Authonomy: the slush pile goes online

Filed under: News — marcia at 5:58 pm on Monday, October 20, 2008

authonomy.gif HarperCollins has tossed another vegetable into the social networking salad with Authonomy. Here’s how it works: Take your unpublished or self-published book (or part thereof) and upload it to the site. Then other members read, rate and comment upon your work. HarperCollins says once the site is running full speed, it will read the most highly rated manuscripts in search of “talented writers we can sign up for our traditional book publishing programmes.”

My immediate reaction was cynicism and an audible “ick” noise. I don’t know. I just don’t buy that HarperCollins takes these submissions seriously or that anyone of merit is on there. Also, it seems like it is a way to publicize ideas that may be safer left private or shared with trusted professionals rather than shared with the possibly desperate competition. Also also, I sometimes get all anti-Kumbaya at the prospect of social networking, reality-TV-style competitions and online “communities.” But I am kind of a grump.

Pretending I’m not a grump, I came up with this list of reasons why other people might like it:

~ If you’re going to be in the slush pile, it’s probably a lot better to be there while getting feedback on your work.

~ This could be a time-saving strategy for those at HarperCollins who do read unsolicited manuscripts, since they’d know that at least a small group of the public at large is interested in a particular work and invested in its success if it’s highly rated by the group.

~ It is possible that some agents would scour Authonomy’s popular manuscripts to see if there’s any fresh talent. Word Pirates received a letter from an agent after she saw our event listing at an online literary calendar, so they are indeed looking to the web for prospects.

~ Writing can be lonely. While it’s true that many terrible writers will flock to this service, they can’t all be bad. Writing isn’t much on togetherness, and if the site is successful it could give many people encouragement and support.

~ This might be the place for that novel you write next month for NaNoNaNoBooBo, more commonly known as National Novel Writing Month.

Link to Authonomy

-marcia

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