Thursday, 15 January 2009

Not what it says on the box

Some may remember the mad, frenetic dash to get my first book, Space, to the top of the pile over at Harper Collins' authonomy peer-review writers' website.

The rationale behind authonomy seemed simple enough. Using language like 'Publishing contract, anyone?' (that language has since changed, incidentally, to 'Get Read. Get Noticed. Get Published'), authonomy allowed writers to post up some, or all, of their books and then solicit votes from other users of the site. The more votes you get, the nearer to the top of the pile you get. And if you are a 'top five' book at the end of the month, your book is forwarded for review to a Harper Collins editor.

Now Harper Collins is a huge publisher that doesn't even look at unsolicited, unagented manuscripts. And most unpublished writers would chop off their left legs to get their work in front of an editor (it's a date!) at a publishing house as powerful as HC. The expectation is that if your book's any good at all, you'd get asked for a 'full read' (heavy petting) or even get through to negotiating a contract (you're smoking a fag together by now).

But it turns out that HC was just teasing. I got to the top of the pile thanks to the support of a huge number of people, many of whom were genuinely impressed and amused by, and liked, my book. I enjoyed myself immensely doing it, by the way.

Like other people who've made it to 'the editor's desk', I put a huge amount of effort into it. And don't get me wrong - I've learnt a huge amount from the experience and made some really cool contacts and pals as a result. So for that, I can only thank HC for the site.

But the HC review of my book (next to the gold star on the book page) was slapdash and odd. And many other writers who'd got to the top of the 'greasy pole', as some called it, got the same feeling. Now, over 25 chart-topping reviews, five months, into the exercise, HC has not asked for ONE full read from a writer whose book reached the top, let alone taken anything further to any degree.

Yesterday, HC sent me a note offering me the chance to put my books up as POD (Print on Demand or Publish on Demand) books on authonomy. Soon, according to the email, all books on authonomy will be available as POD books but for now only 'a few early adopters' have been offered the opportunity - and a 'gift' of the first 10 books free.

Working with, authonomy will add a button to each book's page, which currently allows you to read the book, watchlist the book or back the book. They'll add 'buy the book'.

Which potentially means that the whole exercise was purely about populating a new POD site with a community of unpublished authors who can now upload their books to sell them, at an unusually expensive cost to the author per book (limiting the profitability for the writer), to people who come clicking to the site.

This was arguably never about publishing contracts or talent spotting. It was never about 'Beating the Slushpile', as authonomy claims in its graphics and claimed in its original 'blurb'. It was about creating a POD site so that Harper Collins could hedge its bets against the 'new revolution' of Internet based publishing and digital publishing.

Worse, the exercise exposes some interesting values from HC and its approach to social websites. At no stage did it share its roadmap with the writers populating the site. At no stage did it seek our input, advice or approval. It just rolled out what it was giving us and we were expected to be pathetically grateful to receive it. All the way to the offer to become a POD book and sign away our rights in return for being part of a huge publisher's experiment.

Many of the writers I know on authonomy are disappointed, upset and angry at the move. It's not why we went there (there are established and, from a profit sharing point of view, better POD sites out there) in the first place. And people feel that while it's maybe not been directly dishonest, HC has hardly been transparent about its intentions for the site and the writers (some 3,500 and more) who have put their work on it.

And HC certainly hasn't been inclusive at any level - in fact, it communicates with the people on the site either through a sysadmin's alias ('Rik') or the alias 'authonomy'. We've never seen people - even the editors who review the books are anonymous. I'm sure HC thinks its being terribly funky and Web 2.0, but it's not. It's missed the first rule of these types of engagements with a community. Foster a community, be part of a community, engage with the community.

HC hasn't, because it doesn't respect that community enough. Lets face it, we're just wannabe's on the slushpile anyway. But I rather feel that it might just find that community pushing back a little now. Many people have had enough of being treated like the carvers in front of Gormenghast - even more so when it's become clear that the Groans don't want any of our carvings.

Someone on the site asked recently, 'Is authonomy a con?'. I'm afraid my answer is 'yes', I feel it rather has been.

