Umwelt House: New house on the block

Update: As of 1 May, 2015, there is a note on the Umwelt House homepage that they are currently closed for submissions. I am sure this will change so I am keeping this article up as general information about their requirements.

New speculative fiction publisher, Umwelt House, recently announced a call out for short novels and novellas. Craig Hitchings, Umwelt House’s founder and editor, kindly agreed to answer some questions about what they’re looking for.

Umwelt House Logo

Craig, can you tell me which authors, books or speculative fiction subgenres excite you?

I tend to go through phases of getting really into someone, becoming completely obsessed and reading their books one after the other. The first author that comes to mind is China Miéville, whose novel Perdido Street Station blew me away a few years ago. I’ve since read all his books – the man is an ideas factory. Douglas Adam’s The Hitchhickers Guide to the Galaxy has a similar effect on me, and I ripped through the rest of the series in a matter of weeks. The book I most loved as a teenager was George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.

I recently read Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash and Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, both of which kicked my ass. The Inverted World by Christopher Priest was another brilliantly executed idea. Nancy Kress’s novella Beggars in Spain was similarly excellent throughout.

Of course, I find myself returning to the classic novels by Philip K Dick, Margaret Atwood, Ursula K Le Guin, Stanislaw Lem, J R R Tolkien, John W Campbell, Isaac Asimov and Arthur C Clarke. The latter’s The City and the Stars is truly amazing – I’ve re-read it a few times now.

I’m also massively influenced by TV series, which I think have eclipsed film as the dominant visual form in recent years. I’ve been obsessed with Channel 4’s Utopia – particularly by the way it’s shot, the amazing music and the fantastic characters who add a human element to what is a very cold, dark conspiracy story. I loved Lost when that was on – and still do. Of course, credit must be given to Joss Whedon’s Firefly. The Game of Thrones adaptation is well done and Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror series contains some brilliant episodes. There are so many to mention. A French show called Les Revenants (The Returned in English) is also well worth a watch – the music by Mogwai is great.

What do you look for in a manuscript?
I look for manuscripts that offer something a little different – whether it’s a mindblowing idea, a great character piece or something that’s just a damn good yarn. There’s a lot of saturation in the science fiction and fantasy genres, so I prefer things that blend elements from all genres, whether that’s sf, fantasy, magical realism, utopian/dystopian, horror and so on. I think the most interesting stuff crosses the borders. For example, two short pieces that really stick out for me are George Saunders’ Pastoralia and Escape from Spiderhead. Both shorts are hard to define in traditional publishing terms, but they are truly engaging, well-written stories with fully-formed worlds and rules that take the reader out of themselves. The best thing is that Saunders achieves this with an incredible economy of words. It’s this type of writer that I’m most interested in – someone who can describe amazing things within a very small space. I love clear language.

Take a non-speculative fiction author such as Charles Bukowski as an example. He doesn’t fluff his language. Everything is precise, pared back, powerful. If something doesn’t need explanation, he doesn’t say it. If a character smokes a cigarette, he says ‘X smoked a cigarette’. The reader can fill in the rest.

Do you have any suggestions for writers wanting to be published with Umwelt House?
First and foremost, be original, or at least present a classic idea in an original way. Write in your own style, without thinking about markets, or length, or anything else that puts restrictions on the work. It’s good to get shorter pieces into a few of the magazines, or to write a blog or have a decent social media following, but they’re not necessarily prerequisites. Above all else, read the submission guidelines carefully and stick to them, otherwise it’s just a waste of everyone’s time. A clearly formatted manuscript and a good synopsis also help with initial impressions.

Have you signed any authors yet? Anyone you’d care to mention?
I’m keeping quiet on that at the moment. I will announce any signings as soon I can. We’ve only been open for submissions for a few months. I have had a couple of interesting pieces that I’m considering. I hope to receive many more manuscripts over the coming months, with the first publications scheduled for 2015. I will always contact an author who perhaps has a nice idea but needs to put more work in to make it great.

