Is Authonomy authentic?

January 16, 2009 · 63 comments

Bren MacDibble alerted me on Facebook to  some grumblings about HarperCollins’ Authonomy site.

Authonomy participant, Alexander McNabb, fought his way to a top 5 ranking on the site, spurred on by the promise that each month HarperCollins would read the Top 5 ranked manuscripts. What he got was not what he expected.

But the HC review of my book (next to the gold star on the book page) was slapdash and odd. And many other writers who’d got to the top of the ‘greasy pole’, as some called it, got the same feeling. Now, over 25 chart-topping reviews, five months, into the exercise, HC has not asked for ONE full read from a writer whose book reached the top, let alone taken anything further to any degree.

Yesterday, HC sent me a note offering me the chance to put my books up as POD (Print on Demand or Publish on Demand) books on authonomy. Soon, according to the email, all books on authonomy will be available as POD books but for now only ‘a few early adopters’ have been offered the opportunity – and a ‘gift’ of the first 10 books free.

For those who’ve not discovered it yet, Authonomy is HarperCollins UK’s social networking experiment for authors. Authors can upload all or part of their manuscripts to an online community. The best ranked submissions, based on the community’s votes, are read by HarperCollins editors. Members also have  chance to converse and swap critical feedback.

I’m not a member of Authonomy and am certainly not in a position to judge whether Alexander’s account is accurate. But regardless of whether HC editors are reading full manuscripts or not, the move toward POD sales of members’ books is disquieting.

My best friend‘s favourite adage is “It’s all about managing expectations.” HarperCollins have clearly encouraged certain expectations among aspiring authors flocking to the site.  Authonomy’s tag line is “Beat the Slush” which holds out to authors the promise of catching the attention of publishers who are seeking fresh new talent. In the original media release that accompanied the announcement of Authonomy, HarperCollins stated:

For aspiring authors the site is both a new route to publication with a leading publishing house and a genuine base from which to build a long-term following online.

Authonomy also reinforced this expectation on the site itself, both in the FAQs and in its own “HarperCollins response” thread on the forum:

We thought this would be obvious, but perhaps we need to spell this one out: Our editors _do_ browse the site looking for manuscripts that meet their requirements and if we like something we follow up directly. (To pre-empt the sceptical who seem to doubt everything we say – yes, we’re in dialogue with a number of authors from authonomy).

HarperCollins have at no point promised any author any outcome at all, other than to read the most popular content posted to the site. But all of these messages create a very strong expectation: that Authonomy was set up as a pathway to publication for aspiring authors.

If it’s true HarperCollins will now be offering members the opportunity to sell their work to the community via print on demand (presumably for a fee, or by ceding some rights and sales revenue), members would be justified in feeling their expectations have been betrayed. Many Authonomy members have posted their own reactions on the site’s forums. Here are a few:

“Authonomy has moved from potentially innovative to concretely exploitative.” Richard P-S

“Slow-moving slush pile is one thing… but captive market and preying on our desires to be published is another thing. It’s just cruel. Lulu already exists… and at least you know what you’re doing when you sign in there.” macdibble

“If I wanted to POD, I’d have gone (as I think Diane said) to Lulu by now. I don’t. I thought that, no, was led to believe that authonomy was a genuine effort to create a peer-reviewed, community based filter for publishable writing. And by publishable, I don’t mean POD.” alexander

I will emphasise not all responses from Authonomy users on the forums are negative ones. For balance, I recommend you read through the threads yourself to assess what the reaction has been, but to me it appears the majority of users (at least those bothering to voice their thoughts on the forum) are feeling misled.