PS: HC asked that I keep their offer to myself for the moment. I don't feel able to respect that request.

PPS: Authonomy-topping author Dan Holloway's manifesto for changing publishing is here. It's got some good thinks in it...


Anonymous said...

Authonomy does rather look like an elaborate ploy to create a POD site and hedge some bets - if any of them sell, we'll grab them.

It does all taste like a fairly high-handed and cynical scam. I hope any right-minded writer will step away from this and put their support into something more community based - if such a thing existed.

Phillipa said...

It's yet another wrong turn for this site. HarperCollins have an uncanny knack for creating unhappy Authonomers. A more inclusive approach, as Alexander points out, could produce better results for all involved. And I wish they would drop the breathless 'Hey Guys!' tone of all their communications. Their contempt for their own creation is very dissapointing.

Keefieboy said...

Damn, damn, damn. I'm still reeling somewhat. I wonder if anyone will take them up on the offer, which is not even what they originally said it was when you factor in delivery costs from the UK.

Richard P-S said...

Alexander, you've just risen another few notches in my estimation. Well done for exposing this (I seem to be one of those who hasn't received HC's note, which could be interpreted in several ways, all uncomplimentary).

I would advise those who have received the email and the generous 10 books for free offer not to take it up. I would also advise the authonomy community as a whole not to go down the route of POD through authonomy.

Authonomy has moved from being potentially innovative to being concretely exploitative.

Lisa Hinsley said...


Diane started a thread linking to your blog. I almost didn't look, but now I'm so glad I did.

In December, I made the choice to back away from Authonomy, and reclaim my time as my own. After reading your words (and thank you so much for sharing) I am very glad I did. I feel like I just wasted six months of my time. Not completely, mind, as I have improved my book and made some good friends I might otherwise not have. It's the false pretenses of it all that leaves the bitter taste.

Lisa (Ginger)

SAF said...

Amen. They're not getting my gold star books unless they pay for them, the same way they pay for other books.

existential al ain said...

Never trust the medicine man.

the real nick said...

No sour grapes, then, eh?

AnthonyJS said...

Alexander, I am another who was approached with this half-baked proposal. And having looked at the software with which the books would be produced (I have some experience of putting books together from MS through to print) it is clear just how bad the finished product will be. I think we have been fed a line. You're right that none of this has been about being published in the mainstream but it is about POD.

alexander... said...

Nick. No, not at all. Why would it be? My book made it through as a Top Five book and I received the same consideration as the other 25 Top Five picked authors have since authonomy was announced. I'm a 'winner'.

If my reaction was down to sour grapes, I'd have dealt with it all back when I got my crit from HC in November.

Most of the people I know on authonomy are horrified at this development - and it's nothing to do with grapes and more to do with mistrust and misrepresentation.

the real nick said...

(I was just heckling...)

sniper-cell writer said...

Hmm, I got an e-mail too. Two e-mails in fact. One correcting the other. I must've had the wrong specs becaus I could've sworn the second one said

Dear would-be sucker,

our incompetence department was keen to demonstrate its credentials as we know writers prefer to have their work handled by idiots. Now that we have demonstrated the botch-job we will make of exploiting you, we hope we have done enough to convince you to kiss our ring.

Oh, and by the way (that's me now). There are plenty of community-base ideas, anonymous. I'm sure you know where to look and whom to contact

Anonymous said...

Hi Alex,
Thanks for sharing the info.
I have deleted my book from authonomy as a consequence. Like you said, it was not advertised as a POD site and I didn't realise that when I left comments on people's books I was ranking POD. If I'm ranking POD, I need a cheque.
When I have done the rounds of every agent and publisher in the every country on Earth, I might put it back up on authonomy so my girlfirend can buy it me for Xmas.
In fact, not authonomy, lulu.

Jane Smith said...

I started hearing rumours about this a couple of months ago, but assumed the rumours contained more bluster than fact. I don't know what the monetary cost will be to the authors concerned: but this can't be a good idea for the books. There'll be no editorial control, no real sales or promotion: it's a nightmare. It will, of course, reduce the slush-pile, but it's not real publishing, as most people will understand the term.

