This is one experiment I’ve concluded quickly. I’d read about a Harper Collins book promotion site, Authonomy, and I thought the premise was interesting. I upload my books to the site, and people can read them and decide whether or not to back them by placing them on a limited space bookshelf. The books with the most backings will make a trip to the editor’s desk, and then you might have a chance at getting accepted with Harper Collins. It sounded cool to me, in theory.
But the way they’ve arranged the bookshelf backing system, it’s just a big popularity contest, and people trade votes in an effort to get to the top of the pile. I got messages from people telling me that they would back my book if I would back theirs. I tried to read their books and had no interest, and whoops, they just lost interest in me too.
I see no point in promoting the work of other people just to get my work listed on their shelves. I want people to select my book because they read it and it impressed them. But a few of the writers made it clear that was not how they wanted to play. I back them first, and then they might think about looking at my work.
No, this is not how I play, Sunshine. The short story is, I’ve gotten tired of the other amateur writers cruising Authonomy, so I’m taking my toys and going home.
I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. The most important goal for me is finding new readers. I don’t want votes in a popularity contest. This does me no good if people aren’t reading the story. Yes, the idea of having a book out through Harper Collins is alluring, but it’s not such a strong pull that I would obsessively spend my days trying to garner the needed votes to make it to the editor’s desk. (and, being realistic, my odds of acceptance aren’t that good anyway.)
Authonomy required that I make separated chapter files to upload to their site. Which would have been fine if they would accept anything like HTM files. All of my recent books have separate HTM files for the pre-upload stage to my site. But no, they wanted a DOC file only. What a pain in the ass. No seriously, sitting for a few hours to make a new set of files for them made my ass sore. (>_<*)
After I went to all the trouble to upload Blood Relations, here’s what happened. People added me to their shelves, and then dropped me because I didn’t back their books in return on the same day. People added me to their watchlists, but then dropped me the next day. Without me spending all day long humping the site to garner votes, I will never be able to get to the top of the pile.
Sure, I’ll read the books of the other writers, but I’ll do that in my own time, when I feel like it. The way Authonomy “works” is that people glad-hand and pat each other on the back. That’s why Authonomy is doing something right with the next step of the editor’s desk, and I will give them credit where its due. If a book makes it to the editor and is rejected, it can’t be gamed up again. Good move, Harper Collins. I totally agree that this is a cool idea.
But I don’t want to be a part of the site. The bookshelf system isn’t nearly as interesting now that I’ve had time to see it in action, and I’d rather spend my time working on stories to submit to editors directly. I’ve got a few that I’ve almost polished enough to send them out again, and instead of trying to appeal to a system of writers to look at my work, I can just send it into the queue of an editor directly.
The other thing is, what I’m submitting at Authonomy is a free story. I want people to come back to my site and read my other free stories, and Authonomy is geared more toward keeping people on their site. Which is cool, and I can see why they want that. But I prefer spending time working on my sites, so that I can keep people coming back to them.
I’ve already removed Blood Relations from the site, but according to the FAQ, deleting my account may take as much as 28 days. I will not be going back to check message or read other books, but I wish all the other writers the best of luck in making it out of the slush shelves and onto the editor’s desk.