HarperCollins launches literary answer to MySpace

Publisher HarperCollins is launching a community site in an effort to mirror the success the music industry has enjoyed by talent-spotting unsigned acts on sites such as MySpace.

Authonomy.com will launch in the UK early next year and the company has plans to expand the web brand globally. It aims to duplicate the music industry’s use of social networking sites as a tool for discovering new talent and propelling unknown artists to success. The initiative will allow unpublished writers to upload manuscripts for readers to discuss, debate and recommend. Authors will also be able to create public profile pages for their work.

Readers will be encouraged to support manuscripts through a series of personal recommendations. The publishing house guarantees to “consider” the most popular works for publication.

HarperCollins expects many of the readers who sign up will be industry professionals looking for new talent.

It says the initiative will allow authors a new route to publication with a leading publishing house and a “genuine” base from which to build a long-term following online.

Earlier this year, rival publisher Penguin launched an online initiative in a bid to attract more teenage readers. Penguin partnered with social networking site Piczo to allow teenagers to design their own book front covers.

Penguin also partnered with De Montfort University in Leicester to launch an online writing “wiki”. It urged people to collectively join together to write a novel, called A Million Penguins, over the internet.

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