Okay, I'm just going to warn you that I'll probably be raving about the Authonomy site for a while, as I've just joined it and it's all still new and exciting to me...
To all new/aspiring authors out there - if you're unsure of your work, or if you want some feedback on it, or if you just want to get out there and make new author friends, I cannot recommend Authonomy enough. It's a website by Harper Collins, where you can upload your novel, read and review other people's novels and talk to other authors on the forum. Also, if your novel is good enough (I don't know exactly how this process works, so bear with me) it can end up being reviewed by the good people at HC, and maybe even land you a book deal! (But I'd seriously research that....don't just take my word for it!)
I know how scary it can be putting your 'baby' out there for all to see - but as an author, you've got to get used to people reading your work and, in most cases, giving you advice on how to improve it. It is hard. Believe me, I know. When I first uploaded one of my short stories to the site, I was terrified - what is everyone hated it? What if people told me it was utter rubbish and I should give up my dream of becoming an author?
Even though I was so scared everyone would hate it, I did it anyway. Because I knew that my story was far from perfect, and I needed some constructive criticism to tell me which direction to go in. As an author, you have to be able to take a step back and say 'okay, what do I need to improve?' and it can be hard seeing your own mistakes when you're so involved with your novel....which is why Authonomy is such a fantastic site for authors.
The first time I got an email telling me that someone had left a comment on my book, I immediately panicked. I was certain that they would hate it, and that they had said something incredibly mean about my work, which would make me cry. Luckily, that wasn't the case. The person who reviewed it had been so lovely - she said how much she had enjoyed it, and gave me a few tips on how to improve. The next person said the same - and although she had more to say on how I could improve it, I didn't mind. Because I knew that without that criticism, I wouldn't be able to improve as an author. And once she pointed out small mistakes (and in one case, a fairly big one), I knew exactly what to do to change my story.
I am so grateful for everyone who has commented on my work so far, and I'm currently in the process of editing my story, complete with all the revisions people have suggested so far. I'm really looking forward to putting it back on the site and seeing what people have to say again. Although this is the internet, and you will get people who will slate your work just because they can hide behind a computer screen while they do it, for the most part authors on the Authonomy site genuinely want to help each other out. And I cannot thank them enough for all the help they've given me so far - both with suggestions for my book, and backing my idea to blog about Authonomy books on here.
So what are you waiting for? Get over there, and start your own Authonomy journey!
(Sorry, couldn't resist the ultimate cheesy line...)