A lot of sites lately have talked about the Penguin and Amazon Breakthrough Novel and Authonomy. While I can’t speak for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel—there’s a good discussion about it on Nathan Bransford’s blog—I can talk about Authonomy, as both Sherylyn and I have been on Authonomy since the start of the year.
This is how we did it, and what we hoped to get out of it.
There are two of us. We generally write together. We weren’t sure how two authors would go, so we decided that Sherylyn would ‘own’ the book. We were in it not so much to get a book published by Harper Collins (although that would be a nice bonus, of course), but to garner feedback from readers. In particular, we wanted to see whether a story like Potion would still work, or whether it was so old hat (elves, a journey) that no-one wanted to read it.
We both registered as Authonomy users. I registered as myself, Karen, while Sherylyn registered under our pen name, Rowan Dai. It was an easy decision. She had a lot more time over January and February to devote to it. Plus, she’s more outgoing and enjoys the forum chats. (The author name doesn’t have to be the same as the users, but that’s the way we planned it. Even so, if we did it again she would use Sherylyn.)
The book we put up was Potion, only on the forum we called it Not So Simple After All. Potion has always been a working title. We’re trying out Not So Simple, but we’re still not sure it’s the final title.
Sherylyn has spent considerable time on the forums and reading other people’s novels. She probably won’t be able to do it for much longer, but for the moment she has been doing a lot of work. It has been a really interesting marketing exercise. I recommend that everyone try it, just to see how much difference it makes by having a visible (and non-negative) presence makes.
One thing the commenters on Nathan Bransford’s blog said about the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award was that they met a lot of really nice people. Other writers like themselves. It’s the same with Authonomy. There are a lot of really nice people out there, and they all have the same interest as you. They’re all writing novels. How good is that?
The feedback we have got to date on Potion (Not So Simple After All) has been fantastic. We have learned so much about where the problems are in the first few chapters. People have said the same sorts of things—in general—too many characters, certain spots are confusing, and so on. Not only have people said what doesn’t work for them, they have also offered suggestions as to how we might fix the problems.
In fact, it’s been so good we’re going to put Barrain up too. Just to see how we can improve it.