Authonomy, How to Get Published or Not?

Authonomy from HarperCollinsCan Authonomy help with your writing goals? Yes and no, of course it depends what those writing goals are. If you’re wondering how to get published, then probably not, but it’s still a great place for that. Confused? Perfect, because it does have that effect on people.

Authonomy is many things to different people. It’s primarily an online writing community sponsored by British publisher, HarperCollins, a major player in the publishing world. It’s also a place to network with other authors and spend time in the writing forums. It can even become a means for pulling out hair and running away kicking and screaming that you’ll never return.

That interest you? Then you might be wondering, how does it work? Most authors begin by creating a profile, uploading an avatar photo and then uploading some chapters or all of their book. Books do not have to be complete to participate. When others read from your book and “back” it (like giving it a positive vote) by placing it on their “bookshelf” or “watchlist,” your book gets points in the form of a better ranking and green arrow. As your book climbs higher in ranking (from #10,000 toward #1), you watch a little green arrow and the corresponding number change daily. On the other hand, if your book slips in popularity and goes backwards, a red arrow will appear next to it. Green-good, red-bad. Your “talent spotter” status has a similar feature of green and red arrows depending on how well you “back” books that are on the rise.

At the conclusion of each month, the 5 titles with the highest rankings (#1 through #5) are chosen by HarperCollins (HC) to get reviewed by their professional editors and, if they are deemed publishable, offered a publishing contract by HC. This monthly effort of making it to the editor’s desk (or ED) can be enormously time-consuming with no guarantees.

Authonomy bills itself as being “much more than a community of book lovers. An online community of discovery where writers become authors. Help great books get published.” This slogan seems more accurate than the previous one that simply read, “beat the slush pile.” Authonomy actually is a gigantic slush pile all its own, although there are some great benefits to the site that you can’t get during a prolonged stay in a conventional slush pile at an agency or publishing house.

What can Authonomy do for you? In a nutshell, it can be a fine place to network with other writers; some are just starting out and learning the craft, some are gifted writers who need their first big break, and others are self-published Indies making a name for themselves.

What can you expect from joining?

  • Expect to meet lots of people interested in writing and being published. Most want traditional publishing from HC or some other big house, and a few (like me) are content with self-publishing and networking.
  • Expect to do read swaps where authors each agree to read a chapter or two of each other’s book and make comments. This can be a great way to get in-depth critiques for the first few chapters. It’s less likely that people will read your entire manuscript, though arrangements can be made.
  • Expect to become a bit addicted to the place and the writing forums. It can turn into a time-consuming habit to say the least, and a full-on addiction in worst cases.
  • Expect to be spammed by desperate writers wanting to rise in the rankings to make the editor’s desk.
  • Expect to meet people from all over the world.

What should not be expected after joining Authonomy?

  • Do not expect to make it to the editor’s desk without spending many months there in a full-time effort of reading, critiquing, spamming and begging others to “back” your book.
  • Do not expect HarperCollins (or anyone else) to publish you even if your book does make the coveted editor’s desk. They hardly ever publish these books. Do not expect to meet agents or publishers, and if you do, make sure they are legitimate.
  • Do not expect people to always be honest or do a good job during swaps for critiques. Usually they are working with integrity and have insightful critiques, but not always.

My advice on how to use Authonomy is this:

  • Swap reads with a dozen or more writers to make sure your first few chapters are at their best. Try to make these swaps with skilled writers, as they will provide the most valuable feedback. Use the editing advice you get during those critiques to carry throughout the rest of your manuscript. If you find good readers who want to swap reads for entire books, do it.
  • Network with other authors, especially those self-publishing. Learn what they know about Facebook/Google Plus/Twitter, blogging, Amazon/Barnes & Noble/Smashwords, anything related to the e-publishing business. Even if your dream is to be published traditionally, whatever you learn about marketing will be of great value.
  • Don’t get caught up in the daily games or spamming efforts to back books.
  • Don’t get caught up in the green and red arrows. In fact, you’ll probably be happier if you never look at them (like me).
  • Have fun with it. There are some genuinely wonderful people to be found (the diamonds in the rough).

HarperCollins has a young adult version of Authonomy called Inkpop for authors with books aimed at this audience.

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6 Responses to “Authonomy, How to Get Published or Not?”

  1. Paul D. Dail Says:

    Jason, fascinating. I’ve never heard of Autonomy but will check it out. Question: What has been your experience of how quickly people expect you to read their chapters and comment? I’ve been navigating through Book Blogs, and it seems that many of the blogging reviewers there are burning through entire books in days. With my teaching job and a toddler, I don’t have that kind of free time (nor do I generally read that quickly… at least not very attentively… even if I did have all day, every day). Has it been your experience that the authors at Autonomy are expecting that kind of quick response?

    thanks in advance,
    Paul D. Dail

    • Jason Matthews Says:

      Paul, great question. I’m not familiar with Book Blogs, but if the reviewers are really burning through books that quickly I would be amazed. At Authonomy you can expect dozens of reads/critiques for your first chapters, but that’s about it. In order to get more you need to make arrangements to read and critique another author to expect the same.
      Thanks for the visit, Paul.

  2. Paul D. Dail Says:

    You should check it out, at least for research purposes. There are pros and cons. The biggest con I see is that many people there are just looking for followers to their own blog, offering up to follow yours if you follow theirs but not necessarily being a PRODUCTIVE follower. Not really the type of subscriber I’m looking for. However, there are multitudes of book reviewers (some good, some bad, but still… multitudes) and tons of other writers. And in response to your comment, I think some of the reviewers go through them so fast because many of them don’t have other jobs (and several of the books being reviewed are YA). And that would probably be another con for me personally, seeing as I don’t write YA books. There are fewer readers/reviewers/bloggers that are interested in adult genre stories.

    Paul D. Dail A horror writer’s not necessarily horrific blog

    (okay, so I’ve been taking your advice and putting my website in with each comment I leave on other blogs, but not with the description I put here on yours. Do you think that’s too much? I’m diligent about making sure I leave good comments… in fact, mine are usually the longest. Brevity isn’t my strong suit. Or had you figured that out?)

  3. Paul D. Dail Says:

    Jason, off topic here, but how do you add the “Subscribe to this blog” at the end of your posts? I’m also on WordPress. I have the “Email Subscription” widget in my sidebar, but it seems like this is something different than what you are doing. And while I’m getting numerous views and great comments on my post, I have very few subscribers.

    • Jason Matthews Says:

      It’s a simple widget from Just visit the site and follow their prompts for WordPress blogs with your specs. Then when adding the html code at the bottom of your wordpress blog posts, just make sure to change the view from Visual to HTML.

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