Why don’t you publish more books from the Editor’s Desk?
This is almost certainly the question I am asked most often. There is no one definitive answer so apologies if I ramble on a bit from this point.
It is true that after some remarkable success stories in the early days of authonomy, with a number of authors getting publishing deals and going on to have Sunday Times bestselling books, the strike rate has slowed down. As the number of manuscripts on the site grew it became more difficult to identify those with the most potential.
In theory, of course, the books that make the Editor’s Desk each month should be the pick of the site but in the past couple of years this has not always been the case. Authors who were good at networking and drumming up backings were just as likely, if not more so, to hit the top five as those with the best manuscripts. We were duty bound to share these with the HarperCollins editors and, to be frank, they were presented with a lot of books that just were not viable publishing propositions and that early success rate slowed down as a result.
Don’t get me wrong, many great manuscripts do still make the Editor’s Desk, but we have been forced to look further afield as well, checking out books from all across the site but with over 10,000 books online here it is a big job.
My number one priority with the authonomy revamp is to fix the ratings and ranking system to ensure that the very best work rises to the top. Once we do this I am confident that HarperCollins will be publishing more and more books discovered on the site.
Also, when considering how much we do or do not publish bear in mind that not every manuscript on here is a finished work. Quite a number of books that make the Desk are not complete and we are, understandably, less likely to sign up one of these until there are finished. And there are some authors we have spoken to about possible book deals who have not chosen to take us up on the offer.
We are looking for books that we think stand a chance of being successful in what is already a crowded marketplace. We are prepared to put the editorial expertise and time into these books but we will not just routinely publish any book that makes the desk, however popular it may make us if we did.
I am sure many of you realise that this is the case but I also know that many are frustrated and want to see more books from authonomy being published by HarperCollins. This will happen if we can fix the way the site works.
Will authonomy users get any say in the new version of the site?
Of course you will, and you’ll all be invited to take part in a survey pretty soon. We’ve only just secured the funds for the revamp so now is the perfect time to get your ideas and suggestions. We read many of these every week anyway but it makes sense to consolidate them through a more formal survey. So watch this space...