At the heart of this anger and disquiet in the Authonomy membership is HarperCollins’ failure to understand online communities. Authonomy has all the trendy social networking bells and whistles. It’s got well-trafficked discussion boards and user-generated content. But social networking platforms at their most vibrant cede control to the community, they don’t (in fact can’t) hoard it for the platform developer. (Which is why Facebook is having trouble monetising itself) Authonomy users came to the site because of an expectation they were sold by HarperCollins. Having built up a successful community, those users don’t now wish to be told by HarperCollins to do or be something else especially when it’s transparently about making money for HarperCollins. Or, as put by an Authonomy member:

‘Hidden agenda’? How about a rollout plan that hasn’t been shared – an intent to create a site in phases without sharing with, or consulting, the people that populate that site? How about misrepresenting the site to those people as you do your rollout? What does that make you? alexander

I wonder what HarperCollins’ answer will be?

{ 5 trackbacks }

JeremiahTolbert.com » Blog Archive » links for 2009-01-16
January 17, 2009 at 2:00 am
Authonomy Contracts Three Books From Members « Eoin Purcell’s Blog
January 22, 2009 at 4:18 am
Authonomy: Good Or Bad « Eoin Purcell’s Blog
February 21, 2009 at 5:05 am
Self-Promotion Websites – Still Iffy « The Book Wyrm
March 12, 2010 at 6:46 am
Rachel Udin Official Website
February 13, 2012 at 2:11 am

{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Paul Squires January 16, 2009 at 5:52 pm

Their answer will be interesting. My friend Narnie joined up very early on but got out very quickly too. I haven’t heard any good reports about it only disappointment. These kind of experiments by publishers will keep happening while they desperately try to figure out what to do about the internet.

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2 Richard Whittle June 1, 2010 at 3:29 am
3 Diane Oliver January 16, 2009 at 11:07 pm

Excellent post.

The community issue is at the heart of my disquiet about this issue.

~Diane.

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4 Diane Oliver January 16, 2009 at 11:08 pm

read: “whole thing” for second “issue.

Sigh.

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5 Lee January 17, 2009 at 3:29 am

I joined Authonomy for one purpose only: to have another publicity outlet for my online fiction. From the outset I had no interest in their so-called business model – and made it clear that I wasn’t after any sort of conventional publishing. With 50-100 downloads of my YA fantasy MORTAL GHOST per day, why should I be?

The idea of a writers’ community is anathema to me. I do my own writing, my own editing, and my own publishing. And reading is not a communal experience, but an intensely personal one!

I feel rather sorry for those writers who were hoping desperately to ‘make it’ in this way. Better they concentrate on what writing is all about, not publishing.

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6 pete January 17, 2009 at 6:07 am

I am an autho member, currently ranked #2 – and Alex is a mate (autho-related) whose opinion I respect, but I come down on the exact opposite side on this.

I find nothing in the way Authonomy has presented itself that is dishonest. If anyone read “Beat the Slush” and concluded that this was the quick way to get noticed, shame on them. If that’s false advertising, then so is “NEW! IMPROVED!!”

It is true that HC editors comb the site – one of my fellow authors was contacted directly and asked to submit a complete manuscript (her book was ranked in the high teens, I think). If she was the only one of the 3000 over the course of a few months, I’d guess (wildly at that) the site is running at approximately the same rate as the paper world.

Dianne’s post (linking Alex’s blog) is now running to 60 pages, with maybe 40 of Authonomy’s hundreds of regular members weighing in. There’s certainly no groundswell of outrage – although people with strong feelings are always heard, it’s probably running 50-50. Healthy democracy, it seems.

The rest of us, if we read it at all, shrug and go on doing what we’ve been doing – which in my case is just what I went there for: having fun, reading and critting, improving my book, and hanging out with some first-class people from all over the world.

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7 Olivia Hope April 19, 2013 at 8:28 am

I agree with you Pete. I never felt that authonomy had made any promises and I’m grateful for the chance to possibly be read by Harper and Collins editors (if I ever get to the top 5 -it’s hard!) Some of the books aren’t up to standard yet and the authors need honest, constructive criticism -they need a reality check -and yes that goes for me too so I’ll brace myself when my day comes. Authors on authonomy can’t honestly expect anyone to publish their work just because they get into the top 5 -if the book is full of holes then it needs mended. Also, many people get to the top 5 by spamming and by heaping false praise on other authors, asking to be backed in return. If they speed to the editor’s desk only to find their book is not that great or not ready -well, I’m sorry, but it’s tough luck…being a writer is hard. We need to have a thick skin but let’s be grateful for the site instead of whinging about it.
Olivia Hope, Led by the Holy Spirit (currently number 960 and stuck there!!)

