber-ambitious are totally self-absorbed, either myopic or suffer from tunnel vision or both, and are continually pitching some form of self-aggrandizement.

Unfortunately, this abhorrent personality type is on the increase spawned by obnoxious behavior on reality television and “Hey, look at me!” social media promotion. Indeed, in some circles they are even considered chic and trendy.

For me, I find full frontal, unabashed ambition at the best unappealing, and at the worst outright repugnant. Not surprising, it has the exact opposite effect on me as what is intended.

The same goes for conflict of interest. If I catch a whiff of it, credibility is compromised.

So how does a writer succeed without being obnoxiously ambitious and chronically comprising their credibility?

Maybe try to write something that, without promise of profit or pain, other people recommend.


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