How will Umwelt House’s titles be promoted?
I think, with the way the publishing industry is going, everything will be done online. First of all, the book covers will feature one colour that will be reflected across the website and our social media channels. When the colour changes, you’ll know there’s another Umwelt House book to read. I also aim to create interesting video content in collaboration with some of my friends working in London’s film industry.

Of course, it would be excellent to get reviews in national media (I currently work for one of the major newspapers in London), but it’s hard breaking through if you’re not one of the big publishers. So, in the initial stages, I hope that smaller publications and bloggers will take to the work, feature the authors in round-up pieces and interview them about their inspirations, aspirations and future plans. We’ll also be entering the books in the shorter categories offered by the Hugos, Nebulas and the other main awards.

The main selling point is that all the books will be under 70,000 words – a novella or short novel. They can be read in a few hours. They’ll take you on a journey in much the same way a novel would, without you having to set aside a couple of weeks/months to read them.

Do you offer authors advances or royalties?
At this stage, we are a small company, so we can’t offer advances. What money we have will need to go on printing, distribution, marketing and other costs. However, of course there will be royalties. I still need to finalise the exact amounts, but I’m hoping to offer as even a split between publisher and author as possible. But fear not, the percentages will be far more in favour of the author than what is currently offered by the corporate publishers and the wider industry. As far as I’m concerned, I’m not in it for the money. I want Umwelt House to make enough off each title in order to cover the publishing costs of another book – to get another author in front of the reading public. If I can keep this going long term, then I’ll be very happy indeed. Anything else is a bonus.

How many titles do you plan on publishing in 2015?
I’m hoping to start off with three or four throughout the first year. But I want to keep the quality extremely high. I’m hoping that if you like one Umwelt House book, then there’s a high chance you’ll like the other publications. That’s the plan, anyway.

How will readers be able to buy Umwelt House books? Which e-bookstores, ebook formats? How will they be priced?
Initially, they will be able to get them through the website, and through Amazon (both print and digital), iBooks, Barnes & Noble and other online stores. Once this has been set up, I hope to get the books out in shops in London, following up with distribution deals for the UK. After that, it’s about making sure the books get to America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other English-speaking countries. It’s early days at the moment, of course, but I also hope to get the works translated into Spanish, French and German at the very least. I’ll see how it goes.

In terms of price, I think we’ll aim for £5-£6 – the price of a couple of drinks (or one if you’re in London).

Are you looking for slush pile readers or interns at the moment?
I read every manuscript myself at this stage. And I try to get to each one within three months of it being submitted. I hope to keep this practice going for as long as I can, though I understand that it may become impossible later on down the line. Again, I’ll have to see.

Thank you, Craig Hitchings!

Umwelt House is seeking speculative fiction short novels and novellas in the 15,000-70,000 word range. Please submit your DOC, DOCX or PDF file in 12-point font, double line spacing using the links below.

Umwelt House
For more information on submitting your manuscript, click here.
To submit your manuscript, click here.
Connect with Umwelt House and Craig on Twitter!


Part two of an interview with Tansy Rayner Roberts

In part two of my interview with Tansy Rayner Roberts, Tansy explains how she promotes herself as a writer.

The cover for Ink Black Magic, Book 3 in the Mocklore Chronicles trilogy.

The cover for Ink Black Magic,
Book 3 of Tansy’s Mocklore Chronicles trilogy.

Did you plan the promotional websites or have they evolved as a result of the projects you’ve been involved with?
They’ve absolutely evolved. I’ve been blogging for at least a decade, but made the shift from Livejournal to a proper blog with my own URL round about the time that the Creature Court books were first published with HarperVoyager. When a new social media platform comes along I will usually have a play with it, and set something up, but I am wary of over-stretching myself. My blog remains as the central online place to find me, and I tie everything back to it as much as possible. Livia Day [Tansy’s nom-de-plume for crime fiction] is a bit neglected on the social media side – I find it too straining to pretend to be another person – but I have a basic site for her if people go hunting for the name and books.