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8 Diary of a Small Fish January 17, 2009 at 6:10 am

Shame on me for not self-promoting.

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9 Lee January 17, 2009 at 6:35 am

Pete, the only real satisfaction for me is in writing well, then writing better. Though I do check my blog stats, and obviously undertake a certain amount of self-promotion – though less and less – I spend most of my time writing and reading, reading and writing. Neither popularity nor ranking nor publishing contracts nor earnings have much to do with the way I measure success. I don’t disdain those who have other criteria; it’s just not my way.

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10 Narnie January 17, 2009 at 8:26 am

I was invited to the site when it was still in development and the expectation was high at that time. Unfortunately, once opened to all, it quickly became another experiment in social networking rather than the quality of the writing. I quite simply do not have the time for that kind of grasping at heartstrings. The one thing that irks – really irks – is that these websites seem geared for writers to judge writers. What writers need is readers. Isn’t it just that obvious? Not only that but the requirement to publish *at least* the first 10,000 words of your manuscript was completely undermining your ability to extract your work untainted by ‘previously published’ restraints for bigger and better opportunities. Luckily, the disappointment in the whole Authonomy fiasco was enough to send me rampantly hunting for more valid opportunities and my book was under contract for publishing within a month and was released a few weeks ago.
I would never discourage people joining such sites but I would certainly urge people to be wary of high expectations.

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11 Lee January 17, 2009 at 8:19 pm

Narnie, very sensible advice, even I myself have no intention of running about querying agents or publishers. Anyone who wants to make use of my work should be querying me!

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12 Diary of a Small Fish January 18, 2009 at 12:39 am

Lee, all fine points, and good on ya – but the question raised is whether Authonomy has misrepresented itself to aspiring writers.

Maybe it’s just the lawyer in me, but I simply do not feel that my expectations were manipulated in any fashion – and it seems to me that anyone who feels manipulated has only himself to look at.

We’ve discussed (argued, really) internally about how rankings are figured, how people vote for other people’s stuff, etc etc – all perfectly valid issues that could be addressed if the purpose of the experiment is really to identify top-quality work (e.g., BLIND, sliding scale voting like YWO). HC may or may not ever take the arguments into account, it’s their prerogative.

As for the idea that “it’s all about the writing,” that’s fantastic, if you’re engaged in a meaningful hobby. It’s not all about being “published.”

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13 Lee January 18, 2009 at 12:49 am

Sorry, Pete, but what I do is not a hobby. I’m dead serious about my work, which is writing. I work at it full-time, more than full-time in fact (which is one reason I don’t have time for its forums). And I am published – just not in the way you choose to define it.

I’ve never claimed HC is misleading people. Those who go to what amounts to a social networking site for advice about writing have only themselves to look to. My point is that they’d spend their time much more fruitfully in writing and reading.

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14 macdibble January 18, 2009 at 9:58 am

Yes, Paul, it really does feel like “experiments by publishers… while they desperately try to figure out what to do about the internet”.

It feels like HC thought a potential gravy boat was passing them by so they leapt hastily onto it without giving much thought to were they were going originally or even where they’re going now.

