Monday, 1 September 2014

Book Uploads - An Update

We have some good news for those who have been struggling to upload or update their manuscript. We believe that the system we use to upload documents to Authonomy is now fixed. Hooray! 

If your book has been stuck in epub preparation, please try reuploading it now. Please note that it can still take 5-10 minutes for very large documents to convert, so don't worry if it doesn't appear right away. Anyone still having trouble uploading should get in touch with us via email at authonomy@harpercollins.co.uk. The conversion service is provided by an external company. They have assured us that you should now be able to upload in any of the recommended formats, so please do report any issues you have.

Again, many apologies for this frustrating inconvenience. Your patience has been greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

FAQs on the New Site - Part Six

Every day this week we will be addressing some of the most common queries, concerns and complaints about the new site. These will be posted on the Authonomy blog and also as closed, temporarily sticky threads on the Troubleshooting forum.

Many of the questions and comments cropping up in the forum, and sometimes here on the blog, are things we have already addressed but this is inevitable. We hope you can find the answers you need on here or in the FAQs but if any keep getting repeated we will flag them up on here again.

Can the saved threads from the old forum be opened up again?

We are looking into this but if we do open them up it might take a while. We want to make sure the main site is stable before we consider unleashing the archives.

The online reader keeps cutting off the ends of sentences, or the ends of words.

This has been raised by some members but most don’t seem to have the problem. We suspect it may just be an issue with the zoom setting when you are reading but we are aware that some of you are having problems are and looking into it.

I can’t use MSWord while the online reader is open. I like to make notes on Word when reading and reviewing.

This appears to be an issue for some PC users when viewing the reader in full screen. We don’t know if this is something we can fix – just being honest! – but we have flagged it and will report back.

Where is my medal? Will I be getting a medal?

All books that were previously awarded Editor’s Desk medals, or that are due to receive an ED review, will get a medal on the new site but this is a manual process so bear with us. They’ll all be in place once the new Desk goes live.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

FAQs on the New Site - Part Five

Our FAQ blogs continue. Every day this week we will be addressing some of the most common queries, concerns and complaints about the new site. These will be posted on the Authonomy blog and also as closed, temporarily sticky threads on the Troubleshooting forum.



Why can’t we change/edit comments?

This is another of those instances when we’d have loved to have this functionality from the off, but budget constraints limited our options. It’s certainly something we plan to introduce in time

Why can’t you scroll up and down between the comment you are writing and the text you are replying to? It makes remembering what you are referring to difficult.

This is due to the nature of the reader as an overlaid box, but is certainly exactly the sort of stuff we want feedback on so we can develop and improve the platform.

Why are there “most useful” “most recent” “not useful” buttons on comments? Surely that allows the author to hide negative feedback.

These are actually selected by the viewer, not the author of a book. The most helpful comments are those with the most thumbs up, the author picks are the ones they themselves thumb up. Not useful doesn’t exist, but we have introduced the ability to thumb ‘down’, allowing members to drive down reviews and comments that are unhelpful or irrelevant.

The “Reply with Quote” option on the forum threads means that people can quote it, but edit it and therefore distort what it seems they originally said.

Again this is due to using a forum solution, as opposed to building a bespoke forum (more on that here). It’s a shame that authors would use this function in this way, but it is something we could look to change down the line if the feature is abused. Rest assured, flagging the misuse of this function as abusive will be picked up by our moderators who can take action against that user.

Why is there is no way of telling if a member is still active (no “Last Online” tracker)?

We knew this would be controversial, but we’ve removed the last-online detail on purpose. We don’t want a good book to go unread or unnoticed because the author hasn’t been online for a while. It’s natural that active authors, authors who read and review regularly, will naturally be more noticeable on Authonomy. And we are keen to reward and encourage this. However, we’re also keen to publish more books. If there’s a future-bestselling crime novel gathering dust on Authonomy, we want to read it! Even if that author hasn’t logged in for a few months.

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More to come tomorrow but do please leave a comment if you want something specific addressed. And if you have a troubleshooting question about your book or profile, please send us an 
email or take a look at the FAQs
 to see if we've answered it before. 

Friday, 22 August 2014

Upload Issues

We know that a few of you are experiencing problems uploading your manuscripts, with many getting stuck at the ‘your epub is being prepared’ stage. Obviously this is a pretty integral part of the site, and we’re working hard to get to the root of the problem.

While we don’t yet know exactly what is causing this, and do not yet have any hard and fast rules, we do now know a few things you can do to make your manuscript more upload-friendly:

  • Document type: Save you manuscript as a .docx rather than .doc - the latter isn’t compatible
  • Size: We’ve found that if your manuscript is in the region of 65,000-75,000 words or above, or 180 kb, may stall the uploader and will not create a Kindle file, only epub.
  • Using the template: Or a version of the template should guarantee a smooth upload. Follow the instruction laid out in the Help section, or follow this helpful step-by-step guide by Jimwork.



We’ll be updating you as soon as we know more but if you’ve been doing some experimenting yourself, it would be great to hear your feedback so please comment below.

FAQs on the New Site - Part Four

Every day this week we will be addressing some of the most common queries, concerns and complaints about the new site. These will be posted on the Authonomy blog and also as closed, temporarily sticky threads on the Troubleshooting forum.


What is happening to the books that were on or around the Editor’s Desk before the revamp? 

The Top 20 are all getting full Authonomy reviews and these are underway now. These obviously won’t all be completed on the same day but we will make them available to the authors individually when they are ready and hopefully they’ll want to share them on here for all to read.

The Editor’s Desk, although visible, will not be back in action until November. This is to give the new algorithms time to bed in and work effectively. They are based on different criteria to the old system and it will take a while for them to be totally effective, which is why we are reviewing the Top 20 in the coming weeks.

And just to make sure we cover every book that stood a chance of making the Desk during this time, Scott will put his publisher’s hat on and have a look at the books that were ranked 21 to 30 and leave comments on each book’s page.

What about the outstanding reviews from before then? 


We have explained before why some reviews can take quite a while to come (often the editors reviewing them get distracted by their day jobs etc). We are working on these as a priority, and hope to have all outstanding reviews sent out by the end of September, followed by the former top 20 titles before the chart is back up and running.

Why haven’t you answered my question yet?

Emailing us direct on authonomy@harpercollins.co.uk or messaging us on the site itself (particularly at the weekend) is by far the quickest and most effective way to get an answer to any question or query you may have.

Questions posted as comments to any of our blog posts are all on our list and we are tackling these in chunks on the blog. We don’t want these posts to be overly long so are answering a few at a time.

If you have posted a question/comment/open letter directed to us on the forums then, although we are monitoring these, we may not have actually seen it.

If you want a direct, individual answer then drop us an email. If you want a more public response then leave us a comment on the blog. We are trying to answer everything that comes our way.

Can we have Comedy back as a genre, please? 


Thanks for asking so nicely but we’re afraid not. Comedy is not a genre used in the publishing world so it is no longer on Authonomy. Feel free to tag your book as #comedy or #humour within its main genre as that will help to differentiate it. Tags are designed to help us drill down into specific markets, so are very appropriate in this case.  

Just as a reminder, our categories and genres now reflect pretty closely the ones available to publishers. Publishers and agents visiting the site can navigate to their areas of interest rather than having to work out which of our many genres relate to them (which they probably wouldn’t have bothered to do anyway).

More to come next week so do please leave a comment if you want something specific addressed.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

FAQs on the New Site - Part Three

Every day this week we will be addressing some of the most common queries, concerns and complaints about the new site. These will be posted on the Authonomy blog and also as closed, temporarily sticky threads on the Troubleshooting forum. Today we answer some more questions that have cropped up in the comments to previous blog posts and in the forum.

I want a reply button for messages on my home page.

Yes, so does Scott and he keeps bugging us about it.

In the final stages of development we had to make some tough decisions on features to drop or hold back to ensure we came in on budget (just about!) and this was one. As soon as we can we will put a reply button in and we will update you as to timing when we have news.

Why can’t I see who is backing or rating my books?

The honest answer is because we don’t want you to. In recent years Authonomy became more about reciprocal backing than genuine feedback on books and as a result the Editor’s Desk often contained titles that stood no chance of ever being published by HarperCollins. The best networkers or the members who enlisted the most backings saw their books rise to the top of the pile. We want the best books to rise to the top, the ones we are more likely to publish, and that is why we have made this change and we won’t reverse it.

