I’ve written about the association between morals and business before. I even had an excellent guest post on the subject, so it’s no secret that my morals and values play an important role in my business decisions. However, I recently discovered these two things aren’t as cut and dried as I first thought.
What Happens When You Know Too Much
Here’s the scenario: A client comes to you wanting to write a book on a subject you just happen to know a bit about. They give you the outline and main points for each chapter. Unfortunately, they’re wrong. And it isn’t a ‘I know I’m wrong but I just want to make money’. It’s a ‘I’m not wrong. I’m the expert’. Now, if you write this book, your name isn’t on it, but others will still be reading and learning from this book. Also, these mistruths aren’t glaringly obvious to anyone other than those who are familiar with the business, so it would be hard for anyone else to prove otherwise.
Do you write it, take the money, and shut up? Or do you turn away the cash and run with it?
The “Take the Money and Run Camp”
A lot of industry experts I’ve talked to about the subject say it depends on a number of things including whether or not their name is on it, how much money the project is worth, who it’s for, how big of a factual mistake it is, and many other variables.
The argument is that if it’s worth enough money, if the mistake isn’t that huge, and their name isn’t on it, they’d likely do it.
“No Way In Hell Buddy Boy”
On the other side of the fence are those who say they wouldn’t take the job regardless. They don’t care who it’s for, what it could do to or for their career, or how much money they could make. They know what’s right and what’s wrong, and they refuse to allow something false like that from hitting the virtual shelves. They’d never be able to look at themselves in the mirror if they did.
“It’s Money. Duh”
The third opinion of this is that it’s a business transaction. This is doing a job for money. Nothing more. Nothing less. Their morals and values don’t enter into the picture because their morals and values aren’t for sale. They run a profitable business, and as such, they will do what keeps that business profitable.
Personally, I have to admit I’m torn. I really abhor the idea of writing the same garbage that I’ve argued against, but at the same time, I do have a family to support. From the client’s perspective, they may know I know about the subject, but they don’t know how much I know about. Also, they’re supposed to be the experts on the subject, not you. Why would they trust you?
I’m left in a position where I don’t want to touch the project because I know a portion of it is incorrect. The client won’t just change it because the writer said so either. There’s no real way to prove it, so what do we do?
March 9, 2010 at 10:55 am | Business | 3 comments