In my last stumbling session I came across a site from HarperCollins that knocked my socks off. It wasn’t impressive because of flash or brilliant CSS, in fact the layout is rather simple and ordinary. It wasn’t the content either. No, what hooked me was the concept.
Authonomy is a new concept site that allows authors to post their work. Readers have the opportunity to review and rate the same. So maybe that particular concept is not so unique, but what is astounding is that the developers of this site are very clear that the intent is to discover new writing talent for HarperCollins.
Here’s a quote directly from the faq page: “We hope the authonomy community will guide publishers straight to the freshest writing talent – and will give passionate and thoughtful readers a real chance to influence what’s on our shelves.”
Amazing. Think about it, really. A true opportunity to bypass the slush pile and heave one over the transom. This kind of access is truly unprecedented.
How it works
After signing up, an author can build a personal page to promote their project. The author must make at least 10,000 words available for viewing and the author has the choice of posting the minimum or the entire manuscript. How much are you going to pay for this privilege? Nada. Zip. Zeeee-ro.
Visitors to the site then have the opportunity to read the book and post a review to the community. The Book Chart tracks what has been the most popular over the last month. Readers also have an can also place up to five selections on their Bookshelf to showcase the works that they have rated positively.
The best part
Every month, the top five books from the Book Chart are delivered to an editorial board comprised of HarperCollins commissioning editors who will read and comment on the selected books.
One more quote pulled from the faq page that should pique the interest of any aspiring author:
“We’ve set up authonomy in the hope of finding new authors for our various publishing lists, so we’ll certainly be looking for promising books – as will other publishing houses and agents. We only buy books we really believe in – as such, we’re not guaranteeing to publish anything submitted to us. In this way, you can be sure that any books picked off authonomy will have been chosen because we really love them.”
Oh, yes – there will be work
All writers know that nothing is ever easy. Authonomy is no different. Don’t think that you can just upload your rag-tag manuscript and wait for the publishing contract to arrive. It is a community and active involvement will be a prerequisite to success. You will have to spend time reading the other authors works. You will spend time reviewing and rating.
If you’re banging your head against the wall with your manusrcipt in multiple places and trying all kinds of gee-whiz methods and sites, then stop. Slow down. Think about this. If you put most of your efforts into this community, the potential for payback is huge!
What about my rights?
You give up absolutely none of your authorship rights by posting your book at Authonomy. HarperCollins will ask for a very specific license to put your manuscript on the site but all of your rights of ownership remain in tact. You may continue to submit to agents and publishers through traditional means.
If you have a self published book, you can create a page for it on Authonomy and even set up links in the profile page directing readers to the purchase site.
This idea is cutting edge. It should inspire those who have not completed their book to get on with it. The publishing industry has undergone many changes over the past few years. Let’s hope this one is here to stay and that other publishers follow suit.