Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Remembering the Art

Okay, I think I'm ready to talk about my Authonomy experience now. I decided to wait a week or so to get some distance and perspective on the journey. When I first looked into Authonomy, it wasn't something I thought would have such an impact. Because of this, I don't really remember how it came about that I found and signed up to the site.

Let me just start with the basics.
Authonomy: a public slush pile for Harper Collins publishing company.

The premise: a way for authors to beat the slush and rise to the top 5 for a review by a Harper Collins editor.

Cool points: One, reading tons of books. Two, global opinion/acceptance of book by actual readers.

So, I signed up and loaded my book. I decided to keep it up until I heard back from the other publishers I sent in that batch. Then I spotted the forum. Coming from a history of very positive forum experiences I was excited and immediately headed over to chat with other writers.

What I found was very...disheartening. Somehow, for many of the users, Authonomy slush pile became their primary writing site source. These people have been spending hours a day reading, backing, and promoting their same book for almost a year. Some, since 2008.

As part of the transparent nature of the slush pile, you get to see when people land publishing contracts with Harper, or contracts with other houses, or when people are picked up by agents. None of these people reached one of the top 5 positions. They were all picked up way before...during a regular slush pile time frame.

But to these people who have been on so long, the Top 5 has become some kind of Holy Grail. A place where everything will fall into place for their writing career. It was very heartbreaking to see the twisting of these artists and their art. And not only that, but the way they attacked each other. Instead of encouraging and promoting a community of writers, they slashed and broke the beauty of the art of writing.

It was a very different look at the industry and one that I must say put a halt on my creativity. Every time I've looked at my outlines or brainstorming ideas since the beginning of April, I felt disconnected. I needed to reset and reestablish my sense of art when it comes to writing.

It was a relief when the last day came and on a final cleansing breath today, and with the outpouring of my thoughts here, I think I see the beauty and joy of writing again.

Part of this revelation is a slowing of my ambition, which Authonomy has shown me can darken the joy of writing. There's no point in forcing my creativity if the end result is embittered success. I have decided ambition will have to take a back seat to joy and harmony.

Good writing all! (And always remember the happiness writing brings you.)


  1. Nice post. I haven't spent that much time on the site (I already have too much terrible stuff to read - my own. Ha), but you've got a good insight into this industry - lots of dreams, lots of competition, lots of disappointment, and, occasionally, lots of talent.

    I'm glad you're back where you belong.

  2. Good post - I had similar reasons for walking away from Autho. The primary reason is just that I stopped caring. I had a hard time writing, the forums made me crazy and I didn't want to hear anything about writing.

    The forums there just made me miss CC.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it as well!