Editorial by Monica Landers
AUSTIN, TEXAS: Coming from the tech world, I’ve often heard former colleagues—the type of people who clamor to use the latest software or app for work and play—accuse the publishing industry of being “too resistant” to technology and change. But they are wrong.
Rather than a resistance to what’s new, I have actually found the opposite. In launching AUTHORS.me, I’ve discovered an intense loyalty to a process that has created masterpieces for decades. This passion and love for books has made some in publishing concerned about adopting anything that looks or operates differently. But there’s a big difference between passion for the end result and resistance to change, and I’ll defend the agents and publishers on this one.
AUTHORS.me is an online platform for queries, manuscript submissions and acquisitions discovery geared to benefit writers, agents, and publishers in equal measure. We streamline the entire process. In September, we announced our preview release of AUTHORS and plan for a full launch in the Spring. In the meantime, we’re getting great reviews from our launch partners and bringing new publishers, agents and writers on board every month.
Early in the company’s growth, I experienced this wonderful transition in my conversations with agents and publishers that went something like this:
I’d tell them that AUTHORS was looking to simplify the manuscript submission and query process, basically taking it out of email and other systems and centralizing it in one tool with an easy-to-use dashboard. They’d say, “We’ve seen that before. It won’t work,” or “People have tried that in the past.”
Then, when I actually showed them what AUTHORS does, I’d hear, “Oh, I didn’t imagine that!” Or my favorite response: “It’s like looking into the future!”
Now the cynical person might say that I’m just a poor communicator, and that could very well be true, but I believe that what we’re doing is so fresh and new that people have to wrap their heads around it a bit.
So who are our early adopters? We discovered that many of them were also early adopters for another great platform that supports the submission process, called Submittable. Submittable proved that much is gained by automating the painful parts of submissions, including tracking and communication. They’ve done a good job of simplifying the submissions process for publishers, and have done it with an upgrade in technology that makes it a good decision for thousands of users.
The biggest difference the publishers see with AUTHORS is that we are built for literary publishing, a much more targeted niche. The key features that are important to agents are publishers are easier to find and review. Despite the conveniences of fields and forms, the writers’ work is reflected as a work of art and the writer’s distinct personality is clear. Instead of a bulk upload of information (like a query letter in email or a form field with everything important in one text file), we gather each piece of important information and index it separately. This means publishers can review a standard format from writers which speeds up and simplifies the review process tenfold, without limiting the writers’ creativity and personality.
With AUTHORS.me agents and publishers can:
- search specific content and author requirements like educational degrees or comparative titles;
- filter on specific criteria like word count or subgenre;
- receive all the information from writers in the first delivery.
Best of all, AUTHORS brings all the conversations and valuable information together to allow easy collaboration and tracking. The readers’ notes, salesperson’s recommendations, emails to the writer, and publisher’s ratings are all connected and easy to access from an easy-to-use dashboard.
We have been working closely with our partners to ensure that the features we build support the industry and support great books. From developers to marketers, every AUTHORS.me employee is closely connected to our publisher partners to help us best understand their needs, from making the comment section larger, to adjusting notifications and access.
We want to help agents and publishers, and we want to build technology around their need. Our publishing partners will be the first to attest to that. We are well aware that no one wants a technology group dictating how a publishing company should operate! This means that the AUTHORS you see doesn’t have to be all you get, and it means we’re constantly figuring out new applications. The results have been amazing.
While AUTHORS streamlines submissions management for agents and publishers, we’re also built for the writer. They have put up with a lot through the years. Writers jump through all sorts of hoops to get their work published, and they want to know, “Is this safe?” and, “Is this going to get me published?”
Ironically, writers feel comfortable submitting their manuscript through email and having publishers store it in all sorts of various systems. There’s no one in technology who will tell you this is safe. The fact that we track views and downloads and take other security measure proves AUTHORS provides more security and information than just clicking “send” on an email.
Only months out of the gate, writers were online with all sorts of suspicions. I don’t take it personally. I know they are fed up with the system and with companies making promises they can’t deliver. It’s not enough to just say, “We’re different!” This is why AUTHORS brings more transparency to the experience, and like our publishers, we expect writers will work with us so that we can grow into the strong support engine that they need.
More to Come from AUTHORS.me
Ultimately publishers will have the opportunity to not only search and pre-filter their own submissions. They also get access to a larger submission pool of writers who choose to register themselves and their work on AUTHORS Discovery Database. AUTHORS is only is it’s soft launch, yet in just these few months, 58 writers were “discovered” and are in some phase of talks with agents or publishers — and 11 book deals are signed.
AUTHORS has a long list of features still to build and probably things you can find wrong with the platform, but we actively request feedback from our writers and partners. We therefore invite you to keep an eye on AUTHORS.me and join us. Our mission is to help our partners create fun books to read, smart books to educate, and transformative books to change the world. As someone who has been steeped in technology and media, I am beyond thrilled to have now joined the publishing industry, supporting something I love—great books and the people who make them!
AUTHORS.me is offering a special for readers of Publishing Perspectives: The next ten agents or publishers to sign up will receive 12 months free. Sign up here.
Monica Landers is Founder and CEO of AUTHORS, Inc., an online service improving the lives of writers, agents, and publishers. Beginning her career producing for ABC News with Peter Jennings and Good Morning America, Monica then jumped into the business of building Internet companies, blending content creation with content management and distribution for global solutions.