In the beginning, there was Authonomy.

It all began with a site for authors called Authonomy, which was started by Harper-Collins in 2008. Now, I’m sure many of you know Authonomy and what it is today. But way back then…. Oh, it was a magic place, if you can say that a site is a ‘place’ in any sense of the word. In the beginning, there were probably only 200 or so authors who had spilled over from the ABNA competition and become friends while waiting for results. Then Authonomy started up.

I had no idea, really, of how it worked. I uploaded ‘Swedish for Beginners’ and then just forgot about it for a while. But one day, a few weeks later, I got an e-mail saying ‘you have a comment on your book.’ Excited, I logged on and there was the very first comment from another author, in London. It was so amazing to me to get this feedback from someone like that, on a site for authors. And little by little, I started reading other authors’ work and posting on the Authonomy forum.

The forum was, in those days, populated by authors with a tremendous variety in styles and voices. And the jokes and repartee of such sharp wit never to be seen on any forum or blog anywhere, in my opinion. The insults and fights were also horrible and bitter at times. But there was this unspoken camaraderie and support between us and many of us are friends for life ever since. Probably because of the mutual respect and understanding that we were all struggling, all trying so hard to survive in a very harsh marketplace. There was a strong, beating heart in that forum, a connection between kindred spirits.

We had threads about every subject under the sun and we used to call in and say hello to each other at various times of the day. I remember Simon and Alexander and their hilarious exchanges, while they were both plugging their books, my lovely friend Scarlett, who joined me in the flirting thread. We were the ‘hottest thread’ for weeks. M.M Bennetts who advised me about horsemanship and slid under the table with me for port and Stilton, Abu el Banat, the master of charm and wit. But dearest to my heart, my two fellow Scandinavians, Ola and Heikki.

It was wonderful.  And I miss it so.

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12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. M M Bennetts
    Aug 24, 2010 @ 21:39:13

    It was magic in those days. Absolutetly, it was. And the forums were tremendous in the sense that they allowed so many of us to spread our wings, metaphorically speaking, and talk about the literary issues that had been eating away at us for so long, to exchange ideas on books, and not only get to know each other but also ourselves as writers.

    And it was just so much fun!

    I’m still always available for a bit of table sliding…I was thinking about you actually, and that, today…in 1812, the stagecoach on the Great North Road stopped to change horses in Stilton…

    Reply

  2. susannefromsweden
    Aug 24, 2010 @ 21:44:01

    I think about you nearly every day. Sorry for being so distant…

    Let’s make a date and slide…

    Reply

  3. Raven Dane
    Aug 24, 2010 @ 22:56:27

    The place is toxic now but it used to be such a great place for fun, debate and camaraderie. Luckily I have stayed in daily touch with lovely autho ex pats on Facebook….the fun carries on without the toxics !

    Reply

  4. danholloway
    Aug 25, 2010 @ 20:16:33

    Fond memories, Susanne. ~I must say I still love the place and people are always pleasant if argumentative in the right way, but that’s only because I’ve been there so long I’m like the frail old guy in the corner of the roughest pub in town that no one ever beats on.

    Reply

  5. susannefromsweden
    Aug 25, 2010 @ 20:20:16

    Yes, but it’s not the same as the early, early days, Dan. Then, it was more fun and we were all more innocent. And we backed books mainly on merit and gave each other honest feedback. The heart is gone.

    Reply

  6. Robb
    Aug 26, 2010 @ 11:30:35

    I loved those days. I had been a member of a small writers group (in-person) that met once a week. Then suddenly, I was in the middle of a few hundred writers from around the world, very nervous about uploading my simple work, and not that familiar with Internet forums. And I was the new kid on the block – or so I thought. I didn’t realize at first that most of these people bantering and critiquing work and having deep conversations about literature were also new. Some had joined the same day I did, or just within weeks before. Yeah, a few knew each other from ABNA competition or The Shed, but within about 48 hours, I felt like a full member of the group.

    It was magical. I received so much excellent and constructive criticism, as well as a lot of positive feedback that was genuine (rather than ‘love your book, will you back mine?’). It boosted my confidence in my writing as well as taught me much about how to improve.

    And there was the flirting thread, the ‘how to write sex scenes’ thread, me bartending while Hannah danced on the table, Simon and Alexander’s repartee which sounded like they were old friends (I didn’t realize they’d never met before). Of course, there was the gold star in Dec 2008, which still hangs framed on my virtual wall along with the still-unpublished manuscript.

    I don’t hang out there anymore, it’s too crowded and way too many arguments for my taste. But there were about 6 magical months.

    Reply

  7. susannefromsweden
    Aug 26, 2010 @ 11:34:46

    Beautifully put, as always Robb. Thank you.

    Reply

  8. Ask A Spiritual Author
    Sep 12, 2010 @ 22:34:03

    So many familiar faces and names on here. What I loved about Authonomy is the people I have ‘met’ and some truly good books I’ve had the privilege of seeing before they are published.
    I feel a stranger there now. I have a book there, but the majority of really ‘fun’ people have all gone – so have most of the genuine comments and backings.
    Lovely to see you all. Lorraine xx

    Reply

  9. Trackback: 2010 in review « Susanne's Blog
  10. AJ
    Jan 27, 2011 @ 14:21:45

    Hi Susanne,

    I’m new to Authonomy… I found your entry on the site yesterday and followed the threads up to this point… I am interested in what you say about the site as I rather feel like a schoolboy novice as well… the innocence of trust and dread of the negatives.

    Anyway, although my interests are not the same as yours when it comes to the genres we target, your information and advice on self publishing and e-books attract attention… I would not mind attending one of your get-togethers, if it is aimed at advising novices on the way forward…

    I am trying to make do with very limited resources so every bit of advice is valuable to me!

    Thanks for what you have shared so far, if you feel you may want to look at whet I’ve uploaded please feel free to comment… ‘The Fathers of the Sons, by AJ Vosse’

    Kind regards,
    AJ

    Reply

  11. susannefromsweden
    Jan 27, 2011 @ 15:02:02

    Thank you, AJ, I started a thread on Authonomy with some more information. It’s in the self-publishing section.

    Good luck with your writing.

    Reply

  12. AJ
    Jan 28, 2011 @ 20:24:01

    Found the thread, thanks… suffering from a bit of information overload… everything’s all a little new…
    Cheers,

    Reply

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