My good friend and literary companion, (as in person, not book) is well impressed by the Authonomy website, and I have to add that judging by the feedback she's received I can understand why.
"So why don't you send your MS in, Cowardy, Cowardy Custard?" I hear you ponder aloud.
Well, firstly, though Harper Collins is a perfectly respectable firm with a good reputation, (there's nothing bad about them on Predators and Editors, which is always a good sign), I don't actually like literary forums.
I really have had too many bad experiences at the hands of well meaning but ultimately clueless gurus of the written word who have dished out bad information to me from day one. I spent a whole eighteen months looking for an agent on the basis of what one All-Seeing Eye of a forum expert told me… grrrrr.
Do I sound bitter? Well I suppose I am, in a way. Whatever, Authonomy…
Let me explain briefly how it works. You send in your manuscript to be read by other people. If enough readers like it, then it goes to the Editors desk to be viewed as a possible candidate for publication. Along the way other people slot in their input, ideas, criticisms and praise, which gives you a good idea about what other, completely independent booklovers think about your work. Sounds good, doesn't it?
And for a lot of people it is.
So why not for me?
Well, firstly the majority, (not all but the majority) of the individuals who send their work in to any of these websites are at my level; i.e. nowhere.
So what makes them smarter than the people who have already read through my manuscript? Not much in my eyes. The people who have studied my work were BRUTALLY honest because I instructed them to be so. My words were, "prove to me that it's pants" and they did… the B######ds, I hate them all.
However, they were also interested in the time period it's set in and have a passing interest in horror. This naturally makes them a perfect feedback source as they would be my prospective target audience… if I were ever to be published.
Nevertheless, I hear you say, on Authonomy they're an INDEPENDENT source of comparison to other work in the genre.
Mmmm, yes but I don't even trust that point of view, (yes, that's how cynical and unforgiving I've become, lol).
Each and every reader on Authonomy is looking to make friends with the other writers. Friends = support and support is what brings you to the editor's desk. Nobody makes friends by giving a nasty critique because the way the world works is that they'll just give you one right back. So you don't give a nasty critique, you smile and say, "Great stuff" and blah blah blah.
The unspoken rule of you-scrub-mine-and-I'll-scrub-yours type of situation; which is cosy and could lead to that Nirvana-esque goal of publication, but probably won't.
Oh boy, I sound bitter AND twisted on this one, don't I?
I'm not really.
There are obviously good, honest people on every forum who have talent and integrity. I just met the wrong kind when I started out and it has somewhat coloured my view of the whole "scene".
Also, if I send it off to be read by strangers and the publishers do catch a flying pig and get back to me, would the fact that my MS is already in the public domain affect the situation?
I don't know and I don't think I'm going to tempt fate and find out, to be honest.
So now you know peeps.
F.Y..I., I sent the first 10,000 words of my initial draft off to "YouWriteOn" a couple of years ago. It has significantly altered since then but I received two reviews and I think it's only right to tell you of them.
The first was really nice but I had the distinct impression he or she hadn't read the passage and had cheated on the quiz afterwards. It was all very general, with no specific examples to elaborate on the praise that was so forthcoming.
The second review was the best. The assessor complained that I shouldn't start a story with a vampire and an SS officer as that would alienate the reader and they'd lose interest in the story. Oookaaaaay…
I, in return wrote three critiques and they were all, in my humble opinion, brilliant pieces of prose that should rightly be elaborating the libraries of all the major centres of learning in Europe, and not wallowing on some internet book bin…
I'm such a fake.