I'd be very interested in seeing a copy of this email, and I'm sure that Writer Beware! would, too.

If anyone is prepared to share it with me, in confidence, I'd be grateful if you'd forward it to me at "hprw at tesco dot net". Or send it to Victoria Strauss, at Writer Beware (there's a link to that blog on the front page of my blog, How Publishing Really Works).

Lauri Shaw said...

This is all absolutely on the money.

The very first thing I did when I got the letter - a letter I found quite clumsy as a sales attempt, to be honest - was pull my content off the site. Then I requested my profile be cancelled.

As I've said to a few folks privately, had I chosen to put my work on a POD site, that would have been one thing. But I never made the decision to do this with my work, and I don't appreciate having that decision made for me, so I'm outta there before the "buy" buttons show up.

Why for goodness sake would I want to partner with a company that has proven that its people lack the awareness to be aboveboard?

Along with Richard, I commend you for blogging about this. I considered doing it myself, in fact, and you beat me to the punch. What right do they have to ask anyone to keep this a secret? I don't think they really expected us to - do you?

Anonymous said...

This all came to my attention yesterday, and I have to say I suspected something of the sort. However, there was always a slim hope, as there probably is with all writers, that HC really were seeking new talent. I was on the ed's desk the same month as Alexander and SAF. Unlike you, though, Alexander, I can't say I enjoyed the run up. Around 3 days before the end of the month I effectively pulled out and just let it ride. The intensity (dare I say 'deperation'?) was something I found distressing. Although my novel sample is still there, I haven't visited the site since, and the decision to pull out at that point saved my sanity. The comment I got from the 'editor' was useful, but not knowing his/her identity, I couldn't follow it up. There seemed no enthusiasm or interest in publishing the work of anyone, either that month or any other. Now, perhaps, we know why. If people are daft enough to take up the offer, it could make HC a lot of money on the backs of struggling authors. And what's the bet that if any did get taken up, they would be summarily rejected on the grounds that first publication rights were no longer available?
This is cynicism of the worst kind. At least on sites like YouWriteOn, winning a professional critique is not wrapped up as something else, and when you receive it, the reviewer has put their name to the comments. Any faint desire I had (and it was very faint) to return to Authonomy with another book has now been well and truly dispelled.

Anonymous said...

I got the two emails too, and can only agree with the other comments here and Alexander's excellent post.
Lovely how they say you've been 'specially chosen' too.

Simon (Doubts)

Jack Norell said...

I think I might be a little less suspicious than others who've commented. And I've not been on the site while my wife has. Here's what it looks like to me:

HC UK started out with an idea to engage budding authors. Built a site and put an incentive in place. I.e. Authonomy was born.

This being a half-baked plan at best (completely normal for corporates trying new things) there wasn't a plan for PR or profit from the site. The whole "we gotta do Web 2.0" imperative was to pressing for this.

During the HC reorganizations this past autumn, some members of the C-level team got wind of the loss-making site with a few thousand participants. They now ordered someone to figure out how to make it pay its own way.

Not having the time, or support, to engage with the audience, the immediate default was to a proven model: Print On Demand.

And thus the whole mess we're seeing now.

This is a massive bait-and-switch from HC, and definitely exploiting the goodwill they'd built up.

As someone mentioned, there are better POD suppliers out there at lower prices. And, they let the writer chose if they want to be associated with them, or even listed as a POD author.

HC's Authonomy is very likely to be viewed as a botched initiative within the year.

Feendog said...

Now that you've got this sour-grapey whinge off your chest Alex, maybe now might be a good time to indulge in a little reasoned argument.

First and foremost Harper Collins are a business. They need to make a profit. Keep that firmly in mind. It's important.

Have you any idea of the operating profits of the UK's arm of their business? Any idea of their operating costs?

Find out those figures and divide their operating costs by the number of books they publish each year and you'll get some idea of the investment they make, on average, in each book.

