Authonomy is a website for readers, writers and publishers. On authonomy, both unpublished and self-published authors are invited to post their works to be read by visitors online. At least 10,000 words of the work must be made available for reading.
The cost to create your profile and upload your book is free - for now. HarperCollins, whose book editors developed this site, claims that this site - for writers, editors and publishers - will do away with the slush pile and showcase the newest and brightest talent out there. Since a beta launch in 2007, it has acquired over 24,000 members and went live in September 2009.
Authonomy is not the first site like this. Previous sites similar to this one have come and gone. The Digital Writing Workshop was the effort of Del Rey, which is part of Random House. Their critique system of the writings of participating authors never did lead to the discovery of any new writers. No longer associated with Del Rey or Random House, this site turned into the Online Writing Workshop for SF, Fantasy and Horror.
iPublish was Time Warner’s attempt to find new writer’s by using a reader rating system to pass promising works on to Warner editors. The picks would first be published as eBooks, then be published on paper after they were shown to be gaining popularity. Only a few titles were published, then they disappeared and turned into Grand Central Publishing.
The Macmillan New Writing Program has been around since 2006. They publish only complete novels for adults (more than 60,000 words) by previously unpublished authors, though the writer can have been self-published, vanity published or published online. Submissions must be made through email. More than one novel can be submitted at a time, but each one must be submitted separately. If a submission is accepted for publication, the author should hear back from them within 12 weeks.
Several new authors have been published by the Macmillan New Writing Program , so their site is well worth checking out. Unsolicited manuscripts are welcome, but you won’t receive any advances.
Will HarperCollins attempt to do away with the slush pile be a success? Only time will tell. Not everyone is pleased with the social networking site for writers and book-lovers. For those who wished to be published and read, though, it could be a dream come true. A few writers, such as Miranda Dickinson and Steve Dunne, have successfully used authonomy. Agents and publishers have also picked up some authors from the site.
Will this just turn into another Print on Demand service? Or is there more to it? Only time will tell.