The Army has these things called Army Values. They make up the acronum LDRSHIP and stand for Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage. In our society, we pay a lot of lip service to these things but at the end of the day, how many of us really ever think about these values or any other values in our day to day lives.
When I was in New York this summer for RWA Nationals, I was at the Random House party and talking with a thriller author and his wife and his editor. We were just making conversation and it came up that he’d been with the same editor for over 10 years. I remarked that I thought that was pretty odd and they both agreed that it was but that hey, it worked for them, right? They were a good team and the author was pretty stuck on being with the team.
Now this post is NOT about staying with a publisher or with anyone out of loyalty, so don’t misconstrue that. But, in the publishing world and in the business world in general, how much does loyalty matter? I’ll tell you the first thing that comes to mind: brand loyalty. Companies want you to become loyal to this thing called a brand. Ok, whatever. That’s not a value, that’s a psychological reaction but anyway.
Do you make decisions at all based on any type of values system? Do you make a decision based on what’s right or what the ethical thing is to do? How many times do we as a society consider what the right thing to do even is?
And on a personal level, who are you loyal to? I’ll tell you in my Army life, there are a handful of people I am loyal to. That could pick up the phone today and call me and I would bend over backwards to do whatever it was they needed. A handful. Not everyone I ever served with. Not every old boss. Maybe dozen people tops that I would say I have loyalty to.
The same thing goes in the writing world. There have been a whole lot of people who have helped me, listened to me, supported me over the years. I have loyalty to them. I would drop everything to read for them or publish a blog or do anything I could to help support whatever they’re doing because they were there for me.
Loyalty is not given freely. Loyalty is not something everyone earns or even deserves. If I have no loyalty to you, does that make me a bad person? A bad writer? No, I don’t think it does unless my lack of loyalty to you means that I would in turn to unethical things to you.
I guess the whole point of this post is to ask the question: who are you loyal to? What would you do for that loyalty? What does that loyalty keep you from doing and is that a good or a bad thing?