You’re often busy on Twitter. Did you make a decision to avoid Facebook?
I don’t avoid Facebook at all! I’m more active on there now than I have ever been. I still love Twitter best – but I used to just mirror tweets on Facebook for years before a friend told me kindly to stop, because it’s really obvious.

Part of me has regretted those early sales, before I was entirely ‘cooked’ as an author.

I generally use Facebook to keep an eye on actual people I know, and don’t get to catch up with as often as I’d like. Twitter is something I enjoy for conversations across the international community. I put links to every blog post on both platforms, and convey news about my books etc. but otherwise I don’t really use them for promotion as such – I don’t think social media works that way. I prefer to use it for communication and fun and that instant ‘I don’t have a water cooler because I work from home’ chat that livens up the day. The good thing about that attitude is that I never convince myself that hanging out on Twitter for an hour is the same as doing an hour of work.

Do you give talks about your writing and books? Do you have a particular approach to public speaking or do you ‘wing it’?
I love to talk. I don’t do enough of things like school visits – I really should, but I’m constantly snowed under, so it’s not something I actively seek out. I often go to conventions though, and will speak at writers festivals when I’m asked. I was recently invited to the Beaconsfield Festival of Golden Words and loved it – I got to talk to a classroom of kids about writing, and then I got to be on panels as both Tansy and Livia!

My process is to figure out what’s wanted – if they want a formal speech, I will prepare something. But I know from experience that I am excellent at winging it, and so I will rely on that rather a lot. If there’s someone to ask questions, like at a panel, then I know that I don’t need much pre-planning at all. It helps to know that, because I get terribly nervous before presenting, and the earlier I start thinking about what I’m actually going to say, the earlier I get nervous. So I often terrify people by refusing to think about public appearances AT ALL until the very last minute. It almost always turns out wonderfully!

Tell me about your involvement with the crowdfunded Cranky Ladies of History project. Do you believe it is necessary to fund small press publications in this way nowadays?
I don’t think it’s necessary as such – though there is more of a strain on small presses than ever before, because a lot of the niche work of quality that used to come their way is now being self-published by authors. But crowdfunding can be an excellent business model for small presses and solo authors alike – it’s a brilliant way to create buzz around a project, and to check that it’s viable before you go to the presses. Not just having the money up front to print a book, which is fabulous, but also having your readers committed.

It’s heartbreaking at times – I have a lot of friends who are small publishers – to see them sink so much time and money and unpaid effort into a work that they think will have a solid audience, only for it not to find that audience.

Cranky Ladies of History was crowdfunded for one simple reason – Tehani [Wessely from Fablecroft] and I wanted to make the book, and we wanted to be able to pay pro rates to authors. Small presses can often get very good writers to work for them for a smaller amount of money because they have other things to offer – great editing, personal involvement in book decisions, and most importantly, a modern, flexible and collaborative approach to digital publishing, something that many of the larger publishers are seriously falling behind on.

So Tehani was always planning to print the book herself, and cover those basic publishing costs that she always does. The crowdfunding allowed us to test the idea to see if it had legs (people loved it! The title of the book created half the buzz) and also to raise the funds to pay authors what they are worth. It meant we could approach some seriously big name authors to take part, but also means that the newer writers who take part will be paid substantially as well.

My blog remains as the central online place to find me, and I tie everything back to it as much as possible.

Many of the authors helped out with the campaign – and even authors who didn’t have time to write a pitch or story for us volunteered to spread the word. Others wrote blog posts for our Cranky Ladies of History blog tour, which celebrated Women’s History Month. It was a mad, glorious festival of retweeting, and we were so excited to make not only the target goal, but our stretch goals, so the book will be illustrated now and have more stories in it than originally planned.

If you could travel back in time to the moment before you sent off your first manuscript, what advice would you give yourself?
That’s a tricky one! Part of me has regretted those early sales, before I was entirely ‘cooked’ as an author. A debut is a terrible thing to waste, and I do feel at times that mine was a bit soggy. I had my expectations rather horrible dashed within a year or two – coping with your first novel rejection after being published feels much worse than working up to an acceptance slowly! But without that first sale, I wouldn’t have learned half the lessons about writing and publishing that I did, and I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to earn an income as a creative writing teacher for so many years.

