If you haven't yet seen the "Authonomy" site, try it! It's run on behalf of a major publisher looking for good material, and it's easy to upload your work - and to read other people's and to comment on it if you wish. I've just uploaded the so-far-completed 40,000 words of my WIP, a political satire with the working title "Overlooked", on which I'm hoping for comments. I'm an old, computer-illiterate technophobe... but uploading the whole thing took me about ten minutes.

The site is STRONGLY recommended. (Whether my novel-in-progress is to be recommended is a judgment I'll leave to others!)


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Comment by Mark P. Henderson on May 21, 2009 at 6:44pm
Those are impressive results, Eric. But it still leaves me to ask "How many books that finish in the top five per month enjoy success comparable to those two examples?" I'm not trying to be negative - good luck to the successful authors! - but realistic. I'm not going to allow myself to be too hopeful on the basis of the evidence you present (though having had a couple of publications already might help me). But that won't stop me persisting with YWO; as I said, I like the site.
Comment by Eric Christopherson on May 21, 2009 at 12:45pm
In one of the two cases I mentioned, Mark, the Caligula author, by finishing in the top five for the month, won a review from an editor at a major publishing house, and that editor asked to see the novel when it was finished, and the house ultimately bought it. In the other case, YWO's publishing of the book was very successful, and according to the Penguin editor who purchased the book, the book's performance was part of the reason it was purchased.
Comment by Mark P. Henderson on May 20, 2009 at 7:09pm
Thanks for that information, Eric. I don't think I'm going to pass on any assignments. Like you, I enjoy getting a perspective on "how far I've come" since I took up fiction writing (instead of opting for retirement like a sensible chap); and in so far as I've learned anything, I want others to benefit from it. Also, reading genres I wouldn't normally touch can only broaden my horizons. And of course I agree about the inherent fairness of the random assignment system.

The success stories are encouraging, but I wonder if they have any "statistical significance". Was YWO success really a prerequisite for market success in the cases you mention, and how typical are they? Perhaps the answer to your recent inquiry will tell us.
Comment by Eric Christopherson on May 20, 2009 at 10:11am
I should mention you can only pass on reviews three times all told. More than that would defeat the random assignment ideal. The passing does take a lot of the pain out of the process though.
Comment by Eric Christopherson on May 20, 2009 at 10:09am
Mark: You do know you can pass on reviewing particular pieces at YWO? You can pass once every 24 hours as I recall. When you pass you get a new assignment. If I want to, I could do all my reviewing in the mystery/suspense genre. That's how flexible the system is. The truth is I've found that now and then I enjoy dipping into genres I don't normally read, and I even enjoy reading very amateruish stuff from time to time because the process of doing so reminds me of what I've learned and helps me to articulate it.

B.R., I'm in agreement the site could be better done, but it doesn't take long to navigate with ease.

The key to the site's fairness is in fact the random assignment. As to successes, there is a Scottish writer who got a six figure (in pounds, not dollars) deal for an historical adventure novel, and one of the book of the year award winners whom YWO published got a deal with a major publisher as a result. YWO has been around for three years, I believe, and I just put up a question on the board asking for any other success stories, because I'm curious. Will let you know the results.

FYI, I recently got a new literary agent (though we went separate ways after just 7 weeks, but that's another story) in part by using a query letter with a nice quote in it taken from a lengthy review of my work (done by a British author and literary critic), having won the review in YWO's contest.
Comment by B.R.Stateham on May 19, 2009 at 11:50pm
Well, Mark. . . like I said, I'm in YouWriteOn. And yes, the more times you get into it the easier it becomes to manuver.
Comment by Mark P. Henderson on May 19, 2009 at 7:23pm
Agreed entirely about digging through coal to reach diamonds. The difference (which I rather like) is that you can simply ignore the coal on "Authonomy" and comment only on the diamonds - and on the lesser gems, of course - whereas with "YouWriteOn" you have to evaluate the rubbish too. It goes against the grain to tell an author "You haven't got this right because...", but it's good to do it (a) for the author and (b) for one's own writing. (Whenever I criticize someone else I always check for the beam in my own eye!). I don't agree about the difficulty of getting around the site, though; initially, yes - but I found it straightforward once I'd tried it a couple of times. As for how many writers have been found and signed... Well, who knows? I suppose that's not such a problem for me because I'm "in" with a publisher already, but I value honest critical feedback, which makes YouWriteOn worthwhile from my point of view. (I sob very quietly and hardly drum my heels on the ground at all.)
Comment by B.R.Stateham on May 19, 2009 at 11:29am
Let me be the polite wet-blanket and say I'm not too impressed with YouWriteOn. First off, I think it's a clunky site. It's hard to get around in it--hard to understand what they want. Secondly, I'm not too happy at the idea I have to read and grade someone else's writing as a prerequisite to earn 'credits' so others can read my writing. Thirdly, what makes Authonomy a better choice is point Number Two above--except in Authonomy I have a choice of who and what I read. Fourthly, I wonder just how many writers were 'found and signed' in YouWriteOn compared to Authonomy.

I'm acutally not trying to start a debate here. But I think the quality of writing in Authonomy is like the quality of writing anywhere else--you have to go through the coal bins in order to find the diamonds.
Comment by Mark P. Henderson on May 19, 2009 at 9:36am
Eric - Following your advice I've uploaded some material on YouWriteOn and I agree with you. The formal assessment system they use wouldn't be to everyone's taste (and to be honest, some of the material you're asked to assess is mediocre at best), but I like it. I've not yet received any feedback so I can't say yea or nay to your opinion of that, but I do see that it's a "fairer contest" than Authonomy. Nevertheless I enjoy Authonomy. I agree that writing talent isn't a determinant of ranking there, but I've networked with some lovely people - and there are one or two really fine books on the site (just not highly ranked!).
Comment by Mark P. Henderson on May 14, 2009 at 9:23am
Thanks, Eric. I'm not especially interested in the contest aspect of Authonomy - but it's good to read what other people are writing and exchange comments. On your recommendation, I'll take a look at YouWriteOn.

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