November 7, 2012

Made It Moment: Yannis Karatsioris

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 1:46 pm

 

The Book Of The Forsaken

I often get into conversations, online and in-person, about different ways to break down the brick wall of publication. The appetite for such ways is as big as the world of writers, and so I’m happy whenever I learn about a new one.

Authonomy, a Big 6 (no, it’s not yet the Big 5, though it may well go that way) publisher’s introduction of crowd-sourcing to one group of submissions, particularly intrigued me. People often complain about the gatekeepers and what they miss. Some feel that readers must be the best judges of content, since they are the end-user when it comes to a book. If that’s true, then turning readers into assessors is a very smart thing to do indeed.

Below, please meet one author who decided to use Authonomy as his testing ground…with very interesting results.

Yannis Karatsioris

I was invited by Jenny to talk about my experience on Authonomy, the online platform for writers sponsored by HarperCollins UK. (*Thank you, Jenny!*)

This invite came as a result of me being an Editor’s Desk winner on Authonomy, meaning I got an award –a review from one of HC’s editors (and unofficially consideration for publication, too). But before I get into how I made it, and what happened along the way, I’d like to mention a few things about me.

One, I’m a non-native, Greek actually. And a young non-native at that, as I just turned 29.

This is the main reason I signed up for the authonomy experience. I wanted to see how good I am in respect to producing literature in a second language. I have already published a fantasy novel in Greece, have staged a play and won a national award for a fantasy novelette. But I wasn’t sure I had it in me to compete with native-plus-talented authors, aspiring as the case may be.

The second reason I chose authonomy and not another site for writers is that I’m a goal-oriented person and knew that I would do my best if there were something tangible at the end of the road. Being reviewed by HC felt tangible enough. So I registered and uploaded the 10k words that is the minimum for one to take part and go public.

The response to the story from the community was immediate and I hit #40 (out of six or seven thousand books at the time) within two months. The shining reviews made me doubt my earlier doubts, and I thought I actually had a chance. I won the gold medal this February, after six months of being reviewed by the members of the site.

I learned a good deal of things regarding the editing and/or revising of my manuscripts, I met great people, made a handful of friends, and I answered the question whether as a non-native writer I’m good enough to be read out of Greece.

After submitting the manuscript to thirty agents, (a low number for those who know how this works) only because I chose whom to submit to carefully, I got the too-well-known polite response twenty-something times, and two positive comments. I chose not to contact indie and other small publishers and just go with it on my own.

“The Book of the Forsaken” is available for less than a month now after being proofread and edited, both in Kindle format and as a paperback. And all one has to do is read the opening pages to see how different and engaging I hope the book is.

It has a long way to go, but as I said, I’m goal-oriented…

Yannis Karatsioris, Greek born and raised, is 29 years old and lives in Athens, Greece. He has staged a play, published a fantasy novel in Greek and, after winning the gold medal on HarperCollins’ competition on authonomy.com with The Book of the Forsaken, is now making his first steps in the publishing world out of Greece.

 






14 Comments »

  1. Good for you! Hope you continue to strive for that goal.

    Comment by mountainmama — November 7, 2012 @ 3:30 pm

  2. Excellent – how very exciting!

    Comment by Alison DeLuca — November 7, 2012 @ 5:20 pm

  3. Way to go! Hope you hit your mark.

    Comment by Kellie — November 7, 2012 @ 5:50 pm

  4. Yannis – I’ve wondered about Authonomy, and it’s good to hear your experience was so positive. I must say, I picked up your book just now, based on your post! Good Luck in your future!

    Comment by Connie J Jasperson — November 7, 2012 @ 10:33 pm

  5. Hello everyone! Thank you for the positivity :) And Connie, I hope you enjoy it! You can share your thoughts on it on Goodreads and on LibraryThing if you like :)

    Comment by Yannis Karatsioris — November 8, 2012 @ 3:10 am

  6. What can I say? authonomy has positive and negative sites. I joined 2009 and stayed (had a lot of fun) until 2011 as a very active member. The site is a great resource for new and more seasoned writers, packed with information and tips and tricks about writing and the publishing industry. However, the race to the desk is more a popularity contest than anything else. None of the books (when I was active) really had merit and I doubt it has changed. People exchange favours and cheat their way up to the top, accompanied by lots of arse kissing. If you need a confidence boost, yes, go and get a praise shower, but if you’re serious about writing, you need to get feedback from people who don’t hold punches.
    Admittedly, there are now groups on authonomy who exchange honest critiques, but they are only useful if you have a bit of experience and confidence in your writing; otherwise you’ll end up rewriting and adjusting to please them, not your readers, or yourself, for that matter.

    Anyway, good luck, Yannis. Greetings from another non-native author. Your cover looks stunning.

    Comment by Stella Deleuze — November 9, 2012 @ 1:53 pm

  7. Stella, your experience on authonomy is far from unusual. It’s what people told me would happen when I first joined, it’s what people (some anyway) still think of authonomy. I stayed out of the forums and stuck to learning and to polishing my manuscript (while keeping its bigger picture the way I like it, not falling in the trap that is “pleasing others”). In more than a few cases I had my writing torn apart by the editing of some people, and through this procedure I learned a ton.

    I know others like me who had the same experience, because in the end, in my opinion, authonomy is like any other literary site: you can get better if you’re there to work and not chat. Authonomy got the bad name not because things there, are unlike elsewhere, but because the Editor’s Desk made the site known, more than the rest. Crowd-thinking is the reason endeavours like authonomy get a bad name.

    Also, being one of the Editor’s Desk winners, I can assure you, no one can reach the desk just by “arse-kissing”, because it just doesn’t cut it. Especially not in six months and when you’re a non-native. You may name a few cases, and I may even agree with you, but that doesn’t mean the system authonomy has put together isn’t working, as these cases would probably total 5-10% of the overall number of ED’s winners. Arse-kissing is the last thing that will get someone to the desk.

    Maybe it’s me and my naivety, but I still think authonomy can make a difference in the literary world.

    Thanks for the compliment on the cover, Stella, good luck to you too :)

    Comment by Yannis Karatsioris — November 9, 2012 @ 7:19 pm

  8. It was my experience when I started out, early 2009. I had fun on the forum, but I also worked on my book. I can honestly say that the comments on my books didn’t help me much; it was the forum with its huge pool of information, threads about writing, etc. I also met wonderful people who became friends I’ve met in person.
    And believe me, arse-kissing and reading, or leaving comments on other people’s books got you to the desk. I wasn’t interested in the race, I wanted to improve my writing and that’s what I did, but I observed those who made a run for the desk. They didn’t have stars back then, and a different system in place.
    All I’m saying is try to use authonomy as a source of information and work on your book in the meantime. If your book makes it to the desk without any effort on your part, good; if not, then fine, too. So far, from what I remember, none of the books reaching the ED have been published. HC picks their books from the lower ranks.

    Comment by Stella Deleuze — November 10, 2012 @ 6:18 am

  9. This is a great discussion. Stella, John, everyone, thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    I am very glad the site yielded the result it did for John.

    Do you guys think there could be a better way to approach the problem Authonomy is trying to solve, one that wouldn’t entail popularity, you-scratch-my-back elements?

    Stella, what did you mean about HC picking their books from the lower ranks?

    Comment by jenny — November 10, 2012 @ 4:13 pm

  10. Hey, Jenny, sorry for getting back this late.

    What I mean is that Harper Collins has picked up books that were in the lower ranks, not in the top 10. Some were even as low as in the two thousands or lower, if I remember correctly. Miranda Dickinson was the first to be picked up, that was before I joined. And after that a few while I was active, but most authors weren’t active on the forum. Apart from Janie who wrote non-fiction.
    Authonomy is e-publishing now, if I’m not wrong it’s 2 or 3 books up to date who have a been published with the new outlet.

    I find the whole ED a bit ridiculous and would say get rid of it. But then the pull for the site would be no more. There have been soooo many threads in the past on how to change the system and what they could do to make it better, but the site is not really to flush out the latest talent; it’s an online slushpile. Nothing wrong with that as long as writers don’t sign up with false hopes.

    Comment by Stella Deleuze — November 14, 2012 @ 5:43 pm

  11. Thanks for the reply, Stella. I find that fascinating because in some ways, though we keep trying to find ways not to have a “slush pile,” whether over the transom, or weeded by interns, or made into a crowd-sourced site, we keep coming back to one. IS there any way around?

    Comment by jenny — November 15, 2012 @ 9:54 am

  12. Probably not. Currently, Amazon is the biggest Slushpile. Unfortunately, it’s readers who have to wade through it.

    Just a quick mention again re Authonomy, and it’ll be an unpleasant comment:

    I’ve seen plenty of people who reached the desk or were highly praised by the authonomy crowd, being told that the book is sooooo amazing, and they would buy it in an instant. I’ve even heard it myself back the days.
    When those authors then self-publish, only a handful of those who were full of praise beforehand buy the books they LOVED so much.

    Says it all, really.

    Comment by Stella Deleuze — November 16, 2012 @ 7:24 am

  13. Really enjoyed your post Yannis and I wish you every success in your new language. You are so brave, most of us native speakers find English difficult so my hat goes off to you.

    Thanks for sharing your story with us and I hope to read your work soon.

    Thanks Jenny for enabling me to find out about Yannis. Great blog as usual.

    Comment by Jane Risdon — November 16, 2012 @ 12:00 pm

  14. Jane, thanks for the support :)

    Stella, which and how many books HC picks up to be published is irrelevant, since no one is promised anything other than a thorough review from an HC editor. HarperCollins and their imprints receive submission in the thousands through the year (and this year they opened up to unsolicited submissions for 2 weeks, they got 6-7k submissions…)
    What is relevant however, is that many authonomy winners have been contacted by agents and publishers. And some got a contract and a publishing deal out of it. Their stories on the way to be published may not be glamorous, and their advances on royalties (if any) may not be enough to quit their day jobs, but the fact that they were noticed on authonomy, whether an Editor’s Desk winner or lower in the ranks, remains an undoubtful one.

    “Tribesman” by Paul Freeman, “Vein Fire” by Lucia Adams, “Blown to Smithereens” by Rena Rossner are just a few of the examples I’m aware of.

    As for people buying a book that won the authonomy competition after having backed it to the top, I can assure you, they do. I didn’t campaign on authonomy for people to buy The Book of the Forsaken, which means I could have more sales through the site’s members, but people who bought it contacted me about it and I confirmed the sale.

    On another note, I’d like to add that apart from authonomy, “The Book of the Forsaken” has done quite well on Goodreads. I’m sure most of you are aware of the site and here is the link to the book so that you can see for yourself how well or bad the book is doing:
    http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15739212-the-book-of-the-forsaken

    Thank you again, Jenny, for the opportunity to connect with people interested in knowing how some of us “make it” or at least fight towards that end :) I would be happy to listen to any thoughts you might have on the matter, or at anything else that might come to mind.

    All the best to everyone,

    Yannis

    Comment by Yannis Karatsioris — November 21, 2012 @ 6:52 am

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