I think sometimes, these days, authors are in such a hurry to be published, and because they can do it themselves, they hurl themselves into the fray. And I wince, because I see authors who start getting published later in their lives who seem to do a better job than I did of turning one or two sales into a proper steady career. It’s a tiny bit painful to have your juvenilia out there, published as a real book, when you know you can do better now. But I guess most of us feel that way about books we wrote 15 years ago?

My path to and from publication may have some bumps (and dips!) in it, but it’s mine, and I don’t think I’d do anything differently. I would tell my younger self to go ahead, post the manuscript, publish and be damned! (But also to write more books before having kids. Trust me on this.)

Tansy, thank you!


Tansy Rayner Roberts

Tansy Rayner Roberts

Tansy Rayner Roberts is a fantasy author who lives with her partner and two daughters in Hobart, Tasmania. Mind-bogglingly prolific, Tansy has edited Andromeda Spaceways, co-edited AustrAlien Absurdities and promoted (and will co-edit) the Cranky Ladies of History project for Fablecroft. Tansy is one of the three voices of the Hugo-nominated Galactic Suburbia podcast. She also writes crime fiction as Livia Day.
Tansy has won Aurealis, Ditmar and Washington Small Press Short Fiction awards. She won the Hugo award for Best Fan Writer in 2013.

Tansy’s blog: Stitching words, one thread at a time.
Website for Tansy’s nom-de-plume: Livia Day.
Tansy’s Creature Court trilogy.
The Galactic Suburbia podcast.
To promote the Livia Day series.
The Cranky Ladies of History project on Fablecroft, on Pozible and on Pinterest.

You can also find Tansy on Twitter as @liviadaysleuth and @tansyrr.

Interview with Tasmanian fantasy author, Tansy Rayner Roberts

Tansy Rayner Roberts is a prolific fantasy author. In the following interview, she talks about her writing career.

Photo of fantasy author, Tansy Rayner Roberts

Fantasy author,
Tansy Rayner Roberts

Tansy, can you tell me how you first came to be published?
I always feel a bit guilty about telling this story, because my path to publication is no help to anyone! I entered the George Turner Prize (which no longer exists) for an unpublished SF/F novel, and I won! Splashdance Silver was bought by Transworld in 1998 when I was just nineteen years old, and published a few months later. It was at a time when there was a very set idea in Australia about what fantasy fiction was like, and my book was very different – it was a comedy about pirates and explosive magic.

How have you developed your writing craft?
Absolutely through practice. I spent most of my teens writing novel after novel, and reading voraciously. Formal study was never much use to me because the creative writing teachers I had access to were not sympathetic at all to genre. I actually learned a lot from teaching, as well – through a stroke of luck I fell into work as a creative writing teacher at night school through my twenties, and developed several regular courses, mostly for beginner writers. There was often one or at most two writers in each class who were there because I was a fantasy writer, and I did my best to give them more genre-specific support than I ever found myself.

I actually only quit teaching back when I had a trilogy deal with HarperVoyager and realised that to get the books finished and to make them good, I needed to not be thinking about the beginner end of writing for a while – I had to push myself beyond the basics.

The most useful professional development I did over the last decade and a half or so was as part of the ROR group – a collection of SF and fantasy writers who wanted to work on our skills collaboratively, because there are so few development options available to you once you’ve sold your first novel, but still so much learning to do. Every year and a half or so, we would exchange manuscripts and then all go away together for a long weekend to exchange critiques. It was an amazing experience, though sadly we struggle to find time for those getaways any more – mostly for good reasons like publisher deadlines!

How has being a parent influenced your writing?
That’s so hard to answer! Being a parent is who I am now – nine years and counting – I hardly remember who that person was, before my first daughter came along. Most of the everyday effects of being a parent vs not a parent that I actually think about do involve time management, and all that practical stuff. But all life experiences inform my writing, and I think I’m a more interesting person in my thirties than I was when I was younger – my kids and partner and parenting experience are all part of that.

