Can 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.