Pop-Up Submissions will return in October!

Peter Cox

What Went Wrong With Authonomy

The Great British Bake-Off for Books Is Toast

Unleashed on August 20, 2015

I never warmed to Authonomy, writes Peter Cox, the website for wannabe writers run by publishing behemoth HarperCollins. Today’s news of its closure was, in my view, inevitable.

I wasn’t endeared to it partly because it gave me the uneasy feeling that the concept was loosely based around what we have been doing – for far longer and rather better – here with Litopia. With certain important, and ultimately fatal, differences.

It wasn’t hard to understand Authonomy’s appeal to aspiring authors. Here, in one easily-accessible package, was potential access to a major publisher’s editorial team. A dream come true! Forget about pitching to finicky agents – the velvet-rope bouncers of the literary world. Who needs gatekeepers in any case, when you can sell your book directly to the Big Cheese?

From the publisher’s viewpoint, the concept was beguilingly simple. Get the slushpile (for that’s what Authonomy really was) to do its own quality control. Toss into the mix every conceivable manuscript – dire, insane, mediocre and occasionally brilliant. The cream will rise to the surface as authors feverishly rate each others’ manuscripts in one vast Darwinian literary struggle for survival! The few scripts left standing can then be acquired and published. A cunning concept, eh?

Auth-Black-RGBRight there, I have a huge problem.

Forget about the fact that it devalues the editorial process to nothing more than a mere popularity contest. Yes, that’s quite a big deal in itself, but I have an even bigger beef.

Setting authors in competition with each other for an editor’s attention strikes me as a very poor plan indeed. It’s a sort of imbecilic extension of Ayn Rand’s Objectivism – the cracked political theory that continues to lay waste to many of Western civilization’s finest collaborative achievements.

Of course, Ayn Rand had little time for collaboration. She was all about rivalry, struggle, self-interest and the survival of the fittest. I think a place like Litopia would make Ms. Rand wince.

The truth is, authors need each other. We need each other to progressively hone our craft – and we need each other to chart a path through today’s perplexing publishing landscape.

We don’t need to be jealously set against each other in some bonkers version of the Great British Bake Off for Books.

Of course, I’m certain that there were many warm-hearted and generously-spirited members of Authonomy who will genuinely miss the community there.

To whom I would say – welcome to Litopia… you’ll fit right in.

Finally, please note. Litopia is not run by a publishing megalith. We are tiny, in fact. We singularly lack Mr. Murdoch’s deep pockets.

If you like Litopia – do please support us, to whatever extent you can.








Highlights from the Shop


Riff-Raff, Rebels & Rock Gods

A Journey Through The Wildest Years Of British Rock


MASTERCLASS with Peter Cox

Ignite Your Writing With This One-On-One Intensive

Also in this series

The Rise & Fall of Harvey Weinstein

The real Harvey is fearful, paranoid, and hates being touched (when fully dressed)

Loggers & Wiseguys

Resolute Forest Products Is A Big Fat Bully

Writers Of The World, Unite!

You Have Nothing To Lose But Your Quatrains

God Loves The Plagiarist

When a thing has been said and said well, have no scruple. Take it and copy it.

The Consolation Of Narcissism

Nobody can be kinder than the narcissist while you react to life in his own terms.

Author Vs Literary Agent Smackdown

What Do You Do When You Want To Change Agents?

Publishing Without Consent

Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.

The Panopticon of Fear

And This Time, It's Not DJT’s Fault

Joseph Boyden: Who Are You, Really?

“I’m kind of confused by the question... I think that’s very much a White construct”

Regeneration – Pat Barker

The Beginning of Something New

My Brilliant Friend – Elena Ferrante

Rivalry, Precocity, Misery

River of Smoke – Amitav Ghosh

‘Inhale, Exhale’ – Cypress Hill
Susan Greenfield - Baroness of the Brain

Susan Greenfield – Baroness of the Brain

Love Her or Loathe Her, Just Don’t Ignore What This Top Scientist Is Saying About Your Brain
Burning Books

Public Service Announcement

School of Velocity / Burning Books Format Changes

The Sensitive Billionaire

The More Money You Get, The Thinner Your Skin Becomes

For The Love of Film

Three Authors, Three Film Buffs, Two Directors And A Memory Of Jam...

The Dirty Dictionary

Not Our Fault – Honest – If The OED Goes All Potty-Mouth!

Skurvi & The Rebelles

Cheap Booze, Cheap Laughs And Punk Rock

Salman Rushdie & Sherlock Homeboy

Plus Donald Trump & A Serial Killer...

Dark Hunter Vs Shadowhunter

When Super-Colossal Authors Collide

The Ruts

Widely Regarded As One Of The Greatest Punk Bands Of All Time

The Icelandic Book Flood

From Havana To Reykjavík, It’s Raining Books... Muy Caliente!

Just A Man And His Will To Survive

Go for the ribs, don't let that bastard breathe!

The Adversary – Emmanuel Carrère

A Case of Mistaken Identity

The Best Track Of The Year

And The Winner Is...

The Year’s Midnight

The World's Whole Sap Is Sunk

Money, Medicine & Marijuana

The Highs And Lows Of Legal Weed

Morality Play – Barry Unsworth

More Naughty Than Nice

Latecomers – Anita Brookner

Never Started Before It Was Over

Ripped Off By The BBC?

Does The World’s Oldest Public Service Broadcaster Nick Ideas From Authors?
Millie Manders

Garry Johnson & Nick Welsh

How To Punk The Tabloid Newspapers For 15 Years!

Whatever Happened To… The Stranglers?

Altogether Now... No More Heroes Any More...

Women Who Rock – Pride, Passion & Prejudice

It's Different For Girls... Rock-Climbing For Women

The Scapegoat – Sophia Nikolaidou

When the World is Against You

Of Headscarves & Hymens: A Candid Conversation With Mona Eltahawy

Bruised, Defiant – Just Don’t Try Rescuing Her

The Graveltones & Harry St Jimmy Adams

Your Monthly Smörgåsbord Of The Best In New Alternative Music!

Steve Diggle – Still A Buzz, Cock

A Tour-De-Force Of Punks On Tour

Patti Boulaye: From Strife To Stardom

All She Wanted Was To Be A Nun... But She Ended Up A Star Instead

Serial Killers of the World Unite!

You Have Nothing To Lose But Your Reputation...

Gender Discrimination in Publishing

Looks Like It’s Tougher For Women To Get Published Than Men