I joined this promising site as it appeared to offer a wealth of support and promise to the unpublished author. Grabbing an almost-complete manuscript (which I had christened and buried in my hard drive long ago) I set about creating an account there.
For those who haven’t heard of the website, it is a spin off site created by Harper Collins that allows unpublished authors to display their books for commenting/review by other member authors. It also features a ranking system, whereby every member is given a virtual bookshelf. If another author places your book on their own bookshelf your rank level increases. Also if you place books that look like they may do well on your own shelf you increase your own TSR or Talent Spotter Ranking.
The ultimate objective for most, however, is reaching the Ed’s Desk; where he will take a look at the top 5 ranked books per month and review them. Yes it all sounds fantastic doesn’t it, but as with everything the nitty gritties usually lie dormant at first, until you begin to unpeel the sordid truths.
Here are some brief points on what I have learned and where it’s going right and wrong in my opinion, and possibly of some others there…
1. Hit the Authonomy Forums and you will find some very disgruntled authors complaining that they are being beseiged with ‘swap read’ requests and general site spammers. Yes quite bluntly you will be messaged many times a day asking for ‘swap reads’ or reciprocal ‘comments/backings’ (by adding their books to your virtual shelf and vice versa). Its cool to begin with, but it’ll wear you down and make you feel extremely pressurised.
2. Don’t expect all the comments on your book to be genuine. The majority of the time you will realise they are thrown into your page in order for you to reciprocate quickly. Having said that, some of the authors do genuinely take the time to read through more than two sentences and offer a more constructive critique. Many of the comments may possibly stroke your ego too much, until you begin to feel that much of it is just for reciprocal support, as once the deal is done you’ll hardly hear from that author again. Some authors are genuinely critical and harsh and may lambast your book if they think it’s terrible, or tap you into improving it with gentle criticisms – these I believe are probably the most genuine members of all.
3. Even if you want to be more constructive in your appraisal of authors books, you will soon find that you run out of steam, and/or time and patience as the list of ‘return reads’ builds up like a steam engine heading straight for your brain. One morning I awoke to find ten new comments on my book. GREAT I thought to myself, until I realised they all pretty much expected me to read and comment on theirs too! Fair enough you say, but unless you travel at the speed of light you’ll end up like this : merely scanning the author’s book, commenting briefly, and getting on to the next book as quickly as you can. All joy removed for you the speed martian, and for the poor author expecting his baby to affect you deeply enough to offer some really constructive feedback.
4. If you are interested in playing this game (as opposed to actually concentrating on your writing) then you may well at some point hit the top 5. Though there are complaints of the top 5 rank being hit with some terrible books. This is because the author has made a point of begging for reads, and backing other authors books ruthlessly in order to get there – regardless of the quality of his/her work he is catapulted to the top. Sadly it appears that this might be leaving the more promising and ‘non-gaming’ authors bobbing about in the top 100 like lost buoys at sea.
5. I haven’t yet hit the Top 5, and I presume I probably never will, as I do not have the bluntness of character to beg people to read my book, and the best I can do is occasionally read and comment on others in hope of support. So possibly bang goes my Authonomy dream! But many can and WILL play the game – and if their book is fantastic enough, well HC might take notice of it. For most its a pipe dream. Forgive me, I know little of the statistics of how many writers actually end up with a publishing deal there, but the impression offered is that it is quite slim.
So that is how I have come to understand Authonomy, love it or hate. For the time being I’ll stick with it, I mean after all it can’t be worse than having your MS cryogenically pressed into a world of darkness, where there is zero hope for it anyway!