You wear many hats as a writer. You’re also an editor and have reviewed an impressive list of titles. You write in the speculative fiction and crime genres (as Livia Day), for children, and publish through different publishing houses. Was this a deliberate decision or something that comes naturally to you?

I’ve never been able to settle to just one kind of writing or work – on the one hand, I might have a more effective “author brand” (ugh) if I did. But today’s publishing industry is so scattered, it’s hard to limit yourself to one kind of opportunity. I got involved with small press publishing and editing at a time when I had been dropped as a writer from my previous publisher – and I was burned out on writing novels. That gave me amazing experience that I could feed into other writing work, and also introduced me to some wonderful people in the SF community. Reading and reviewing helped me to keep a foot in that community even when my professional side was elsewhere – studying, or working.

As for publishing across multiple houses – if you’re not a bestseller, you can’t afford not to keep moving, spreading your work across different platforms. If one publisher doesn’t like a particular book, maybe the next one will. I’m lucky at the moment to have two wonderful indie presses publishing my work – Twelfth Planet Press has published a lot of my short fiction, and now the Livia Day novels. Many of the awards I have won have been down to the work Twelfth Planet Press has published.

Meanwhile, Tehani of Fablecroft has reprinted my old Mocklore novels including my debut Splashdance Silver, and recently launched the long-unpublished third Mocklore Chronicle, Ink Black Magic. She is going to publish some collections of my essays later this year, and we collaborated together on crowdfunding the Cranky Ladies of History anthology. I rarely have time for editing these days, but a great project can occasionally lure me back…

Cover for Livia Day's A Trifle Dead

A Trifle Dead, published under Tansy’s nom-de-plume, Livia Day.

Can you tell me about using Hobart, Tasmania as a setting for your crime novels?
I live and breathe Hobart! I’ve lived here all my life. I was always a bit hesitant about writing my own city when I was younger – it seemed much more intimidating than making up a world from scratch. But I’m hooked now. My first Hobart-set longer work was the novella ‘Siren Beat’ which had a kraken invade the Derwent River. Mostly I use it for the ‘real world’ work like Livia Day’s novels – and I have occasionally paced a few streets, though I am also lazy and use Google Earth when I need a refresher on a particular area. For the second novel, Drowned Vanilla, I invented a town just south of Cygnet [also in Tasmania], because my mother lives in that area and I didn’t want to offend anyone by making the population of a real town too nasty!

Your work is published with a number of houses: Fablecroft, Twelfth Planet Press and Harper Voyager, as well as writing for children with ABC Books. Is there any particular reason for this?
Different projects, different publishers. It’s very rare for an author to stick with a single publisher for their whole career – unless you’re making millions, and even then, there are often reasons to change! Publishing houses have different priorities and modes, and of course it’s all about what a commissioning editor will buy. I’ve been lucky to work with some of the very best in recent years, whether that’s Stephanie Smith at HarperVoyager (now sadly retired!) or Alisa and Tehani with their boutique presses.

Do you have an agent?
Not currently. I have had at various stages of my career. The last one and I parted company amicably after the Voyager trilogy – we weren’t a good fit for each other. I am aiming for an American agent now, because getting my work out of Australia has been the biggest challenge – but it’s a tough time. The last book I wrote was the one I was hoping would be my breakout, but it’s only swum in circles and is still unpublished. I’m resting it right now and working on a new novel that I will shop around agents in the hope of finding the right person. It’s a tricky business, matching agent to author.

In a few days I’ll post part two of this interview, where Tansy talks about how she promotes herself as a writer.

Bloomsbury Spark call for submissions

If you’re finishing off a manuscript in one of the genres of romance, contemporary, dystopian, paranormal, sf, mystery, thriller, (or more, apparently!), Bloomsbury Publishing may be interested.

They’re launching a new imprint, Bloomsbury Spark, and plan on publishing ebooks for teen, YA and new adult readers.

Manuscript word count between 25 and 60k words.

Click here for all the info.

Thanks to @BloomsburySyd (Twitter) for the correct link! (Who says Twitter isn’t useful?)

