Imagine for a moment that you’re a publishing house. You’ve been putting book deals together for decades the old-fashioned way. You have agents you know and trust doing the heavy sifting for you, plowing through countless query letters from eager new authors. You have in-house editors working with a stable of developing and established authors, packaging titles for developing and established niches, and leveraging copyrighted content across developing and established mediums. You know, down to the last penny, what it costs to print a page, change a typo, or put a book on a shelf in any bookstore in the world.
And then the internet comes to town.
What do you do? Well, after a good bit of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, you would probably come up with something very much like Authonomy. (If you haven’t seen the site before, click over and take a look. You’ll ‘get it’ in about five seconds.) You might not do it as well as HarperCollins has done it, but you’d recognize the obviousness of the solution, and you would seize the opportunity.
By establishing an online community under the auspices of HarperCollins, and by promising members of that community a chance to get their work in front of editors at HarperCollins, Authonomy solves two persistent publishing problems in one fell swoop. First, it offloads part of the arduous and rarely-rewarding process of sifting through submissions — which is currently undertaken by agents around the world — onto an even less-demanding community. Second, it gives HarperCollins the appearance of being forward-looking, tech-savvy and internet-aware, when in fact they are simply replacing one system of mining writers with another system of mining writers. [ Read more ]