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: