Thriller/crime author and fellow Authonomy.com member Declan Conner talked to me about his experiences in publishing and his thoughts on the writing site's closure:
In 2008 I found myself with time on my hands and decided to fulfill a dream of writing a book that had been simmering in my head for many years. Like many new to writing, I didn’t have a clue what to do with the MS, other than I knew I would need to find a literary agent when it was finished. What I found was that writing was a lonely pastime. There wasn’t anyone to turn to for advice that I knew of in my circle of friends. Twelve months later and I had a completed manuscript of 100,000 words. There was no way I could determine if I had a viable commercial story, pretty much the same as other first time authors. I did what many do and joined the ranks of the literary slush pile merry-go-round. It is only now when I look back that I see how high the bar is set and why so many fail at the slush pile stage, in many instances just by not knowing the basics.
Many submissions later, with nothing more than form rejection letters, I was none the wiser as to why it was not getting past the first base. I decided to invest in my work and I put it to an editor. Fortunately for me they were not in it for the money. Five chapters in, they pointed out the errors of my way as well as my strengths and pointed me in the direction of a new writers’ site called authonomy. Long and short is, I ditched the MS and started again, uploading my work in progress for a new project to authonomy. That was in 2009.
In the early days, for me as well as many others on the site, it was all about the competition to get to the editors desk. Sure enough, with persistence I got there. Along the way I received a lot of good advice, but also a lot of poor advice. It also stopped me from concentrating on writing a next book. I am however thankful I got to the desk. The editor’s review was something of an anti-climax and not worth the effort it took to get to the ED. The reason I was thankful was to realize the futility of the game. It wasn’t just the stress of the game to get to the ED. Once there and the month end passed with the ED in the bag, it was like falling into an abyss and the loneliness took over again. That led to some serious soul searching. Once the illusion of publication by Harper Collins was out of the way, then that’s where the usefulness of the site kicked in.
I have learned so much from authonomy over those 6 years in every aspect of the publishing industry and genre crafting and writing. I’ve also met many other authors whom I learned to trust to give solid advice. I don’t usually submit to agents, having made the decision to self-publish. I am one of those who will never forget the “not knowing” so I stuck around on the site not just for feedback on new works, but to give advice and for those who wanted to take the self-publishing route. I even set up declanconner.com which is dedicated to those who wished to self-publish, with free guides on formatting.
As for the writing, I’ve self-published a decent catalogue of thrillers. I’ve also had some of my shorts translated both into German and Portuguese. There have been some successes along the way and some disappointments, but more than anything, logging into authonomy every day was a great motivator to keep going. I for one will be sorry to see it go, not as much for me, but for those new to the craft. I’m just thankful for the apprenticeship. I’m also thankful that other writers’ sites have developed along the way for new authors. I’m also grateful that there is now a wealth of information on the Internet that wasn’t there when I first started, both for those who wish to self-publish, or who wish to follow the traditional route.
No doubt I will find another site and meet up with many old faces and avatars, but for now I am preparing two full-length books that did the rounds on authonomy. One was uploaded on the site as Night Girl. That one is with an editor now and is due for publishing in September 2015 with the new title of, In Search of Jessica. The other was uploaded as Chimera Dawn, now titled, The Killers Among Us and due for publication January 2016.