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15 Philippa Rees February 11, 2009 at 10:58 pm

I have been an Authonomy member for six months. Initially I did believe that genuine peer review would raise the profile of two books uploaded. Now it is clear that only non-writers, or writers on sabbatical have the time to do enough pushing, networking, book exchange reading to ascend to the editors desk.
Having accepted that I am not one of them I still maintain that selected and selective reading friends are worth finding, if only to maintain some self belief to keep on going. It is no way a means of finding a publisher or agent, but providing expectations are moderate, there are still good things to find, and some disappointing ones…like reading the work of others cover to cover only to find the recipient of comprehensive critiques don’t even dip into your work at all. But that’s life

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16 Richard Whittle June 1, 2010 at 3:29 am
17 J. T. Bleu August 6, 2009 at 12:45 pm

excerpt from the paris review, THE ART OF FICTION 64:

VONNEGUT
In a creative writing class of twenty people anywhere in this country, six students will be startlingly talented. Two of those might actually publish something by and by.

INTERVIEWER
What distinguishes those two from the rest?

VONNEGUT
They will have something other than literature itself on their minds. They will probably be hustlers, too. I mean that they won’t want to wait passively for somebody to discover them. They will insist on being read.

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18 Melanie August 13, 2009 at 3:31 am

I only recently joined authonomy, but I’ve been a member of other similar websites in the past. I’m not a writer and so only join these sites in order to read things and, possibly, give useful critique.

I find websites like this a joy to go to…

However, I’m sure that if I were a writer I would have a very different opinion of Authonomy, simply looking at the terms and conditions and some of the discussions on the forum made me very sceptical. I’ll do what I normally do, scour the uploads for things I might like to read and ignore the rest of the site. I don’t have time to become active on a social networking site.

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19 Oscar Harte October 3, 2009 at 1:06 am

My first impression upon stepping over the virtual threshold of Authonomy was of a halfway house for writers. Cheerful and hygienic it might appear but there’s also a furtive sense of dispossession, even seediness; a feeling one has now slipped down a social pecking order. One’s most treasured possession – one’s ambition – is already looking a bit more ragged here, a bit more moth-eaten. One looks around a little warily at one’s fellow inmates. One is immediately suspicious of so much overt friendliness, daunted by the ubiquitous flourishes of self-belief. These clearly are people who have tasted the acrimony of rejection on a regular basis. What the hell have they all got to be so cheerful about? Slowly though one settles in. One lowers one’s expectations. One begins to enjoy and look forward to the meals on offer. One finds a chair to one’s liking and is content to ignore the world outside for longer and longer periods. One realises one might never get out but there’s always that one chance in a million that someone will recognise one’s truly unique talent….

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20 Luke Mitchell December 18, 2009 at 7:58 am

Oscar, I enjoyed your comment about Authonomy.

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21 Jixatron November 5, 2009 at 10:51 pm

Yes, I entered authonomy but with the mess I saw, quickly exited. Like a hell of a lot of web stuff, it ends up shallow, poor but seemingly ‘something good’, stuff disappears into the mist of electronic decay never to be seen again…
We now live in a shallow age but with exploitative capitalist companies still grasping for power and money. Poor writers are more and more marginalised as ‘promises of gold’ falsely appear…
I have found the local writer’s groups where face to face (NOT facebook…) stimulates just as it always did – real people. Support them, not rotten big businesses.
Regards to all … Keep writing!

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22 JasonMatthews November 7, 2009 at 10:31 am

As a newbie, I’m both excited and wary for what it presents. Chance of building readers/connects verses the need put in some hours being pro-active and social. When I self published 4 years ago, I’d do anything, try anything, spend everything on marketing. I discovered how quickly money depletes while reader numbers increased at a snail’s pace. Now, with the sequel, I’m doing and trying everything for FREE that can increase readership, reviews, crits, etc before publishing. I’m giving authonomy 2 months, and we’ll see if any bennies like contacts that lead to more contacts show up. Life is partly about networking, not just crafting your art. Do I plan on a big deal with HC? Maybe maybe not, but the prospects of that or making other contacts are worth 2 months of effort to me. Of course, I’m a glass half full person. Maybe that will help. But who can complain about a free service or being mislead here? That’s silly. It’s just another free avenue to increase your web presence, and so I’ll gladly go for it. It’s free and it gets people reading my work and going to my site. Nuf said.
By the way, Jim’s Life by Jason Matthews is a great read! Come give it a whirl and get a crit in return.

