A few years ago now, I think when I was twenty, Harper Collins launched an site for new and unpublished authors to post up their novels for review by the other writers in the community and, if they were popular, by Harper Collins editors. I joined the site in its infancy with what I'm calling "my crap first attempt", and it was received by the community just as it deserved. However, I enjoyed my time there (until I became too embarrassed of my terrible work and removed it), since I got lots of hints, tips, critiques and advice on where I was going wrong.
With this in mind, once all of Guin was up on the blogsite, I decided to bite the bullet again, and put it somewhere people might actually want to read it. Authonomy is touted as a community of book lovers, and so I opened a new account and set forth.
Authonomy is bigger now than it used to be. When I joined this time round I was ranked number 15,000 and something, while my book was ranked at about 8000. I couldn't believe it when I got my first comment within half an hour, and before I'd been on the site five hours I had as many comments, all of them good, and all of them supportive.
Before I'd been on the site 24 hours, I hated it. I realised all the comments I'd received referred to information which could have been gleaned from reading my 200 word pitch, and I got a stupid amount of personal messages (some from the same users several times), offering me swaps; occasionally, "I'll read yours if you read mine" and more often than not, "I've backed yours, will you back mine?" followed by "Have you backed mine yet? I backed yours ages ago." and various other pleas for support.
You see, the most popular 5 books on Authonomy after a certain period go on to be read by editors. This is a nice idea, except the premise has led to the dumbing down of an academic endeavor and turned it into a popularity contest. In my humble opinion, the top 5 will have been read by only a tiny percentage of those who have backed them. Every book is littered with generic and non-specific comments like "you have such a nice writing style" and "a good read, WILL YOU READ MINE???"
Rather than being an avante garde site with limitless potential, Authonomy has dwindled into a game, with the most forceful and those with the most time on their hands *supposedly* having the best work.
After 48 hours of membership, I decided against Authonomy. I considered playing the game but really, where's the merit in it? Perhaps I'm being too proud, but I refuse to use something which I worked so hard on and am proud of as a pawn in a game. I could copy and paste *white fluffy cat* into a manuscript 10,000 times, write a vague pitch and I'd probably get just as many *your story is so well told* comments as I have now.
I want to think at least one or two of the comments I received were genuine, and where they seemed to be, I reciprocated by reading their book before judging and backing it. Perhaps there are sites out there which have achieved the ideal which Authonomy set out towards. I hope there are, and I won't waste any more of my time on this one.