My favourite writing research tools

A couple of days ago I wrote a post about technology I’ve been using to help me write. Today I thought I’d share my technological research tools. There may be something here you haven’t come across – or perhaps you’ve a great suggestion you’d like to share!

My favourite writers’ research tools

This year I’ve found myself using eBooks as well as print books for research. I rarely use my clunky old Kindle – but do use the wonderful Kindle app for the iPad. This sits on your iPad desktop like any other app but allows you to read Kindle eBooks.

I’m currently writing stories set in the late 18th-early 19th centuries, and on the Kindle store I’ve found lots of free literature written during this period. I lucked upon the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue. It’s full of familiar words that have changed meaning over the years, as well as words that have disappeared. It’s like time-travelling, only through language. Classic books are all there. In fact any classic that’s out of copyright is likely to be on the Kindle store. This means I don’t have to keep my bookcases cluttered with paperback classics.

My only warning here is that many of the free Kindle eBooks are poorly-formatted. At least with freebies you haven’t spent any money.

(I hope this doesn’t sound like I don’t like spending money on eBooks! I do, cross my heart. I also buy picture book apps, which are those all-singing, all-dancing magic books. But this is usually for entertainment, rather than research.)

Another iPad app I use for research is the British Library Historical Collection. It’s a portal to their historical collection. There’s a lot there within my own niche area of interest that I can’t access at my local, the State Library of Victoria. And as it’s curated by librarians, the collection can be searched in a variety of ways. Even browsing is a lot of fun – perfect for inspiration.

Robert Fortune’s Two visits to the Tea countries of China and the British Tea Plantations in the Himalaya recently caught my fancy. Although The History of a Lump of Chalk by Alexander Watt sounds good too!

Nothing beats visiting the place in which you’re setting your story. If you can’t do that, there’s always Google maps. And major libraries have been busy digitising their collections – particularly useful for accessing maps, photographs – any sort illustrative material. This means I don’t have to visit the library in person. I can sit at home and view and print the material I need. I discovered the Alma Collection at the State Library of Victoria in this way. It’s material collected by Will Alma on the history of magic and magicians in Melbourne. There are hundreds of wonderfully atmospheric photos and posters.

Researching what’s hot and what’s not

If you’re like me and want to know what other publishers and authors are producing, there’s nothing like a spot of market research. Having lost 20% of bookstores in Australia in recent times, I’ve been backing up my bookstore research with online research.

On Amazon, you can search your region as well as new releases from the last 30 or 90 days. However, given Amazon’s less-than-generous terms for most publishers outside the US, this is probably not a representative sample for Australian publishing.

The Apple iBookstore is growing, and there is strong representation from Australian publishers. On the iBookstore you can download samples of every title for free. Unfortunately this doesn’t always give you a good indication of the title. With picture books in particular, I’ve found you can end up with a cover, the usual preliminary material, then straight to the ‘buy this book’ button. So not always a helpful guide. I should mention you do need an iPad or iPhone to access iBookstore.

I always find it’s a good idea to keep an eye on what particular publishing companies are publishing. These are companies who release similar material to what I write. On their websites, most book publishers have subscription-based e-newsletters where they’ll periodically announce their latest releases. If you ignore the spin, these can be useful for market research.

I haven’t signed up for it so can’t really comment – but I’ve heard Netgalley is a good way of seeing what publishers and authors are up to.

So that’s it for the technology I find useful for writing. If you’ve any suggestions for research tools, as usual I’d love to hear them!

Call-out for Christmas stories

Books a go-go call-out image

Books á go-go, a new Melbourne-based ebook publisher, is calling for submissions for their Christmas 2011 publication. The chosen story will be illustrated and sold on the Apple iTunes store as an enhanced ebook.

They’re looking for submissions that:

  • Are aimed at adults who enjoy reading children’s literature, as well as ‘kidults’.
  • Possess a child-like, magical or creepy charm. Think Neil Gaiman, Shaun Tan, Tim Burton or even Charles Dickens.
  • Use a Christmas setting or theme.
  • Fit into the genre of steampunk, magical realism, fantasy or science fiction. Above all, they want stories that are intriguing, entertaining and well-crafted.
  • Between 3,000-5,000 words.
  • Payment will be a $AU200 advance with 10% royalties. (The illustrator will also receive 10%.)