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23 JasonMatthews November 7, 2009 at 10:34 am

Heck, can I paste my website here? How did I miss that?

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24 Luke Mitchell December 18, 2009 at 7:55 am

I played the Authonomy game for a while, but soon tired of it. In most cases, getting into the hallowed top five, the ed’s desk, has little to do with the quality of your writing skills, but rather your ability to manipulate.
On the positive side…I came in touch with a few really great authors who pointed out to me where I was going wrong with my writing. I swallowed my pride and followed what turned out to be excellent advice on a number of occassions. I am grateful for that.
On the negetive….there are a lot of twats on the site who form cliques and pat each other on the back. I’ve always been a rebel…all hail the individualist….and some of the smarmy crap being traded as sincerity on authonomy really is a massive turn off. The players are easily identifyable. Lashings of XXXs and the ubiquitous muuuuagh! Dahling, your new chapter is right up there with Danielle Steele..
All the lonely people where do they all belong? Beats me.
As far as getting picked up by Harper Collins….I doubt it. It is not only in the music world that it is a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll, being a published author is like that too.
Me? I still write to the occasional agent and am beginning to believe that the film script from my first book might well be the foundation for a fantastic movie playing in a cinema near you. ‘Mind Bomb’, don’t miss it.
I enjoyed my time on Authonomy. Might sign up again one day, if I am desperately bored. Thing is, I rarely ever feel bored.

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25 pk Hrezo February 2, 2010 at 9:29 am

I really learned a lot from Authonomy. It’s first writing community I’ve been a part of and I’ve made some decent friends, as well as received helpful critiques. I Learned very early on the site, not everyone there is interested in my actual writing. It’s a quid pro quo scenario. However, if you need readers for your work, you will find some good people and some excellent writing. There’s a lot of talent to learn from. Just go in with no expectations except for gaining a little insight…. and yes, to build your platform and polish your ms!

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26 Nikki Ty February 4, 2010 at 9:56 am

I would like to think that a ‘jury of one’s peers” might be the best possible way to flush out talent. However a quick glance at many of the top favorites on Authonomy have been startlingly disapppointing. The idea of “you critique me and I’ll critique you” is an exercise in futility. I’ve been an art critic for twenty years, taking up this job only after I put down my brush. As a working artist, I felt I could not honestly comment on my peers from a public platform. I still believe this is true.

Just meander through a few lists of critiques and gag at the mutual stroking going on. “Brilliant” gushed someone regarding a book high on today’s list. I got through the first stilted, affected page …. laced with poorly contructed sentences and a liberal use of profanity, before I gave up.

If you’re going to spend time on Authonomy, jettison all hopes of attracted the eye of HC. Buried in the slush there are some good authors and some honest and valuable critics. Look for these gems and forget about the possibilities of HC picking up your book. It isn’t going to happen

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27 George February 15, 2010 at 11:33 pm

I spent one entire week on Authonomy and realized it wasn’t for me because it distracted me from writing. All of the glowing praises were hollow, so while it was a nice ego boost, I would much rather focus on writing. Don’t believe your own PR.

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28 Joe February 17, 2010 at 12:01 pm

I just removed my book from Authonomy after a a couple of weeks. I work too hard on my writing, which inlcludes reading and pushing my stuff in a traditional manner, to have time for endless critiquing in order to get backing from people who for all intense and purposes, and bless their souls, don’t give a rat’s tail about my work. It’s not their fault, and it’s not mine. Hell, it’s not even Harper’s fault. It’s just too damn time consuming to get involved with the needs of other writers. I need to write!

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29 Richard Whittle June 1, 2010 at 3:28 am
30 Frank Kusy March 30, 2010 at 3:44 am

I am a published travel writer, moving into fiction. Two books (one complete, one in progress) to show. Am interested in your new web-site. Pls send details when available.

