Have you heard of Authonomy? It’s a website created by HarperCollins in the United Kingdom. Authors can post 10,000 words or more of works in progress or completed books. I decided to try it, and am in the early stages of addiction.
There are books of every genre, both fiction and non-fiction. You can search by keyword, and there are sub-categories of listings organized by genre that you can browse.
How it works
There are bookshelves on each member’s page. If you “back” an author’s book, it goes on your bookshelf (members call it “shelving”), and he/she gets a credit that can raise their book in the rankings. Rankings have a payoff—possible publication.
At the end of each month, the top 5 books on the site’s collective bookshelves have their first 10,000 words reviewed by HarperCollins editors. And a few publishing contracts have been awarded. This is not a quick process—it can take several months to reach the top 5.
There’s good writing on Authonomy, so it can be fun, and you can comment on the books you sample (if you’re registered). From what I’ve seen, comments are generally positive and/or helpful. It’s a great way to get fresh eyes for your novel. To be honest, there’s also writing you can feel superior to. But give those writers credit—they’re putting it out there, and working on their craft.
In addition to the writing, there’s a social side. You can “friend” writers, which may ultimately help your book rise in the ratings because friends see the activity of friends. If yours back your book, their friends learn about it, and word can spread virally. You can also leave messages for authors, too.
There are those who are working the system to try to increase their book’s ranking. One that I think of as a butterfly is a woman who “shelved” my kitty-cat. She adds several books a day to her shelf, which can hold only 5, so hers come and go at a rapid rate. I’m not interested in doing that, and hope my book will rise on its merits.
You have to pitch your book
It’s good practice on the marketing side of being a novelist, too. You have to make up a “short pitch” using no more than 25 words, and a 200-word full pitch. This takes discipline. Here’s my short pitch for The Vampire Kitty-cat Chronicles:
In this chuckle-out-loud satire/fantasy for cat lovers and vampire novel for people who dislike vampire novels, a newly undead tomcat struggles to find a life.
And then my full pitch:
It’s never pleasant when a vampire sucks out most of your life and leaves you for dead. It’s even more unpleasant when you don’t die and you learn that you’re now a vampire.
So what does a new vampire do, especially if you are a calico tomcat who was just on the way to hook up with a seductive Siamese when a starving vampire turned you into breakfast? You decide on revenge, and you’re plunged into the vampire underground of Bloomburg, Illinois.
But your attacker is a victim too, and she becomes your new associate. She runs for city council to fight for vampire rights, with you as her running mate.
In the process, you are almost skewered with a wooden stake by a mob with blazing torches, tried for murder, nearly crunched by a seven-foot undead guy, almost shotgunned into undead pieces, come inches from having your tail cut off and seconds from being fried by the sun, and kidnapped twice.
Oh, yeah, and almost turned into a (shudder) politician. And you’ve just gotten started.
As it turns out, life doesn’t get any easier when you’re dead.
If you have the skills, you can create a cover for your book. Tip: make sure the title is readable small. Here’s mine, at the size you have to work with.
Here’s where the addiction part comes in: when a person comments on your book, you get an email. My book soon started getting comments, and suddenly I was checking my email every couple of hours, hoping for yet another one, and then going to the website to see if my book had risen in the ranks. It rose very rapidly in the first week (over 1500 rankings), perhaps due to comments like these (although it has slowed this week):
“Had to wait until I stopped laughing before I could make these comments. Pure comic genius. . .”
“I so enjoy this, I think I’ll be reading it to my German shepherd tonight at bedtime. It could give him nightmares, though.”
“Bwahahaha! This is great! I’ll be picking this up and reading it often. Sometimes a person needs a little laughter.”
“How much fun is this? Just the right balance of… well… everything. Love it. If I could write like this I’d be rich. Or perhaps changing my name to Terry Pratchett. Or Ray.”
I confess that I had to look Terry Pratchett up. Turns out this is high praise: Sir Terence David John Pratchett is a contemporary British author known for his frequently comical work in the fantasy genre.
Things I hope will come of your reading this post
1. You check Authonomy out. Interesting, and entertaining. http://authonomy.com/
2. Check out my novel—you can just do a search for my last name, Rhamey, and you’ll find a link.
3. If you like what you see, please register and then back my book—after all, I’d like to end up in that top 5 for an editorial review. I’d consider it a great favor.
4. Post your work and see what happens. If you do, look me up and let me know so I can check out your stuff.
Caution: there may not be a cure.