Do they want some return from Authonomy? You bet. They're not a charity. Should they pick up a book from there and publish it simply for the sake of image?

Harper Collins have provided what is an excellently designed and well-thought out site for free. Yes - it costs you nothing. Does it cost them? Yes it does.

So what if they have now decided they want to try POD? Do you think they'll make a huge amount of money from this? No - they'll make peanuts. If I stuck a pencil in my cat's arse I'd have a more readable work of fiction on my wall at home than some of the self-published books it has been my misfortune to attempt to read.

So what if Harper Collins are 'hedging their bets' by entering into the world of POD? They're a business, remember. Does it turn Authonomy into a POD site? Nope - it will still retain its function. All HC will do is to add some new functionality.

I think it's a good thing.

Remember that the users of Authonomy were offered nothing, promised nothing, except an experiment at a different way of doing things. HC have kept their side of the bargain - they've considered the top 5 books every month. And found them wanting.

For what it's worth I agree with them - none of the books that have reached the top 5 that I've read have been ready - some are even incomplete. Worse still, one or two have been terrible. Yes - despite the gushing reviews and many backings.

As for Harper Collins consulting us on their business strategy, or their plans for Authonomy - last time I looked, neither you, nor I, nor anyone else on Authonomy was a board member of Harper Collins.

We're their guests - they've provided us with a fantastic web site where we can get reviews and reads of our works - all for free. Do they want something out of all this? Of course they do - and I, for one, have no problem with that.

Did they lie to me? No they didn't. Have they broken any promises to me? No they haven't. Have they provided an opportunity to try things a different way? Yes, they have.

That's all they promised to do.

Authonomy does precisely what it says on the tin.

KateK said...

Hi Alexander! Ah, so you got the email too (or, rather, two emails). Well, I received my invitation yesterday and tried to find any positives in it. Failed. Bounced it off an authonomist friend of mine whose judgment I trust. She flared up even madder than I did.

With that said, authonomy -- in its pre-POD condition -- has been an unmitigated benefit to me. Some splendid people and marvelous books I would never have encountered otherwise, and since I was suffering writer's block when I did all those reviews that got me attention, I was happily more or less spending my time the way I would've wanted to anyway! But I fear it may have been a very brief golden age on the site. And they didn't have to spoil it. They could have monetized with ads.

It is disappointing.

alexander... said...

Most of the people I have met, know and respect on authonomy have expressed similar or stronger views to my own.

I haven't met you before, Feendog. But your whole 'We're not on the board of HC' really doesn't wash.

HC started out into Web 2.0 stuff, it ought to know what it's doing. And it doesn't.

It asked people to invest their time and effort in a process and it should have been transparent about that process. And it wasn't.

It talked about creating a community that would 'beat the slush'. And it hasn't.

I was annoyed at the way HC used the '12 good men' ploy to dampen down people's negative reaction to the Oct/Nov crits - and the way they used a 'divide and rule' style by asking people not to talk about it. And now they've done that again and I'm talking about it this time.

You sure you don't work for HC, BTW?

Sorry I have to leave it there. I'm off out - I wouldn't usually rush a response but you made these points on authonomy too and I thought you deserved at least some sort of response.

Feendog said...


I think you're looking for nefarious motives when there aren't any.

I ask again. How much money do you think Harper Collins are going to make by adding in the capability for POD to Authonomy?

Small change - that's all.

Is POD/web publishing going to take off? Well you might find that nugget of gold amongst the thousands of turds out there. But are people going to invest their hard earned cash and time and effort in a product of uncertain quality?

A few writers might - but POD won't be making a serious inroad into the business of publishers anytime soon.

You say that many people on Authonomy have expressed similar and stronger views. Good - that's their prerogative. As it is HC's to reject any manuscript they deem to fail to meet their business requirements.

What did HC promise us?

An experiment - an attempt at a different way of doing things.

That's all - no more, no less. They haven't failed to deliver. They haven't been underhand. They haven't hidden their 'true' intentions.