Thanx, and good luck with your new enterprise.

Frank

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31 Jack Stirling April 9, 2010 at 12:15 am

I downloaded my book BLINDFOLD at the end of DEC – it entered at 5177 – I took it off at 170!!! Even thought it had climbed 4000 places. It only climbs by VERY PERSISTENT and time consuming “you back me – i’ll back you”. For 6 days it was at 201. During the last 2 days I received 6 backings and moved to 203!!!!!! One member works for a large organisation – she e mailed every department and got almost 70 backings from people who had not read her book!!! Nuff said about Authonomy!!!!!!!! The concept is good but the ranking system – abyssmal.

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32 Richard Whittle June 1, 2010 at 3:31 am

Hey, Jack!
We backed each other…
Read this:
http://playpitspark.wordpress.com/2010/05/27/stephen-king-is-right/

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33 sueg April 10, 2010 at 11:09 pm

I think the fault, if there is one, lies with the expectations of some of the authors on the site, rather than with Authonomy/Harper Collins. If a writer reaches the Editor’s Desk, and then isn’t asked for the whole MS by HarperCollins, then it’s almost certainly because their book isn’t ready to be published and needs further work.

I have blogged on this issue here:http://groansfrommygarret.blogspot.com/

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34 M.G. April 12, 2010 at 3:15 pm

I’ve only been on Authonomy for about a week. While I have enjoyed my book spiking in popularity and found a couple of real gems in the historical fiction section, it still strikes me as a sort of fanfiction.net with better grammar and less slash. The constant e-mails and hounding to back other’s books is rather overwhelming, as well as the indignant messages if you comment on a book but don’t like it enough to back it. Any sincerity in the rating system seems foreign to most of the authors on the site. That being said, it was a great experience for me, working on my very first and still unfinished novel, to be given some encouragement in a safe outlet under fairly anonymous conditions with a few chapters of my book. I’m saving the full thing for letters to agents, though. :)

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35 sueg April 12, 2010 at 5:59 pm

I agree, M.G. And maybe HarperCollins should put something in place to prevent authors from posting such comments as ‘If you back my book, I’ll back yours’. It’s an ‘X-Factor’ attitude and doesn’t help anyone to think seriously about their work and how to improve it.

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36 sage waterson April 14, 2010 at 7:28 am

I am a member of the site. And maybe it is true that no one who has made it to the editor’s desk has been asked to provide a full manuscript for a thorough read. It is is true, it is more than likely because the distribution of quality writing is not different on this site than it is in the real world. Most manuscripts are rejected by agents and publishers for a reason. Most people lack the intuition and skill to write a good book. Most of the authors I have read on or near the editor’s desk are very poor writers or down right delutional. It is unfortunate that a culture of “swapping backing” in order to move up in ranking has developed on the site. Authors who support any manuscript, regarless of the quality, turn the site into a joke. This pratice is rampant. The reality is that the system in place works against good and honorable writers who make an earnest attemp to support well constructed narratives. This is because there are so few of them to support. Conseqeuntly the honest writers who judge based on sound criterai i.e..voice, flow, narative strucucture), and can tell good writing form bad (and who by the way are likely to be the better writers), have few manuscript they can, in good faith support. And since the vast majority or poor writers, the ones that resort to back scratching, only vote for people who support them–this cuases the manuscripts of the better writers to flounder and go down in the ranking if they stick to their principles. The result is that a lot of pressure on the honst writer to lower their standards and support those who are delusional about thier skills in order to keep moving up in the ranks. What a literary writer to do?

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37 rick May 26, 2010 at 1:10 pm

That last comment is the most insightful.

The most talented writers are the most critical. It’s difficult to even separate the critical faculty from the “talent” of writing, which is editing before or after setting words to paper.

Any talented writer looks at drivel with horror beyond even a HC editor. The backed books are mainly awful, although I don’t doubt that users can use the site for good. But the overlap between “honesty/criticality” (i.e., writing talent) and not networking successfully are too 1:1 for the site to be anything but a failure. And the site is a failure, since popular books haven’t been published (much less fully reviewed.)

