Good news in a way - but I sometimes feel because I don't know anyone in the industry my efforts are unlikely to get any further... and there are so many poor books on the shelves in Waterstones. We should try to set up our on co-operative publishing company! There are great books and crap books both in bookshops and on Authonomy. The only difference - and sorry if this is an obvious thing to say - is that those in the bookshops are by published authors. What I'm saying is that writing a 'great' book is just the beginning of the process. To get as far as Waterstone's, a writer needs to do a lot more than write the book. I'm with a small publisher, and the amount of promotion/schmoozing of booksellers I have to do alongside the efforts of the publishers takes up a hell of a lot of time.
I think one thing that doesn't help some of the writers on Authonomy is that they're obviously not writing when they're spending a lot of time on forums on threads that are nothing to do with writing. (I was about to name some of them, but don't want this to be about what individuals do - after all, people are free to spend their time as they want to, and shouldn't have to justify or defend it.)
Another drawback, to me, is that on Authonomy members spend a lot of time reading, to be polite, books that, in many cases, are never going to be the best of their kind - it is a slush pile, after all. The fact that many members don't even read books the whole way through, just enough to give the hint of a critique in the hope of prompting the same thing, is NOT what reading is about. To me, reading should be about enjoyment first of all, but, importantly, writers learn how to write mainly by reading, and they learn story development, etc, by reading books in their entirety - and that is something that no number of 'how to' books can replace.
I see books posted on here whose authors say they're ready to submit - and yet they have no idea about grammar, punctuation, structure, how to set out dialogue, etc - all things that can be learned over time by reading. I think some of the writers on here are, to be honest, only writing to jump on some kind of bandwagon and make a quick-ish buck (especially the fantasy trend stuff here, which has all now peaked in whatever the real world is) and that's never a good reason for writing - any other profession, maybe - and will never produce good writing. That's not to say some opportunistic agent or publisher won't take it on, of course.
I think it's the same with critiques, and, of course, if you're on one of the 'read swop' threads where you get genuine critiques that's fine, but the ultimate critique is the one you're going to get when you send it to an agent or publisher, who won't have got to like your personality on forums, etc.
I don't think it's accurate to say that agents and publishers 'don't want us' - it's not that gloomy; most of what gets sent to them on spec doesn't make the grade, whether it's from Authonomy writers or not.
Posted: 02/05/2012 12:16:16