Authonomy: The Future of publishing?

News, trends, and the future of publishing
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BransfordGroupie
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Authonomy: The Future of publishing?

Post by BransfordGroupie » December 6th, 2009, 10:53 pm

Hi Nathan,

Just wondering if this http://www.authonomy.com/about.aspx is the future of publishing. It looks like a great way to "beat the slush" but at the same time I wounder if it is a very elaborate scam?

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Re: Future of publishing?

Post by Nathan Bransford » December 6th, 2009, 10:56 pm

I don't know about scam, but I also don't know if it's necessarily the future either. My impression of Authonomy is that it's cool if you want feedback and/or if you don't take it too seriously, but it also strikes me as thoroughly Machiavellian, and whatever rises to the top in Authonomy through relationships, reputation, etc. might not necessarily be the book that would catch on with the masses or what an editor would necessarily choose on their own.

Fun experiment and perhaps a nascent glimpse at a world where everyone is jockeying for attention and trying to get their work to stand out. But not sure if it's the future.

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Re: Future of publishing?

Post by russetpomme » December 6th, 2009, 11:54 pm

If I can slide a similar question in, as an agent, how do you feel about WeBook.com? I noticed Colleen Lindsay is trying them out this month and I'm curious about your take on it. Is there any transparency for you as to who is "filtering" queries before you receive them?

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Re: Future of publishing?

Post by Nathan Bransford » December 7th, 2009, 1:27 am

russetpomme wrote:If I can slide a similar question in, as an agent, how do you feel about WeBook.com? I noticed Colleen Lindsay is trying them out this month and I'm curious about your take on it. Is there any transparency for you as to who is "filtering" queries before you receive them?
I can't imagine having my queries filtered, I'm pretty particular about my own systems. I'll be curious to hear what others have to say about it though.

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Re: Future of publishing?

Post by rose » December 7th, 2009, 11:53 am

Now that I have the eSlick, I have been noticing the many ways people package and deliver their self-published work. I don't mean only the file formats they choose, but the websites they use as a distribution channel. Some use the wovel method of publishing a chapter at a time. Some put the entire book up for free download, others sell it through Lulu or some such channel. Occasionally a formerly free ebook link will lead to an announcement that says, in effect "Too bad. You missed out on the freebie. My manuscript just got picked up by a publisher,(neener neener)." I always give a little inward cheer for the author when I see this.

I love it that we are now able to be so proactive with our own work. And, realistically, why shouldn't we? There are not enough resources in the traditional agent/publisher, bricks & mortar channels to move all of the worthwhile works into hardcover or paperback. Based on what I'm seeing, I'm starting to think that a strong digital literati will be able to make or break a writer's reputation before the first page of the first book rolls off the presses.
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Re: Future of publishing?

Post by casnow » December 7th, 2009, 2:18 pm

BransfordGroupie wrote:Hi Nathan,

Just wondering if this http://www.authonomy.com/about.aspx is the future of publishing. It looks like a great way to "beat the slush" but at the same time I wounder if it is a very elaborate scam?
Is this actually by HarperCollins? I think it looks promising, but I've not taken a detailed look.

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Re: Future of publishing?

Post by Nathan Bransford » December 7th, 2009, 2:25 pm

casnow wrote:
BransfordGroupie wrote:Hi Nathan,

Just wondering if this http://www.authonomy.com/about.aspx is the future of publishing. It looks like a great way to "beat the slush" but at the same time I wounder if it is a very elaborate scam?
Is this actually by HarperCollins? I think it looks promising, but I've not taken a detailed look.
I believe it's sponsored by HarperUK

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Re: Future of publishing?

Post by jeffadair » December 7th, 2009, 7:58 pm

Hi Nathan...
What are your thoughts about a website/company called: FastPencil ?
It appears that they are encouraging people to write their novels with their "free" software and then having it "easily" converted into a PDF for your personal use or having it published through them? They were an unofficial sponsor of NaNoWriMo and I'm sure a few people used their software to write their novels. Is this just an elaborate POD company masquerading as a writing site or a good idea in these turbulent publishing times?

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Re: Future of publishing?

Post by Nathan Bransford » December 7th, 2009, 8:18 pm

jeffadair wrote:Hi Nathan...
What are your thoughts about a website/company called: FastPencil ?
It appears that they are encouraging people to write their novels with their "free" software and then having it "easily" converted into a PDF for your personal use or having it published through them? They were an unofficial sponsor of NaNoWriMo and I'm sure a few people used their software to write their novels. Is this just an elaborate POD company masquerading as a writing site or a good idea in these turbulent publishing times?

-- Jeff Adair
I haven't heard of them. I wonder if others have?

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Re: Future of publishing?

Post by casnow » December 8th, 2009, 7:42 am

BransfordGroupie wrote:Hi Nathan,

Just wondering if this http://www.authonomy.com/about.aspx is the future of publishing. It looks like a great way to "beat the slush" but at the same time I wounder if it is a very elaborate scam?
Okay, so I just went through the trouble of registering with authonomy, checking out the FAQs, and even uploading a bit of text. The process for uploading is a little painful if you like short chapters (i.e., I have 50 chapters, and you seem to load 1 at a time...). However, the real prize for uploading your work is two fold:

1) you basically get a bunch of beta readers, some of which give thorough feedback (you can read the feedback people leave for other authors)
2) if you rise to the top by getting people to put your book on their "shelf", then the HarperCollins guys will give you feedback - what they have been posting is fairly robust and honest (i.e., parts they like, parts they hate, examples of what could be fixed, and an analysis of why they would or would not buy it).