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38 Richard Whittle June 1, 2010 at 3:26 am

Authonomy…!
See my blog post about it, here:
http://playpitspark.wordpress.com/2010/05/27/stephen-king-is-right/

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39 Richard Whittle June 1, 2010 at 3:45 am

The cynic in me insists that Authonomy is a device publishers will use to kill off all the literary agents. No, that’s stupid, that can’t be right… So what is it, is it like a dam, holding back a massive flood of would-be writers, a great barrier to let through a mere trickle? What a wonderful and innovative way to reduce a publisher’s slush pile! No, that must be wrong, that’s conspiracy theory… So what is Authonomy? Methinks it is an experiment that has gone horribly wrong, something that has grown to a monster that HarperCollins can’t really handle but at the same time daren’t kill off. It must occupy far more staff time and effort than they ever dreamed of – and probably for very little return in terms of good books and good authors. I would love to see honest statistics, how many published, how many best-sellers, etc have resulted from this experiment.

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40 Chris August 8, 2010 at 5:15 pm

I have just read all the posts above about Authonomy with interest. It never ceases to amaze how very many differing approaches and viewpoints the human mind is capable of. The one comment that I found most telling was “what writers need are readers” i.e. not other writers reviewing their work. As an avid reader myself (as is my author wife), I believe that these “writers” probably buy and read more books than anyone. Indeed, I hope they do, in order to broaden their own range of writing. You really cannot categorise people in this way.

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41 michelle April 24, 2012 at 11:55 am

Well said.

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42 richard croome August 15, 2010 at 5:00 am

I have been there for 5 months drifting around in the 200 hundreds. I think somehow the site does give would be writers a platform and that is the rub. It is not necessarily a platform for being published or becoming a commercial product. It is basically somewhere where as an author you can communicate with fellow writers and relate to them in whatever way you see fit. When you look at the publishing industry it seems to be chock a block with people feeding off a somewhat outdated business model.With e books on the horizon it could be just like 1977 when dinosaur rock bands were usurped by canny punks with attitude. Someone needs a kick up the arse. There are too many uncreative literary types holding the reigns. Whether like me you are a first time author or a seasoned campaigner Authonomy does have a value in framing the game.

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43 Richard Whittle August 17, 2010 at 8:13 am

I’ve only just realised how many times my blog link appears on this page and I apologise. Once or twice would have been enough – I must have been over-tired!

Authonomy helped me in that I got a lot of interesting feedback from other writers, and more than anything it showed that what I am doing isn’t at all bad, and we all need that kind of encouragement.

I understand that HarperCollins are aware of the ‘spamming’ problems and have said they will change things. It will be interesting to see how they do it.

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44 BA Shields September 11, 2010 at 8:15 pm

I enjoyed the article, and agree that Authonomy may not be the ideal place for those who seek publishing. I have been a member there for nearly a year (I think…) and the feedback that I have received on the first novel in my latest series ‘Pandemic Dawn’ has been wonderful! I took each comment that was left, and seriously examined my writing to improve the story and make it a better read.

No, I may never be “discovered” on there, but looking at the site from a community aspect, I feel that the feedback was valuable to me, especially coming from those who are also writing.

My novel Pandemic Dawn is now available in Amazon.com, and at some bookstores, such as Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, etc. This isn’t because of Authonomy directly, but through Authonomy’s community, I honed my book and made it better than it was before publishing.

I plan on using Authonomy for my second novel in the series as well, and hope to get the same type of feedback as before.

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45 Yaicha Maus September 16, 2010 at 3:41 am

If you write something good you write something good, if you don’t you don’t. I’d want to publish what I knew was a good book. It’s really (seems) simple.

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46 R October 27, 2010 at 9:09 am

I am on the site – never mind Harper Collins picking up your work or raising expectations (really – they make no promises), it’s a great place to have people see your work and make comment, good bad or ugly:) There is also some excellent writing there and it is a great place to see interesting ideas flourishing. It certainly is no more frustrating than the whole agented process.