Preference may be given to stories by Australian authors.

The author will need to be available for some promotional activity between Oct and Dec 2011. (This could be online.)

How to submit your story

Send a pitch or synopsis of no more than 100 words, along with a 500 word sample in the body of your email, to: publisher at booksago-go dot com dot au

Please include:

  • Your full name.
  • Use or include an email address that you check regularly and is operational.
  • Your address and a phone number, including area code.
  • A pitch or synopsis of no more than 100 words.
  • A 500-word sample of your story.

Deadline for submissions

The deadline for pitches and samples is 5pm AEDT on Friday, 1 April 2011.

If your story is selected, you’ll need to supply your completed story by 5pm AEST on Friday, 22 April 2011.

Please note no submissions for this project will be accepted after 1 April, 2011.

Cat in plane illustration courtesy Basak Savcigil.

The pros & cons of Authonomy: A guest post by Paul Xavier Jones

The cover for Paul Xavier Jones' book

Paul's book, Boundary Limit

Today emerging writer Paul Xavier Jones shares his experience of publicising his book through the Harper Collins website, Authonomy.

What exactly is Authonomy?

Authonomy is a website managed by Harper Collins publishers. The idea is, rather than submitting a manuscript directly to the Harper Collins’ slush pile, users of the site rate books and provide feedback to authors.

How does Authonomy work?

A fledgling writer can upload either a few chapters or an entire manuscript onto the site. Other writers and the general public then read as much as they like, and rate the book. There is a ranking system, based on how many people load the work onto their ‘bookshelf’ and there is also a ‘star’ rating system. Readers can leave comments about the work, or suggestions for improvements or ideas.

If your book gets into the top 5 of books on the site, then Harper Collins will select it for review by their editorial team.

What have you found useful about the site?

I found the comments section the most useful, although you have to take them with a pinch of salt. A lot of the people who write comments are other authors on the site. They tend to be gentle with their comments, because they want you to read their work and comment favourably, or back their work by putting it on your virtual bookshelf. I only got one really critical comment, and the person leaving it had a point; I used what he said to improve the work.

What hasn’t been useful about the site?

The site isn’t achieving what Harper Collins set out to do. People solicit for votes. If you want to move up the ranks, you need to plead for votes, or join voting ‘blocks’ where if you vote for someone, their friends will vote for you.

There seems to be little interest in the actual merit of the writing itself. The work on the site is variable in quality. I’ve read stuff that was absolutely first rate, and I’ve also read stuff that was poorly written.

About Paul
At ten years old, Paul Xavier Jones was part of the generation captivated by the first Star Wars film. He thus began a life long love affair with sci fi, fantasy and thrillers. Three decades later, he has accomplished something that was just a dream back then – completing his own work on a sci fi thriller, Boundary Limit.

Paul has also written a fantasy trilogy, the Ameca J series, which will be available on Kindle shortly.

Paul is married, has two daughters and lives in Wales.

About Boundary Limit

What happens when a boundary limit is exceeded?

Blake Trubble is a man with an obsession. Personal tragedy and a troubled past have moulded him into an emotionless killing machine, with one aim in life – the ruthless and relentless pursuit and destruction of all extremists.

With his job as a Major in a crack SAS team dedicated to hostage extraction, he has numerous opportunities to fulfil his aim.
But there’s one man Blake wants more than any other: Mahmoud Sabak, the Western governments’ most wanted terrorist leader, the so-called ‘missing link’ between the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

When Sabak seizes the Euro Large Hadron Collider at Batavia, Blake must rescue the four hundred scientists and staff being held hostage from Sabak’s deadly grip.

But both Blake and Sabak haven’t counted on the power of the Collider – when it pushes at the boundary of this reality, breaching its limits and opening a door to another.

And when doors are opened, things can come through …

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