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Re: Future of publishing?

Post by JFBookman » December 9th, 2009, 1:23 pm

jeffadair wrote:Hi Nathan...
What are your thoughts about a website/company called: FastPencil ?
... Is this just an elaborate POD company masquerading as a writing site or a good idea in these turbulent publishing times?
Jeff, FastPencil is simply a new POD company which is trying to have a "warmer, friendlier" face to their interactions with writers. Other than that, no difference I can see. They were exhibiting at the recent NCIBA show and introducing themselves there. Although they seemed like decent people who were anxious to connect, they didn't seem to have much expertise in the nitty gritty of book distribution.
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Re: Future of publishing?

Post by a_r_williams » December 10th, 2009, 1:52 am

rose wrote:I love it that we are now able to be so proactive with our own work. And, realistically, why shouldn't we? There are not enough resources in the traditional agent/publisher, bricks & mortar channels to move all of the worthwhile works into hardcover or paperback. Based on what I'm seeing, I'm starting to think that a strong digital literati will be able to make or break a writer's reputation before the first page of the first book rolls off the presses.
I don't know about this. It leaves me with a sense of dread. How many people who write, think that their first draft is magical, and that it's the greatest thing ever written?
There are far too many people who get upset when the gatekeepers ( publishers & agents ) tell them their work isn't good enough. Writing is work. Making it easier for anyone with a computer too publish does not decrease the level of work involved and may even flood the market with inferior quality writing and thus make the good stuff even harder to find.

I do agree that a strong internet presence and marketing will become even more vital for writers as publishers try to cut cost. I can see a time when a literary equivalent of SEO ( search engine optimization ) leads readers to the writers they like.

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Re: Future of publishing?

Post by jnduncan » December 20th, 2009, 11:22 am

From what I've gathered, Authonomy requires you to be pretty actively involved in the system in order to garner the support you need to get noticed. If you have the time to invest in such a thing, it might prove useful. I checked it out several months back and realized that I wouldn't want to commit the time for such a remote shot. I'd rather use the time to write. I also believe writers would be better served with a good crit group.

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Re: Future of publishing?

Post by MickRooney » January 4th, 2010, 7:05 pm

I've been on Authonomy a good while now. About 9 months. I have to say I'm not as enthusiastic as I first was. As has been said above. It's a good way to get some beta readers and feedback for a work you want to put out there. But it has several critical failings. Much was made of it on its inception last year about the top five rated books getting to the HarperCollins editor's desk, but, in reality, I know of no author who has received a contract in the time it has been going. Yes, there was much talk last year of the 'golden three' authors who got picked up by HC, but it turned out afterwards, these authors had already submitted ms' to the publisher and were very much in the pipeline to success before Authonomy.

I think the system employed sets author against author and I'm not entirely convinced the reader reviews and resulting points scoring for books comes from careful reading and review of a fellow author's book, but rather a cursory glance at a book, and an immediate request to reciprocate the read to gain ratings for your own book. If you look carefully, you will find the top 20 or so authors whose books are in that months review running to get the HC editors desk space tend to 'somehow' have read an extraordinary amount of books reads for other authors. For one author, I counted 80 something book reads in one week by him! It really is more like the US primaries before an election year!

One noticeable thing as well, there seems to be a direct partnership/affiliation with self-publishing service CreateSpace which is being pushed on the site. By the way, these are not the random Google ads, but defined ad space given the CS.
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Re: Future of publishing?

Post by MosesSiregar » February 12th, 2010, 12:42 pm

I took the plunge into Authonomy a week ago, Friday. It's been a really positive experience so far, for a number of reasons. I currently have the #1 most backed book over the last week, if you're curious.

I've received around 70 comments on the work over the last week, and some of the comments were extremely helpful. When I first put my first chapters on the site, I was getting a lot of "very good, but there's this ..." sort of comments. I saw the pattern, fixed the issue after a couple of days, and now almost everyone seems to love the manuscript. So it was a great place to get some quick feedback from a host of others writers.

I've also gotten a little glimpse into what it must be like for Nathan and others to read the slush pile, although I suspect that the quality of works on Authonomy is considerably better than the general slush. But it's been interesting to see how many manuscripts can be rejected after a paragraph or a page, whereas a small number just suck you in and won't let you go. I think I'd be a terrible agent or acquiring editor, though, because I'd want to accept too many books. I've found at least a few works on authonomy that I thought were extremely good.

I've offered my own feedback on many dozens on manuscripts, usually just the first chapter, or the first page if the work seems too flawed. Pretty much everyone has been thankful for my comments, even when I've been critical, so that feels good.

I've met some very nice people, and one person in particular may be turning into a dedicated crit partner. She really helped me with my first chapter, and she said I really helped fix her first chapter as well.

I've also learned that I can't always understand what British people are saying :'P (most people on the site seem to be in the UK).

But it's been great. I don't know if I'll push towards the editor's desk or not, but I might (I'm at around #300 overall right now, but I've been climbing at a nice pace). If I went all the way, I would hope that I'd get some valuable feedback from the HC editor, and I would hope that it would at least demonstrate to agents and editors that I'm dedicated to promoting my work. Also, while getting to the top has a lot to do with networking on the site, it's also true that there are many people on the site who will not back your book unless they think it's good. I think it would be very hard to reach the top five spots if others didn't respond favorably to your work. I'm not sure if it will be worth the effort, though. I'll see how it goes and if it's taking up too much of my time. So far it's actually helped me to do more writing and editing.
Last edited by MosesSiregar on February 27th, 2010, 1:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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