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47 Peter Turner October 29, 2010 at 8:34 am

Excellent article.

I think on the whole authonomy has many more plusses than drawbacks. Firstly, as anyone who’s made an effort to be published knows, getting any kind of feedback or praise from a publisher or agent that’s rejected you is hard to come by. I have sent and received generous praise with other authors on the site, and it’s a huge boost to any writer’s self esteem to be genuinely praised (as opposed to the obvious cases of people just wanting a return ‘backing’ for a few complimentary but nondescript words.

In my experience, about 80% of the books I’ve come across are from JK Rowling and Dan Brown wannabes, 10% who are plain crap, and the rest from writers who are very serious about the quality of their writing.

No one should expect to be published just because their book has made the editor’s desk. HC clearly say that the only firm offer they make is that it’ll be critiqued by an editorial team.

What really worries me is the talk about POD being made available on our books. It would be utter treachery if that happened, but if there’s such a high proportion of wannabees on the site, it’ll be hard for the serious writers to put up much of a fight.

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48 Henry Nixon January 13, 2011 at 9:41 pm

I have a book. The Jew From Lodz I would like to upload part of this story to your website. Advice please.

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49 Fragile June 13, 2011 at 6:50 am

I joined, and looked, and took note of how authonomy was working. I agree that the premise of the site is higher expectation. It appears that grafting your way to the desk is the key to being published, maybe. Thats how the platform, when introduced to it, appears to work. It appears now that being supported by fellow authors, critiqued and having your writing skills, or lack of them, massaged via your ego is also part of the authonomy attraction, but this is not authonomies remit. Take it on the chin. Keep asking to be read and let authonomy work out what they are supposed to be doing with all our skills. So far, I havn’t uploaded any work. I am not sure I will.

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50 Sharon Johnston August 6, 2011 at 4:36 am

I understand people’s frustration with the site. I’ve been on it. I’d like to point out HC are doing much better with their YA version Inkpop, which is linked to HC US. I “top-fived” and the editor read my WHOLE MS and then gave me really great feedback that helped with revisions. Two of my friends on the site got publishing deals as a result. CARRIER OF THE MARK by Leigh Fallon is about to come out and they recently announced SWEET EVIL by Wendy Higgins.

Book Country, which is the Penguin take on writer’s community’s, is a great place to go and get feedback. With no “top five” involved it’s a different feel.

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51 Michael Oliver February 25, 2014 at 1:22 am

I was on the verge of submitting my novel “Through the Headlights” and after reading these insightful comments I’m pulling back. I’m not seeking feedback on my book because it’s already self published. I’m looking for the next step to boost sales beyond my website and Amazon, and it appears Authonomy isn’t the best choice for that. And I have neither the time nor the interest to play the phony review game. If anybody has a recommendation on a resource that might result in increased distribution I’d love to hear about it.

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56 Concerned April 10, 2014 at 7:27 am

A small group of like-minded individuals use their writing skills to pursue, harrass, slander, malign, and bully countless individuals on Authonomy. They dominate the forums with hate-threads, slander, defamation of character and reconstructions of past history to justify themselves.

You, (readers) will have to make up your own minds. This is a warning and a suggestion. If you are serious about writing, I suggest you take your manuscripts to a professional writers site and not Authonomy – for your own future. If you are fortunate enough to be published, they will threaten attacks against your book as well as you.

If you enjoy participating in abusive chat groups of the type this site has become, then this is the place for you.

Know that the individuals who perpetuate the abuse will circuitously retreat to a much more positive, benevolent – and even helpful- stance until the site calms down and you will be given some excellent reviews, but this won’t endure and, if you do not demonstrate to the abusers what they consider to be proper admiration, you may be their next target. If you remain, be aware of this, of the potential threats to your book, and the emotional damage that can be done.

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