Beat the Slush Pile – Authonomy

As always, via Boing Boing:

Publisher HarperCollins is launching a new web site, authonomy, aimed at book lovers and writers, whose purpose is to help unpublished authors promote their work.

What is authonomy? Here is a description, straight from the website’s FAQ:

authonomy invites unpublished and self published authors to post their manuscripts for visitors to read online. Authors create their own personal page on the site to host their project – and must make at least 10,000 words available for the public to read.

Visitors to authonomy can comment on these submissions – and can personally recommend their favourites to the community. authonomy counts the number of recommendations each book receives, and uses it to rank the books on the site. It also spots which visitors consistently recommend the best books – and uses that info to rank the most influential trend spotters.

We hope the authonomy community will guide publishers straight to the freshest writing talent – and will give passionate and thoughtful readers a real chance to influence what’s on our shelves.

How it works is you upload your manuscript and the authonomy community reads and ranks your work. The top five make it to the Editorial Board at HarperCollins.

A few more questions and answers from the site:

How much of my book should I upload?

You must make a minimum of 10,000 words available online, but we encourage you to upload as much as possible – even the entire book. No-one can support or honestly recommend a book if they can’t read a good amount of it first!

Why do you need to display so much of my work?

Two reasons.

Firstly, we want to attract serious writers to authonomy (who have complete or near complete manuscripts), who in turn will attract keen, enthusiastic readers to the site. The ten thousand word minimum ensures this.

Secondly, we firmly believe that writers should be judged on the quality of the work they produce, not on their ability to pitch, market or publicise themselves. Personal recommendations are by far the most effective way of building support for a book, and writers on authonomy stand to gain the support of a community of readers who are really motivated to spread the word about the best new writing. But they can’t help you unless you’re prepared to show them what you’ve got!

On the face of things, this seems like a brilliant use of technology on the part of HarperCollins. They set up a community, get people excited in potential projects, and find new talent. In the meantime, people will be talking about HarperCollins, which is a good thing for them.

At the least this will give me some motivation to actually finish my manuscript. I have around 12,000 good words written. Part of me wants to upload that and get feedback, but the rest of me things I should finish the novel first.

What do you all think? Will you be uploading anything to authonomy? If so, let me know.