The site will still function as before - an experiment in 'beating the slush' - but now it will have the added bonus of authors being able to offer their work via POD, if they want to.

What's the big deal here?

I think it's wonderful. It's most certainly not a scam. To be some kind of scam they'd have to be defrauding people - in what way have HC defrauded you?

Or even misled you? Show me. Quote their words. Show me the promises they have broken. Show me where they have been fraudulent.

All that has happened is that a few talented writers have had their hopes dashed. HC offered them no more than a slim possibility, an opportunity - and they have delivered on that offer.

In what way was HC not transparent? Just because they didn't mention that at some point in the future they may add the facility for POD on their website? Maybe that wasn't their original intention.

And so what, even if they did have this plan? They're not obliged to inform us. They don't owe us anything.

Honestly - some people see reptilian shape-shifting aliens everywhere!

HC decide to try something different. It's up to them how to progress their experiment.

If people don't like it they will vote with their feet, but HC have delivered exactly what they promised to do.

So they're going to make a few changes and people are up in arms? Did HC promise something I missed here? Did they sign ownership of their site and business to a group of people on Authonomy whilst I wasn't looking?

We get to use the site for free. It's a gift. I seriously hope they don't pull the plug on their experiment because of the whinging and whining that's going on.

Debbie said...

Just seen this via Diane's post. I didn't get an email. :-( I'm obviously not high-enough profile as I haven't had much time for the site lately. But I had what I thought was a great critique from my top-5 editor's crit. So what do they want?

Lorri said...

This was leaked several months ago, and I can't remember the exact details, but and editor or someone from HC was at some company 'do', and leaked all about the POD stuff. I was none too happy at the time, and there were threads on the site about it, but I waited to see if the inevitable was true.

It now seems it is.

Way to go authconomy


Nick Poole said...

All that plugging! Sold your soul for a mess of potage, eh?

Oh dear. At least you met me.

Jane Smith said...

I was interested in this comment, further upstream:

"I was annoyed at the way HC used the '12 good men' ploy to dampen down people's negative reaction to the Oct/Nov crits - and the way they used a 'divide and rule' style by asking people not to talk about it. And now they've done that again and I'm talking about it this time."

Is there anywhere I can find out more about that? I'm horribly nosy....

Feendog said...

For anyone interested, HC have responded to the criticisms and reinforced their original intentions for the site here.

Still seem like underhand behaviour to you? Not to me it doesn't.

alexander... said...

Simon, you really have set yourself out to be HC's voice on this, haven't you?

Who said 'underhand'? I certainly didn't. I think HC has been less than transparent and certainly less than sincere.

But I don't think the argument's about 'underhand', is it?

By the way, you mentioned my 'sour grapesy whinge'. This, as I said to TRNick, isn't about sour grapes. If I was moaning that other writers got contracts and I didn't, now THAT would be sour grapes. I'm not envying anyone, but pointing out that I and many others have given time and effort to an initiative that now appears to have been, at best, misrepresented to the people it is targeting - and upon whose content and co-operation it depends.

So you can drop the 'HC is giving us so much for free' stuff as well. We're giving HC the content that it needs to populate the site. And we're getting back remarkably little in return compared to other Web 2.0 sites, services and communities.

I also at no stage suggested that HC is intending to monetise authonomy with POD revenue, BTW. I happen to believe it's playing a bigger 'platform' game than that.

Feendog said...

Hi Alex,

No, I haven't set out to be HC's voice on this - I just strongly disagree with your view on the matter.

The whole tenor of your original post was about how people have been misled and how HC have effectively lied to us all, and how their original intent was to create a POD site all along. OK - so you didn't actually use the word 'underhand' - but there was a very strong implication of that.

Well HC's response effectively quashes that.

You moan about how no author has been picked up - maybe they have. Time moves slowly in publishing. You can't draw any general conclusion about how the site is working from only 5 months.

Maybe the reason is because those books aren't good enough - either in a writing sense, or in a commercial sense. Have you considered this possibility? Or is it inconceivable, that so many fellow writers who told you your book was wonderful could have been wrong?

