This just may be the smartest move by a mainstream publisher in some time. The Bookseller has an article on the new site here. The bones of the idea is helpfully given by HC’s corporate press release:
enables authors to create and post information, images and links quickly and easily. This new author network is a central destination where fans can find exclusive, comprehensive, and authoritative information on their favorite authors.
I am not too interested in how much use this content is on HarperCollins’ sites, although I am fairly sure they will be, what interests me is that by creating a platform for all authors (and I hope they roll this out across everyone of them [currently its got 40 from the Avon imprint]) Harper has moved their game up several dozen notches. When it is in place an functioning perhaps they should consider making it contractual for authors to blog on the platform and allow search engines to index and rank them.
That way when a reader searches an authors name the traffic can be driven not to some strange site controlled by others but directly to the publishers author pages with live blogging material, helpful insights and comments from the author. Currently they don’t seem to offer comments which is a shame and should be changed. They do have this (See below):
option on author pages (Victoria Alexander in this case). Two e-mail sign ups for readers. One that sends out a general e-mail from the Avon group and another that sends out alerts for that author. Clever stuff.
Author Assistant is cleverly packaged as an author tool (which in some ways it is) and hides the real advantage which is to build the marketing base for HarperCollins. I for one can see no problem with that, in fact I think its rather smart.
Listening to Feist but wishing I was at the gig!