The Empty Page Blog

Jan 19

Written by: Lisette Ogg
19/01/2009 9:57 AM 

For those who’ve not discovered it yet, Authonomy, is HarperCollins UK’s social networking experiment for authors. However, questions are being raised as to the expectations of the site, which may mark a forthcoming trend for Queensland writers.

Over at Electric Alphabet, Kate blogged around the issues surrounding HarperCollins’ Authonomy site.

For those who’ve not discovered it yet, Authonomy is HarperCollins UK’s social networking experiment for authors. Authors can upload all or part of their manuscripts to an online community. The best ranked submissions, based on the community’s votes, are read by HarperCollins editors. Members also have  chance to converse and swap critical feedback.

The issue is one of expectation. Budding authors have joined the site, with the intenetion to network and achieve a ranking... of which HC editors would read the Top 5 ranked manuscripts, thus using Authonomy to seek fresh literary talent.

What has emerged however, is that HC is offering top ranking members the opportunity to sell their work to the community via print on demand.

Electric Alphabet muses:

If it’s true HarperCollins will now be offering members the opportunity to sell their work to the community via print on demand (presumably for a fee, or by ceding some rights and sales revenue), members would be justified in feeling their expectations have been betrayed.

From the outside, it's difficult to judge whether or not these proceedings are accurate. But what is interesting, is that Electric Alphabet received a response from HC in regards to the following:

At the heart of this anger and disquiet in the Authonomy membership is HarperCollins’ failure to understand online communities. Authonomy has all the trendy social networking bells and whistles. It’s got well-trafficked discussion boards and user-generated content. But social networking platforms at their most vibrant cede control to the community, they don’t (in fact can’t) hoard it for the platform developer. (Which is why Facebook is having trouble monetising itself) Authonomy users came to the site because of an expectation they were sold by HarperCollins. Having built up a successful community, those users don’t now wish to be told by HarperCollins to do or be something else especially when it’s transparently about making money for HarperCollins.

You can read HarperCollins response here.

The question is, what is the repurcussions for Queensland authors? Is this a trend that will continue in Australia?

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