Authors Guild Principles

These core principles are official positions of the Authors Guild adopted by vote of its Council.

Core Principles

Click a principle below to read more.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility

We believe that racism and racist behavior has no place in the publishing industry, and we will continue to elevate the voices of Black writers and other writers of color who have too long been suppressed.

Read Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility

Empowering Writers Against Sexual Harassment

We believe that empowering a multitude of voices is the way we can achieve the rich, diverse body of literature and stand firmly against the silencing of authors through sexual harassment or bias.

Read Our Statement Condemning Intimidation, Discrimination, and Harassment

Fair Payment

We believe authors should not be required to write or speak without compensation. Writers, like all professionals, should receive fair payment for their work.

Sometimes you may want to offer your services free, out of friendship or charity or public spirit. That is your choice. But no one is entitled to demand that you write or speak gratis—”for exposure,” as they say.

If you’d like support in declining an offer, here’s our statement for you to quote in your response. We stand behind you: Writers’ work is essential to our culture and should be valued and treated with respect.

The Authors Guild condemns the practice of nonpayment of writers by profitable publications. This practice is unethical and degrading, and it erodes the trust and integrity that should provide the foundation of a reputable publication.

Right to Distribute

We believe authors may choose how and by whom their works are copied, distributed, or otherwise made available to the public.

Copyright gives you control over the distribution of your work, in any and all channels and media.

There are “fair use” exceptions for small portions, for certain purposes, and the Authors Guild believes in the importance of the fair-use doctrine. But, for example, if an academic institution makes an electronic copy of your entire book freely available, this is a violation of copyright. It’s illegal unless you give them permission. When in doubt, ask us. We’re here to support you.


We believe authors should receive proper credit and attribution for their work.

You are entitled to be identified as the author of your work. Whether to publish your work anonymously or to use a pseudonym should be your choice to make. To claim another writer’s words as one’s own is a form of theft.


We believe authors should be able to retain ownership of their copyrights and to recover those rights if a publisher is unwilling or unable to exploit them.

Some publishers or publications may demand that you assign your copyright to them. It is important for writers to maintain ownership of the work they license, so that they have some say over future uses.

We believe that you should maintain control of your work if you wish. And we will help you recover rights when a publisher lets your work go out of print or otherwise fails in its obligations.

Book Banning

We believe that books should not be censored or banned.

Book banning is on the rise. We see efforts from groups on both the left and the right to stop the publication of, or restrict access to, certain books, because they fear the ideas expressed in them or they disapprove of the conduct of the authors. School boards and libraries have removed books, while recent state and local laws make it a crime for teachers and librarians to provide access to books that deal with sexuality, sexual identity, race, and other subjects, and attempts have even been made to prohibit their sale. Some groups have demanded that publishers not publish the books of certain authors whose political or social views they find objectionable. The intimidation of teachers, librarians, authors, editors, and publishers has also created a climate of fear that encourages self-censorship.

A healthy democracy requires vigorous literary debate, a diversity of ideas, and a tolerance for discourse that some find offensive or challenging. Regardless of one’s political, social, or religious views, suppressing books is anti-democratic, harmful, and a dangerous step toward autocracy.