has released its new social networking site Authonomy in private beta. The book publisher first announced the initiative in October 2007, and the site was expected to launch in early 2008.
aims to connect aspiring authors with “keen talent-spotting readers” by uploading a minimum of 10,000 words of their manuscript for the Authonomy community to discuss and feedback on. Users can leave comments on other member’s books, create a virtual bookshelf as well as upload their own manuscripts.
HarperCollins hopes that the site will mirror the success that the music industry has had with social networking sites, which have become an essential part of how people discover new music talents. The site is only part way through development, with HarperCollins announcing to private beta users that there are a lot more features to come, and inviting them to feedback their opinions on the site before a full public launch.
Victoria Barnsley, chief executive and publisher of HarperCollins UK comments
, “Very often we hear from budding new authors who tell us their script was loved by their family, book group or wide circle of friends. Authonomy™ is an opportunity for these authors to woo a large audience, get an army of support behind them, and really test whether their work has got what it takes to make it.”
HarperCollins say that Authonomy will be entirely democratic, and allow anyone to participate; either as an author, or as a reader. They also guarantee that the most popular manuscripts (as voted by the Authonomy community) will be considered for publication. HarperCollins also anticipates industry professionals looking for new talent to make up a ‘fair chunk’ of the readers.