HarperCollins Shuts Down Writing Community Authonomy
One of the earliest (publisher-sponsored) author communities will be closing at the end of the month.
HarperCollins has announced on the Authonomy blog on Wednesday that "Unfortunately in recent years publishing of titles from the site has slowed as we have opened other submissions channels, and the community has become smaller, so the decision to close Authonomy has been made."
like BookCountry and many other writing communities, Authonomy worked by letting authors submit their manuscripts. The works were publicly critiqued and raked by other users, with some of the better works optioned by HarperCollins. The Bookseller notes that Miranda Dickinson, Steven Dunne, and Kat French had been recruited through the site.
A grand total of 47 HarperCollins titles had been sourced through Authonomy since it launched in 2008. An unknown (but almost certainly larger) number went on to be independently published by the authors.
In comparison, Amazon’s Kindle Scout program has optioned 74 titles in less than ten months. (While Kindle Scout has a very different design and also works differently from Authonomy, the latter’s website suggests that they had a similar purpose.)
What with the multitude of online writing communities, it’s to be expected that some would close, but the biggest reason for Authonomy’s decline is that it launched in a different era. In 2008 an author’s best chance for getting published was to sign with a major publisher, but that stopped being true from about 2011.
The promise that "every month, five Authonomy manuscripts are selected to be reviewed by HC editors for possible publication" just isn’t as attractive to authors as it used to be, not when they can publish on their own, make money today, and maybe get an offer tomorrow.
image by streetwrk.com
Ben Sobieck August 19, 2015 um 10:38 am
Speaking of Kindle Scout, can we say whether that was a success or not? I didn’t make the cut when I submitted after it first launched, but I always thought the model was worth a shot. Amazon didn’t seem to put much PR support behind it beyond the launch.
Nate Hoffelder August 19, 2015 um 11:07 am
I don’t know. It works, so i guess it is at least a moderate success.
Bridget McKenna August 19, 2015 um 11:01 am
This snippet intrigues me: "…publishing of titles from the site has slowed as we have opened other submissions channels…"
We know HC owns an Author Solutions-powered vanity scam, Westbow, Publishing, which has been associated with their christian publishing arm, Thomas Nelson. Does anyone know if their "other submissions channels" might be of that highly lucrative variety?
Nate Hoffelder August 19, 2015 um 3:10 pm
I thought that was just a fig leaf explanation, but The Bookseller did note that HC had a digital-only imprint.
Mark Williams August 20, 2015 um 4:13 am
The number of indie authors who started out on Authonomy and rival site YouWriteOn and went on to moderate (and occasionally spectacular) success on their own must be in the many hundreds, if not thousands.
The appeal of these sites was not so much the vague promise of a big publishing deal as simply to get feedback from fellow authors and hone skills.
It wasn’t always fun. The value of groups like these diminished as more and more authors learned how to game the system, and as indie publishing took off Authonomy descended into a bloodbath as forward-looking authors pointed to the digital possibilities and the old guard decried self-publishing as a fad.
But judging from Facebook commentary most participants look back fondly on Authonomy.
Nate Hoffelder August 20, 2015 um 8:58 am
What’s the community like over at Book Country?
Jeanne-Marie August 20, 2015 um 8:01 am
Has anyone used www.penfactor.com ?
It looks similar in that writers receive reviews in return for reviewing three others. They have an algorithm that analyses the review data to find the genuinely good writers.
Answered: What's the most cost-effective way to market my book, product or service? – Go Ask AngieGo Ask Angie September 8, 2015 um 6:43 pm
[…] HarperCollins Shuts Down Writing Community Authonomy […]
Floxy November 5, 2017 um 10:05 am
Authonomy was flawed from the beginning by failing to use a good platform for its website. Many of the books they selectively published were ones that editors already had in hand at HC. They would put them on the site and take them up for publishing shortly after, then brag about how well the site worked…. They allowed trollish communications between users, bullying and threats, even, at times. The last editor got some money for a rewrite of the site, then screwed it up by using some sort of bot to register 10’s of thousands of new accounts, allowing him to control voting for books any way he wanted. Management obviously was told about his scheme and gave him the boot while closing the site. HC didn’t need Authonomy — it served no purpose other than publicity for them.