Authonomy Contracts Three Books From Members

Eoin Purcell

Strike me down
I have to say I saw this coming. After some recent bad press on POD issues, Authonomy issued an e-mail informing the community that they have contracted three books from amongst the huge slush pile of authors.

Coffee At Kowalski’s by Miranda Dickinson

Rosie is happy at Kowalski’s florists in New York – until her past catches up with her. Romantic comedy with a cast of memorable characters.

Reaper: Coming soon to a family near you by Steven Dunne

A combination of Silence of the Lambs and The Poet set in Derby. A long dormant serial killer strikes again and the hunt is on.

Never Say Die by Melanie Davies and Lynne Barrett-Lee

The incredible story of an exceptional life…

The subtle genius of Authonomy
Is that the author already has a profile page and an image, a book and probably some fans built up through the site community. Yes I think perhaps some people underestimated the potential of this digital slush-pile!


9 thoughts on “Authonomy Contracts Three Books From Members

  1. What’s really interesting is that none of these books ever appeared on the ‘top 5’, the rankings that are set by the community. Which goes to show that HC are looking beyond the choices of the group mind, and also that group mind is not a way to single out successful manuscripts. It’ll be interesting to see the effect it has on the site, though.

    1. Hey Litlove,

      Great to see a comment from you again! I think the effect in the site will be very interesting indeed. What floats to the top now may well be influenced by this first batch of decisions and soon we may see the interaction of decisions and reactions followed by more decisions. Over time the value in Authonomy may well be in seeing how authors and communities change and react over time, far more than the books HC actually get from it!


  2. I think my problem is that I had OVER estimated it.

    There are some really critical structural problems with authonomy. You can’t run a ‘community’ or ‘Social Network’ site like a prison camp or fish-farm, dropping manna into the underlings from anonymous sources.

    What excited me about authonomy was the idea of a site that was bringing a new egalitarianism to publishing, where communities voted for work to be highlighted. What we’ve got is a useless beauty contest and a few disinterested editors combing the Victorian dung-heap of books.

    What we have is 3500 and more hopefuls being treated badly by anonymous ‘editors’ and ‘administrators’. If this were anything other than a publishing slushpile, there’d be a riot!!!

    1. Alex,

      Thanks for the comment!

      For a long time I thought Blogging was a way of bring egalitarianism to publishing. But it is not.
      Blogging is governed by the same old power laws of any media.

      For a while you thought the online community was the way to bring egalitarianism to publishing but the truth is that publishing cannot BE egalitarian. The whole point of publishing is to choose the winners, the elite who warrant (supposedly) to rise above the rest and become stars. Not every one can be a star. Publishers are filters and filters differentiate and divide, its the way they survive and make money!

      If you want a friendly egalitarian online slush-pile there may well be room for it, in fact most of the internet acts pretty much like that, but perhaps your expectations a site run by a publisher were too high?


  3. Alex. I think you’ve made some valued points but I would really appreciate you going into more detail and a few more specifics. For ex; I would like more on your third paragraph..thanks jmk311

  4. Perhaps my expectations of a site run by a publisher were too high?

    Oh, yes! I see it now and feel perhaps a tad naive – but the experience I’ve gained and contacts I’ve made from the authonomy experience have been salutary. The difference it’s made to my writing, particularly my second book (not the silly ‘made it to the top’ one), which has been completely transformed, has been eye-opening.

    I owe authonomy a lot, truth be told. But I have ended up loathing, with a passion, the ‘fishbowl’ mentality that’s driving the site. That’s not social media or a community – and it’s not using the power of the Internet to create new opportunities and innovate. And the clumsy, jerky communication between the faceless HC and the goldfish in the bowl has misled an awful lot of people and has alienated a lot of people, too.

    One point I made on the forums over there was that this actually does matter – although we are supplicants to HC, we are also quite a large number of people whose view of HC will be shaped by how we feel treated by authonomy. The reaction to my grumpy blog post, which arguably promoted HC to push out the news of these signings early, was something that touched thousands more people across writers’ sites and forums – so a revision of HCs communications with the authonomy community would be, for instance, something I’d recommend with my professional hat on.

    Given that most people on authonomy have, to one extent or another, been promoting their work on there reading others’ work and critiquing it in order to get read themselves and generally pushing their books up the rankings, to have it confirmed that HC is taking absolutely no notice whatsoever of the rankings has been a little deflating, to say the least, for many.

    Jim – read some of the crits that have been handed out to the writers that made the ‘top five’ on authonomy. SFFworld’s moderator’s assessment of my own crit (which I accepted with as much grace as I could) was an eye opener for me. Sending special offers and promotional opportunities to ‘selected’ members of the community and asking them to keep it from others, only participating in the community under anonymous handles and engaging only when threatened or criticised. Maybe not quite treating people ‘badly’, then – but certainly not with any degree of respect.

    If this were any other form of organisation engaging with its public, partners or suppliers, you’d be hearing a lot more about it. As we’re all supplicants, there’s less reaction. But there’s certainly been a reaction, nonetheless. Given that authonomy depends on our content, I’d argue that more open and straightforward engagement would be a critical strategic move unless HC wants to see more of the same in the future. It won’t be seeing it from me, I don’t think, because I want to get on with my writing and not get mired down in this debate – or become tagged as ‘Mr authonomy critic’, which I feel is a growing danger!

  5. I’ve withdrawn from the site. I was never interested in conventional publishing, or at least in any not permitting simultaneous free e-editions a la the Cory Doctorow model, and I would hardly trust a bunch of unknown people to tell me how to edit my work. Mostly I was curious to see if I’d attract new readers through Authonomy, which proved rare. I suppose I’m one of the exceptions, though, since most of its members seem bent on the seal of approval a publishing contract is supposed to grant.

    Authonomy was the only writer’s site I’ve ever joined, and it will likely be the last. I’d rather spend my time writing and reading, plus a little living. (And I’m in the final stages of preparing my second novel, CORVUS, for serialisation, while my first is downloaded steadily 50-100 times per day, the podcasts even more often.)

  6. What wasn’t mentioned when Authonomy made its announcement of these three acquisitions was that Never Say Die was actually submitted to HarperCollins by the authors’ literary agent, Andrew Lownie: that sale appeared in Lownie’s December newsletter, some time before its acquisition was announced by Authonomy; and I believe the book first appeared on Authonomy after that sale was made.

    Dunne had already self-published his book.

    The third book, though, was found in the list of books on Authonomy.

    To go off at a slight tangent, I’ve blogged recently about whether Blurb was the best choice of POD provider for Authonomy: Blurb was set up to print large-scale, full-colour art books, not text-based books like novels and memoirs. Their unit cost appears to be a little high compared to other PODs. Regardless of the whole debate over the POD issue, which I don’t want to raise again here, I’m still perplexed over why Authonomy went with Blurb.

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