Back in 2007, a post on uber-blog Boing Boing alerted me to a new website from Harper Collins Publishers called 'Authonomy'. The site allowed you to upload the first 10,000 words of your book and then have other writers critique your work or vote it to the top of a pile to be read by a Harper editor.
I posted about it a lot at the time, pimping my first, silly, book Space - which I uploaded to the site. I also posted about my disaffection for a process and website I came to see as debased, not because my book didn't win a gold star (because it did) but because the gold star was actually duller under its micron of plating than the average Shiny.
Authonomy did something marvellous for me, though. It allowed me to meet other writers - to learn from them, to share the ups and downs with them. It transformed my approach to writing and led to me writing more books and, I like to think, better books.
I've kept in touch on a regular and almost formal basis with a group of ex-authonomites, the feared and shadowy Grey Havens Gang. And I've kept in looser contact with a number of the people I met during my month-long odyssey propelling Space to the top of the greasy pole. You know how Twitter, Facebook and all can keep people sort of popping up every now and then.
One such is Richard Pierce. Like everyone else I knew on authonomy, he never got picked up by Harper as a result of winning the monthly plugfest, but he did get taken up by British publisher Duckworth, who published his novel, Dead Men. Which I thought was a tad funny as that wasn't the book Richard was shopping on authonomy - that was a book called Bee Bones. It's a long time ago now, but I remember Bee Bones being pretty popular on the site - a stark and yet very human book that explored a young man rooting about in his dead mother's life.
Having had his taste of the conventionally published life, Richard has taken to self publishing - and so Bee Bones is coming out as a self published novel, some seven years after I first came across it on authonomy. Which is a while, I know, but then it took Olives - A Violent Romance about the same length of time to become a book rather than a manuscript.
I'll be buying it - I enjoyed it on authonomy as I enjoyed so many books from a selection which I thought at the time consistently threw up better and more diverse reads than I could find in my local bookshop. A number of the writer friends I made have been published - a few conventionally (a couple becoming best selling novelists) but many more taking the self-published route (a couple becoming best selling novelists).
So if you need a book recommendation, take this one. Richard's Facebook page is linked right here and when he presses the button and lets Bee Bones out into the wild, you can be among the first to know.
I hope he doesn't mind me nicking his cover...