Authonomy is a website owned and operated by HarperCollins,[1] designed with a commercial aim: to unearth new talent. HarperCollins places the name in italics and spells it with an initial lower-case letter.[2] Authonomy solicits submissions from unpublished and self-published authors to, in their words, "[..] post their manuscripts for visitors to read online. Authors create their own personal page on the site to host their project - and must make at least 10,000 words available for the public to read." The site went live 3 September 2008 after a beta launch in May 2008, growing to over 24,000 registered members by its live date.[3] [4]

While a number of published writers have emerged from their work having been marketed on the site, there is suspicion both within and outside the community that the agenda for HarperCollins in establishing Authonomy is to service print on demand. Conversely, it could be argued that many think that the future of publishing lies exactly in this area.[5]

Titles which have emerged from Authonomy include Miranda Dickinson's Fairytale of New York, which reached number 9 in the Sunday Times bestseller lists, Steve Dunne's The Reaper and Never Say Die, co-authored by Melanie Davis and Lynne Barrett-Lee. A number of agents and publishers have been circling Authonomy and HarperCollins claim that 20 more books have been picked up by other publishers and agents.[3][6] On the other hand, another title that appeared on the site (David Kessler's Mercy) did not progress through the site's reader ratings but was subsequently picked up by the Avon division of HarperCollins UK after it was sent to them by an agent with no connection to Authonomy.[7]

Critics of Authonomy have labelled it as a "do-it-yourself slush pile" and argued that the recommendation mechanisms for a book making it to the top of this pile for editorial appraisal are problematic.[8]

In January 2012, Authonomy launched a digital imprint, run by Scott Pack.[9] The imprint will publish titles picked by Pack and Authonomy's Editorial Board from the website's many posted manuscripts.[10] Titles published by this imprint include The Qualities of Wood (Mystery, 2012), by Mary Vensel White and Erasmus Hobart and the Golden Arrow by Andrew Fish (Humor, 2012).


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