Industry Professional Code of Conduct


General Principles

Romance Writers of America is a nonprofit professional association whose mission is to advance the professional interests of career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy. As Romance Writers of America is one of the largest genre writers’ associations in the world, publishers and agents who are included in RWA’s Qualifying Market for Publishers and Agent Updates and/or who are invited to present workshops to or take pitch sessions from RWA members are afforded significant credibility, because the members naturally expect such publishers and agents to conduct their businesses in a manner that can be described as honest, fair, transparent, and professional.


Code Standards

All members must abide by the Code of Ethics set out in Section 6.6. Members who are also Industry Professionals must also abide by this Industry Professional Code of Conduct (“Industry Code”). Violations of this Industry Code will be governed by this section and may result in loss of privileges such as (but not limited to) listing in Market and Agent Updates, participation in workshops and pitch sessions, and the opportunity to advertise in RWA’s publications.

  • Confidentiality. Author’s financial affairs are private and confidential. Industry Professionals may not share this information except for that customarily disclosed to interested parties as part of the process of placing rights, that required by law, or information for other purposes, if agreed upon with the author in advance.
  • Compensation. An Industry Professional who represents an author in the grant of rights in any property owned or controlled by the author may not accept any other form of compensation or other payment from the acquirer of such rights. Industry Professionals shall not represent both buyer and seller in the same transaction. An Agent’s compensation for all transactions shall be derived solely from the author. Editors/Publishers shall not require authors to participate in the costs of production of their written work in any manner, including but not limited to publisher assessment of a fee or other costs for editing, preparation, and/or distribution.
  • Funds. An Industry Professional takes responsible measures to protect the security and integrity of authors’ funds. Payments for money owed to the author are made in a timely manner. Books of account, with respect to transactions concerning an author, are opened to that author upon request.
  • Honesty and Integrity. An Industry Professional shall perform his/her duties with honesty and integrity. The Industry Professional shall not mislead, deceive, dupe, defraud or victimize clients, members of the organization, the general public, or any person with whom RWA does business as an Association.
  • Inclusivity. An industry professional shall not refuse to work with any member on account of that member’s race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, or religion.
  • Information. An Industry Professional shall keep each author apprised of all matters relating to their agreements and promptly respond to the author’s reasonable requests for information.

Once an industry professional is removed from RWA’s Qualifying Market for Publishers/Agent Update, he or she may reapply for inclusion after three (3) years providing the prior Code of Ethics Violation has been dealt with to RWA’s satisfaction and that no other Code of Ethics Violations have occurred.

Industry professionals with a history of unresolved or repeated violations may be permanently banned from RWA and from participation in all future RWA sponsored activities.


Filing a Code Violation Complaint

To file a Code Violation complaint against an Industry Professional, under section 14.3, the following requirements must be met:

  • The complainant must have a personal stake and personal knowledge of the violation alleged.
  • The allegations against the Industry Professional must be in writing and signed by the complainant and delivered to RWA staff. The allegations should be described with sufficient specificity to explain the nature of the complaint. Supporting evidence should be submitted with the complaint. Anonymous allegations will not be accepted.

When the RWA staff receives a complaint concerning an Industry Professional, whether said complaint is labeled as an Industry Code Violation or not, the RWA staff will conduct an initial assessment to determine if the matter is a Professional Relations complaint, meaning it is more appropriately handled informally as a matter of advocacy, or if it rises to the level of an Industry Code Violation. The office will discuss the matter with the complainant. If the complainant agrees the matter should be handled as a matter of advocacy, it will proceed according to office policy and the complainant will be kept apprised of the ongoing issues and communications in the matter. If the Industry Professional fails to respond to requests regarding the Professional Relations complaint or fails to satisfy RWA in resolving said complaint, then the matter may be escalated to an Industry Code Violation complaint.

If the matter rises to the level of an Industry Code Violation, RWA staff shall send a letter notifying the Industry Professional of the complaint relating to an alleged violation of RWA’s Industry Professional Code of Conduct. The Industry Professional will be given 30 days to provide a written response that shall include any and all evidence supporting the defense of the complaint. All parties shall have the opportunity to review all supporting evidence and respond.

Upon the expiration of the 30-day period provided to the Industry Professional under section 14.4.3, the RWA staff shall conduct a thorough investigation of the allegations and evidence provided as quickly as possible. RWA is not limited to the evidence provided by the complainant and the Industry Professional, and may gather its own evidence, provided that the complainant and Industry Professional have the opportunity to review this evidence and respond.

At the conclusion of the investigation both parties shall be notified of the results.

Contact Deputy Executive Director Carol Ritter to discuss Industry Code Violations