As I mentioned the other day, I’ve been spending a fair bit of time over at the Authonomy website. For those of you who don’t already know, this is a writers’ social network site set up by HarperCollins. Effectively a peer-review, critiquing site it has the added attraction of making one’s work available to the editors of HarperCollins’s various imprints. As well as considering the top ranked work, they also use the tagging system etc to find titles lower down the ranking that might fit on their lists. Just how successful this will be, I can’t yet say, but if you don’t try you’ll never know, right?
So far, I’ve only uploaded the complete manuscript of Children of the Resolution to the site (saving my other work for a later date) but the first couple of comments I’ve had have been… well, to be honest (and utterly immodest), as good as I would have expected. The feedback I’ve had elsewhere, and my own gut instinct, suggests it’s a pretty good read — but it’s always good to have confirmation of that, especially on a website where it might be “seen”.
Another attractive feature to the website is the Authonomy blog which features, amongst other things, blogs by editors at HarperCollins. Whilst reading through this blog, I came across this article entitled What We Want — written by “Rob”, an editor on “HarperFiction’s hugely successful mass market list”.
I don’t know how many times I’ve said to myself and those close to me, upon receiving the latest rejection, “What the fuck do these people want?” Over the years I’ve written in just about every genre imaginable. Horror. Crime. Family saga. Literary. Fantasy. The list goes on. I start, and by the time I’m finished, it promptly goes out of fashion! (That’s a slight exaggeration, but you know what I mean.) Trying to second-guess the market is, by and large, impossible. So this piece struck me as actually rather useful.
This comment in particular made me feel a whole lot better, given some of the blog posts I’ve written recently:
“‘Celebrity’ literature is losing sales and perhaps people are looking for something with more depth, some real meaning now that the spendthrift culture of before looks increasingly foolish. Novels of inspiration, of triumph, novels that celebrate and examine life.”
This really does lift a writer’s spirits. The knowledge that there are editors out there who are looking for the new Martin Amis or Irvine Welsh, rather than the next Katie Price or Jade Goody, makes writing that little bit easier. It also helps that publishers are finally taking a rather more proactive approach to finding new talent. Whether it works or not, time will tell.
But at least they’re trying. Hats off to them for that.
© 2008 Gary William Murning