Your article makes the claim that the whole site is about POD from its inception - HC have flatly denied this.

Time will tell which of you is right.

I know who my money is on.

Mockingbird said...

My feeling wasn't so much anger as confusion. On one hand the offer seems slightly attractive, it's got HC behind it. But on the other hand, I would be giving over my book and once that's done I won't be able to put my book out to other publishers which might take it, especially as Harper Collins apparently doesn't publish the kind of book that Cats is.

The other thing?! Far from being an exclusive offer for early adopters, it would appear that almost everyone has received said email (I guess they're sending them in batches)! So we're in an exclusive crowd of a couple of thousand.

I won't be taking it up, I was initially tempted, but I want to put my book to the publisher I believe might give me a conventional contract for it first. When I do go POD it will be after some extensive research and having read April's book on Indie Publishing from cover to cover.

Gary Canton said...

Hi Alexander,

I guessed early on that Authonomy was a marketing exercise and, like you I concentrated on making contacts.

I decided to 'live publish' my first draft and get some realtime edits. This was successful to a certain degree. If you win the rat race (Top 5) You're still just a rat.

My suggestion is that we can easily use Authonomy to our own purposes. For instance, how about creating our own 'live publishing' site? What get written is available for sale there and then for e-readers and community members?

Think about it. We could even use Authonomy as the marketing tool it was for HC....

Wicked grin..

Gary Canton

Gary Canton said...

Greetings from authonomy!

As an authonomy member, we’re very excited to invite you to join the private beta of a brand new project from the team behind

You can leap behind our holding page right now by clicking the following link, and entering the beta password listed below:


PASSWORD: betaprogram

BookArmy is brand new, and it’s still in private beta – this means the site is only open to a handful of invited members. That means you! There are heaps of prizes waiting for the most active new members…

BookArmy gives you a place to discuss and recommend every book you’ve ever loved. Build and share a personal list of favourite reads, and BookArmy will connect you to the people, discussions, groups and events that best match your interest – or let you start them yourself.

We’ve really big plans for BookArmy – but we need your help! With every new member and every new review BookArmy’s recommendations get a little smarter, and we’d like you to help us really spread its wings. We’d also like you to let us know about things that don’t work too well – we need you to help us whip this into shape before our full public launch! Here’s what you can do:

- Register to create your own profile, and start building a list of books you love
- Link similar books and similar authors.
- Get reviewing – let other members know what’s great
- Start forums and discussion boards – don’t be shy!
- Send us your feedback: click the ‘say hello’ link in the footer.

All the best – we hope you enjoy this sneak peek at, and we look forward to seeing you back on authonomy soon!

The authonomy team

Gary Canton said...

I don't 'do' anonymous...

Lee said...

I have just removed my YA fantasy Mortal Ghost from the Authonomy site after reading your post. I was never interested in conventional publishing from the outset, only some publicity, and I certainly will not allow HC to POD my fiction for me.

Very few of the 50-100 daily downloads of my novel - and there are many, many more of the podcasts - come in fact from Authonomy.

Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

Cliff Burns said...


I'm the guy who posted "Is Authonomy a Con?" and got roundly screamed at by offended authors when I did so. A shameful response from people but I guess no one likes to be the victim of a con job, it makes you look soooo stupid. I thank you for this post, it articulates my feelings and, I suspect, that of many others on the site who now realize they've been deceived but lack the courage to speak up because they KNOW what a rude reception they'll get.

Good luck with your writing endeavors and don't give up--perseverance gets you further than talent, that's one thing I've learned after all my time in this biz...

Cliff Burns said...

Folks like Feendog want to have it both ways. "No, Authonomy isn't a con but even if it does convert itself from a talent search into a POD money grab, that STILL doesn't mean they're acting in bad faith. They're a business, after all, and have a right to make money."

Good God...

Authonomy will be toast within a year, unless there are enough stupid, desperate authors around willing to shell out big bucks for over-priced, poor quality books. And who (pathetically) require a community circle jerk to reassure them that it's only a matter of time before fame and fortune come calling.

Hannah said...

HaI wanted to leave a comment too!!!!

But everything already been said. *sigh* So, will just make up the numbers.....

Anonymous said...

Alexander, KeefieBoy, an others: You are some of the more noxious examples of neurotics craving attention on Authonomy. Any disappointment you harvest from your efforts is richly deserved. Whay don't you take the POD offer?

Roland said...

Alexander - As a fellow Authomony player who also made it to the Editor's Desk I have to disagree with you. Authonomy is, and always was, a slush pile - but an open slush pile that actually gets looked at. Previously they would never have considered unsolicited manuscripts at all. HC are a commercial publisher, looking for books they think can make them money. They are not giving out literary awards not literary critique, their considerations were always going to be commercial ones. Now you and I might disagree with their judgements or think they have appalling taste and no imagination, but that really is not the point. The most you can hope is that they read stuff - and clearly they do, since they have approached several authors outside of the top ten.

The POD thing? Well, if anyone remembers when YouWriteOn started, it offered a button (which never functioned) to 'order a copy of this book' if you liked it. I don't think the principle is bad (and I certainly don't see it as the raison d'etre of the site) but I wouldn't touch it myself - if I wanted to go POD, I don't need Authonomy. As it happens, I wasn't one of the chosen few they emailed with the POD 'offer' anyway.

Yes, there are plenty of things wrong with Authonomy, and I don't spend time there any more, but I still think any move on the part of a mainstream publisher to open out the publishing process is to be congratulated. Like any commercial publisher, they are always looking for authors that they think will make them money, but the number of new, unknown authors they were going to take was always going to be very small. I'm surprised anyone expected anything else.

Cliff Burns said...

From a post I just wrote for the Authonomy site:

"Authonomy was envisioned by HarperCollins to be POD right from the beginning. The word has crept out ahead of schedule and they've been caught with their pants around their ankles. What they're saying to authors is "Hey, your book isn't good enough for us to publish but if YOU'D like to pay US for that privilege..."

The only response an author should have to that overture is STICK IT WHERE THE SUN DON'T SHINE. The sad thing is, if HarperCollins had come clean about their intentions from the beginning, we wouldn't be having this war of words. Instead, they gave the impression that this was a talent-spotting site and books posted here would be given serious consideration by HarperCollins staffers. The reality is much different. The influential editors don't come NEAR this place, they've got some assistant of an assistant poking their nose in every so often and then returning to their myriad other duties--getting people coffee, licking envelopes, polishing the editors' shoes.

Some of you will never accept this reality and will go to your grave defending HarperCollins, who are a CORPORATE entity with a CORPORATE mentality. I've said it before but it bears repeating since this thread has grown so long: Authonomy wasn't set up to find GOOD authors, it was designed to identity desperate ones."

Chloe said...

Thanks so much for this. Since YouWriteOn has succeded in thoroughly p****** me off, I did consider joining Authonomy - now I won't. I've heard bad things about this site before but this has really finished it off for me.

Just on a tangent, I love your reference to Gormenghast; I actually really enjoyed that when it was on TV...good analogy as well!

J. M. Strother said...

What a shame. Glad I did not grab at that brass ring. So glad you posted this. Knowledge really is power, and writers have damn little power in the first place. It's getting harder and harder to trust anyone these days.

Jane Smith said...

Just to let you know, I've blogged a little about this now, and have linked back to this piece. My blog post focuses on whether Blurb is an appropriate POD provider for Authonomy's members, and you can find it here:

Floot said...

Thanks for being part of saving me wasting time on Authonomy. I was dubious about any site inviting people to post huge chunks of work that I could see despite not being a registered member. I'm not convinced that it's not worth the effort.

I appreciate it :)

Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist! said...

FUCK authonomy. I'm so glad I deleted my novel from that website before the POD button became available.

From The Dungeons

Book Marketing And McNabb's Theory Of Multitouch

(Photo credit: Wikipedia ) I clearly want to tell the world about A Decent Bomber . This is perfectly natural, it's my latest...