New “Alternative to Self-Publishing” Poses Risks for Authors

Zondervan and Baker Publishing Group have launched a new online social site for Christian authors, touted as a “free, easy alternative to the self-publishing model.”

Now instead of sending rejection letters for unsolicited manuscripts, Zondervan and Baker will send authors an invitation to post their manuscripts on their new social publishing website.

This social publishing website is Authonomy.com and was started by Zondervan’s parent company HarperCollins in 2008. It has been expanded to have a specific Christian manuscript section – Authonomy.com/Christian.

Zondervan and Baker claim that having authors post their manuscripts on this site will “allow authors to quickly get valuable feedback from consumers on the relevance of their work and gain traction in the market without giving up any of their publishing rights.” They also claim that this new website is a way for Zondervan and Baker to discover and foster new writing talent.

Authors beware!

Authors serious about getting a manuscript published should be careful where they post their manuscript online for anyone to view. Open sites such as Authonomy.com mean two things for unpublished authors:

1.  You are giving your book away free of charge on the Internet.

Anyone can read a manuscript on Authonomy.com. Readers do not even need to log into the website to read a book. The manuscripts are open for anyone to read. Authors posting a manuscript on this website are giving the world access to their work, free of charge. At least with self-publishing, an author has an actual printed book or even ebook she can sell.

2.  You are giving your storyline to others for potential use and abuse.

Social publishing sites are great resources for others to get storylines for books. Manuscripts that are not published, give authors and even publishers ideas for storylines. Some unscrupulous publishers may find a good storyline on a social publishing site and then hire an author to write a similar book for them to publish. From my perusal of Authonomy.com, I found no copyright notices on the manuscripts posted or references to the manuscripts being copyrighted; although the site does allow users to report abuses.

My advice is authors should think twice before posting a manuscript to an open publishing site such as Authonomy.com.


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