After clinging to the top spot on the Authonomy charts for three weeks, MALEFICIVM goes to the Editor's Desk today.
Some explanation is in order. Authonomy is a web forum for independent writers to post up their works-in-progress. It was created by book publishers Harper Collins "to unearth new talent". Users maintain a 'Bookshelf' of up to five books they rate highly and the site algorithm computers a popularity chart from this. The algorithm gives more credit to books that have been 'backed' for long periods of time, so a book with a small devoted following can climb the charts over the months while a book with transient appeal may not climb high because no one backs it for long.
MALEFICIVM is my horror/fantasy/historical fiction novel that I posted up on the site last summer. I then dropped out of things for 8 months and returned to find the book bothering the top 10. This month is rose to the top 5. Then the No 1 slot.
At the start of each month, Harper Collins removes the top five books from the polls. These are "delivered to the desk of a relevant HarperCollins editor" for review. It doesn't say the editor does the reviewing; it's probably an intern. The reviewer undertakes to read at least 10,000 words and sends back a review based on what they've read. The reviews tend to accentuate the positive but focus on what needs to be done to make the book commercially viable. Sometimes that's a lot (Authonomy-users call this "a bad review") and sometimes not much.
Harper Collins are quick to point out that a review from the Editor's Desk is in no way an undertaking to publish. Nonetheless, they claim to have "successfully published a number of books, across a range of genres, that were found on Authonomy". This is a controversial claim.
Despite these reservations, a Harper Collins review is a valuable endorsement. This summer I'll be sending Tinderspark and MALEFICIVM, redrafted, back to the Agencies that expressed interest last year. Since they've probably forgotten all about me, my submission will need to remind them about the book and also suggest to them why it's worth getting interested again. Quoting from a positive HC review is a great calling card. That's my thinking.
So, what's the HC review likely to tell me. I hope it will be positive about the setting, style, characters and dialogue. I think it will endorse the book creatively, as something with potential. I expect to be advised to abandon the recursive plot structure in favour of something more linear (ditch the flashbacks) and to scale back the erotica to something more commercially acceptable. I suspect I'll be told to develop the character of Capria earlier so as not to alienate female readers (and Editors). I might be told that a genre-mash-up like this is just not something publishers want to take chances on, which would be depressing.
But it's EXCITING and it's a step forward. The review will be posted up on Authonomy when it appears and I'm not sure how long that takes - maybe a month? I'll deconstruct it on this blog when it happens. Then I'll start redrafting MALEFICIVM.
REVIEWS FROM AUTHONOMY USERS
Every now and again I read a book where I know from the very beginning I'm delving into something that will hold me, consume me and leave me feeling as if the writer has carried me along on a wave of emotions. This book does it all -- Lin Churchill
Maleficivm very well crafted and completely immersive, full of historical detail to keep the reader grounded in time and place while maintaining momentum and excitement -- Eric Dorfman
Jonathan Rowe set out to write a genre piece, a sex and horror fantasy novel. But he is much too literate for that. Instead he has created a gripping historical fiction - Jim Heter
This is a polished, stunning piece of writing. Not the epic/high fantasy I'm looking for, but it's calling me to read on regardless. I feel like I will get a history lesson and be thoroughly entertained at the same time - Soulfire
Poor Lucius Ennius Fausto ... what a main character I think I'm in love :) -- Lindsay55
I HATE Lucius, I LOVE Lucius! What a great character! -- aurorawatcher
Very engaging and Capria's character is brilliant -- Adam Richardson
You write woman well - you give them dimensions, a purpose and spirit. I like that. But your pace is what makes this so publishable -- Singers
I think you should forget horror, fantasy, roman, celtic, pagan, philosophy, religion, and historical fiction. Write erotica. This is the very best I've seen on this site -- digsblues