Friday, 23 January 2009

Authonomy Signing Update

Two days ago, I blogged about the three Authonomy authors who have been signed to HarperCollins. One of the books signed was represented by Andrew Lownie (for whom I have a very soft spot--he's a wonderful agent) and I wrote,'s probable that they were picked up following Lownie's submission of their book to HarperCollins, rather than through the Authonomy site.

The ever-vigilant Sally Zigmond has this morning spotted this comment from the man himself over on Galleycat:
My agency submitted Never Say Die by Melanie Davies and ghosted by Lynne Barrett-Lee in the normal way. The fact the authors had put it on Authonomy may have helped in Collins's decision but the editor was only aware of the script being on Authonomy after the submission. Andrew Lownie
God, I'm good.

(Now, if Sally could just find out for me if the authors of the other two books are represented, I'd be very grateful indeed.)

ETA: Here's a news story which explains how HarperCollins made its offer for the book in December, nearly a month before Authonomy announced the sale.


Karen said...

Hmmm, just shows doesn't it? Much better going the 'normal' route.'

Jane Smith said...

It also shows that if you're going to say something you'd better have that Zigmond woman on your side...!

But yes, the normal route is as well-established as it is because it works, despite what some people might insist.

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid I was always with the cynics on this one, so some gratification but also sadness for those who are being misled. Thanks, Jane for the reality check on MS display sites. Some of us have learned the hard way that while they offer useful experience, publishing success is unlikely to figure.

Welshcake said...

This doesn't reflect well on Authonomy. What were they thinking?

Jane Smith said...

Welshcake, I don't think Authonomy has lied to anyone here. The notice that is up on Authonomy now reads,

"Finally, author Melanie Davies and published novelist Lynne Barrett-Lee put the workings of their book, Never Say Die, up on authonomy in the autumn. Since then it’s been a busy few months: the authors were taken on by agent Andrew Lownie (, who tells us he uses authonomy and its rankings regularly "to find new clients” and as “useful ammunition when pitching to publishers”."

Because of where the announcement was placed, and the way it was made, it's been widely assumed that they were picked up from the slush: but the announcement didn't say that they had, just that they were members of Authonomy and the book had been up there since the Autumn.

Having said all of that, I do feel it would have been helpful if the announcement had been worded a little more clearly, and the implications of success-through-Authonomy avoided. The other two writers appear to have been plucked from Authonomy on their own merits (unless someone with superior Google-fu to mine can show otherwise), so that's good.

But Ali, you're right. There are probably better ways to get published than through Authonomy, although it does appear to have worked for at least two writers now.

Shakespeare's Housekeeper said...

Hello Jane,
thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog-
As you have visited, you are no doubt aware that my hubby's book is on Authonomy, and his agent is Andrew Lownie.
Certainly, the point of view from this writer's wife is that Authonomy has done the world of good for my hubbys'moral-the comments he has received on his writing have been nearly a 100% positive, although we are both aware that some of them are likely to be in the hope the commenters get a good review in return.
More worrying is that he now spends more time talking on there than talking to me!
SH x

Jane Smith said...

SH, I didn't realise that your husband was represented by Andrew Lownie, but I have to say that he's got a cracking agent there who will look after him very well.

I'm sure that Authonomy works well for some: I like a lot of the interraction that I've seen there, and if the criticisms that your husband has received there have helped him improve his work and his morale, then that can only be good. But I'm still doubtful that many people are going to get published as a direct result of participating there: the usual route of agented submissions is still the best (as your husband, and his agent, would no doubt agree!).

Shakespeare's Housekeeper said...

You're absolutely right Jane. Agented submissions are still the main way forward.

Jane Smith said...

SH: you will let me know how your husband gets on with his book, won't you? Tell me when it sells and I'll post about it here. Wish him the best of luck with it; and you too: support staff are essential for writers!


Shakespeare's Housekeeper said...

Thank-you, i most certainly will pass on your best to him, and i will let you know what's happening with 'Commanding Youth.'
Us support staff...we do our best!
SH x

Anonymous said...

Hi. I'm Lynne Barrett-Lee (Hi Sally!) and I thought I'd come in here to clarify things. Yes, I found Andrew Lownie in the usual way - through research into who'd be the best person to represent such a book (which he clearly is!), and it's also true that we put Never Say Die up on Authonomy independently of that. It simply seemed like a good and innovative idea, and worth a try; we had nothing to lose, after all. It was a marvellous experience; we got some fantastic feedback, which was a great confidence booster, and there was, and is, a real feeling of camaraderie on the site. Yes, the novel was sold in the time honoured fashion, through an agent, but the feedback from Authonomy did play a part in HCs decision to publish - they could instantly see it had reader appeal. As a result, I would still recommend them as one of several potential routes into print. The important thing is to be realistic about just how difficult it is to get published, even with work that is perfectly publishable. As is clear from the sheer volume of books on Authonomy, there are vastly more authors than there are publishing slots, and, as everyone knows, just getting an agent in the first place is incredibly hard. I don't think Authonomy are setting out to mislead anyone - they do what they say they do, which is to put manuscripts in front of editors, exactly as do agents. The only difference - and I think this is a big plus - is that they get there following the recommendations of many, rather than just one person. Doesn't shorten the (long, long) odds much, I know, but at least it's another way in. I certainly wouldn't say it's worse than the 'normal' route - it's just another version of it i.e. loads of manuscripts get whittled down to a very tiny number of manuscripts, which the publisher then sees. 'Twas ever thus! I wish you all well in your own endeavours, and also - ahem! - hope you'll buy the book. I know I'm not supposed to say it, but it IS a good one!!

Jane Smith said...

Lynne, it's nice of you to drop by.

I've just read a post by the author of one of the other three books mentioned in Authonomy's announcement, over on Authonomy's blog, in which she makes it clear that she has no representation: so it does sound as though you were the only one of the three to take this route.

Congratulations on getting your deal (and on getting Mr Lownie to represent you--you made an excellent choice there). I hear it's all moving very fast for you: publication is planned for the summer, I believe, and I'm looking forward to reading it then.

Meanwhile, thanks for dropping by to explain everything: it's much appreciated, and I hope you'll be back.