You are now free to rate and/or back a book without the author knowing. This will, we hope, lead to more honest feedback and an Editor’s Desk with more integrity. If you want to tell someone you have backed their book then do feel free, there is nothing wrong with that and it is a nice thing to do. You just won’t be able to tell if they have backed yours in return without visiting their profile.

A couple of people have said they want to see who is backing and rating so that they can tell who is giving them one-star ratings, and that sort of illustrates our point. Such knowledge is unlikely to end happily. All members should be free to read and rate any book as they see fit without worrying about the author calling them out over it (not that all of them would but you probably get our point).

Hang on, people can copy and paste my work from the reader!

In the old Authonomy we had a feature that meant members couldn’t copy any of the text from a book on the site but with that came a rather clunky on-screen reading experience that meant navigating, and uploading, chapter by chapter, something that the HarperCollins editors hated and stopped many of them from using it.

The new reader is much more user-friendly and has got a big thumbs up from editors, as has the download function. It does not have the same copy restrictions but, to be honest, anyone who was really determined to copy a manuscript could have done so on the old site by disabling Javascript temporarily. We do not think that many, if any, members are going to spend their time copying books on here and we think the pros far outweigh the cons in this instance.


Scott has also pointed out that he likes to use examples from a book when reviewing it but hasn’t been able to do that in the past. Now he can copy a piece of good (or bad!) dialogue or description and go into more detail about why he feels strongly about it in his review or comments. 
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More to come tomorrow but do please leave a comment if you want something specific addressed.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

FAQs on the New Site - Part Two

Every day this week we will be addressing some of the most common queries, concerns and complaints about the new site. These will be posted on the Authonomy blog and also as closed, temporarily sticky threads on the Troubleshooting forum. Today we answer some questions that have cropped up in the comments to previous blog posts.

OK, I get that the site doesn’t fully work in Internet Explorer but what are you doing about it? Will new members and people visiting the site be told?

A fair point and we will find a way to highlight this, especially when it comes to the online reader. It may be that in the future developments in the IE browser will make it a compatible platform for the reader, but until then we will put something in place to flag this, and have this live as soon as possible.

Can we have the Watched Thread function back on the forums, please?

In short, no. Sorry.

The old forum was a built specifically for Authonomy. It was a clunky beast and needed updating so we replaced it with a new one which is widely used online and will be easier for us to maintain and manage. It comes with some features the old forum didn’t have but lacks some others. We do have the ability to add certain features, budget willing, in the months ahead and some of these are very exciting.

You can still follow a thread, though, by subscribing to its RSS feed and you can find guidelines on how to make these work really well for you here in the FAQs.

Where have all these weird Chinese books suddenly come from? 


They are very annoying spam, we’re afraid, and we are in the process of removing them. We would prefer not to add extra hoops to jump through for registration, which has been suggested as one way to restrict such activity, but will monitor the situation. To be honest, even a verification step is unlikely to stop a determined spammer.

When you’ve said you will change something, or are ‘looking at it’, when will we see the results?


That depends. Not a deliberately woolly answer and we’ll try to explain why.

The site has now been ‘delivered’ by the developers and we are in a warranty period so anything that was supposed to be working and isn’t, or needs tweaking to work properly, can be fixed during this period. In order to make sure that this gets done in a timely fashion we won’t be making any additional requests during that time. So if we, or you, come up with a great new suggestion or addition that will have to wait till October, when the warranty period ends. From that point on, budget allowing, we can make further changes.

Why do people have to join the site to be able to read the books? 


Some members have expressed a desire that anyone should be able to read the books on Authonomy and that our currently policy that only fellow members can read stuff on here should be reviewed.

At present the policy is there for a number of reasons. Given the very vocal concerns about books being available for download and the fact that you can now, if you really wanted to, copy and paste from books on the site we felt it best to keep the books on the other side of membership.

Also, we really want people to read and comment on the work they read. That will happen less often if you can access and read all the books without joining.

And, from a more HarperCollins-centric viewpoint, we want to know who is visiting and how they are engaging with the site.

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More to come tomorrow but do please leave a comment if you want something specific addressed. And if you have a troubleshooting question about your book or profile, please send us an email or take a look at the FAQs to see if we've answered it before.