Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Guest Spot: Carl Ashmore tells us how it feels to have the most successful book of all time on the Authonomy website...

We are delighted to have Carl guest for us at Strictly.  So without any further preamble,  let's find out a bit more about how he got to where he is today...

Who are you?

My name is Carl Ashmore and I’m an aspiring writer for children. I live in Crewe, Cheshire with my partner, Lisa, my one year old daughter, Alice, and a very round, grumpy Cheshire cat that flatly refuses to adhere to the stereotype.

‘The Time Hunters’ is my first novel and is about a teenage girl who discovers her reclusive uncle is a time traveller and becomes involved in a murder/mystery and a quest through time for the Golden Fleece. I am proud to say ‘The Time Hunters’ become the most successful book of all-time on the Harper Collins website www.authonomy.com and won a Harper Collins review in July.

What is Authonomy?

It’s a networking site for writers across the world and an online arena for critiquing work and sharing ideas. There are thousands of books uploaded at any one time and each month, the top five most popular books are selected for a review by an editor from Harper Collins.

What made you join Authonomy?

I was exploring writing websites and happened to stumble across Authonomy. It was never a conscious decision to join a site like it but I’m thrilled I did.

What other routes to publication have you tried?

Agents, mainly. With ‘The Time Hunters’ I had four requests to send ‘fulls’ and one offer of representation from an agency I chose to reject (for very good reasons). I tried one publisher ‘The Chicken House’ and they requested to see a full (this was when they accepted unsolicited submissions) but didn’t pursue it. The feedback from the agents was positive but did highlight issues I have since addressed.

Would you consider Self-Publishing?

I may well do. My dream has always to been to go the traditional route but I’m aware the publishing industry is changing. The development of new technologies (Kindle etc) and the ways readers are accessing books means that it would be rather silly to dismiss it outright. To be honest, I think many literary stars of the future will come from the self-publishing route.

How have you found Authonomy?

I enjoyed it enormously. Authonomy is merely a microcosm of life. Some writers are hugely giving of their time and experience and others are somewhat self-obsessed, egotistical and rather curt. It would be easy to be cynical about Authonomy (many are) but personally, I avoided such cynicism and concentrated on reading/commenting on the work of others and embracing the feedback on my work. I made a good friend in Mel Comley (a fellow gold star winner) and she offered to do an edit of my full MS, giving advice she’d received from other Authonomites. The process becomes a circular one. What I learn today, I pass on tomorrow.

Where did you get your pretty book cover from?

I’m a lecturer in film and media at a college. A friend and colleague of mine, Henryk Szor, created my cover after reading the book. ‘The Time Hunters’ is an adventure that fuses history with mythology (characters include a friendly Minotaur, Will Scarlet etc) and the main time machine is a 1963 Volkswagen campervan. Henryk liked the scene where the campervan is attacked by two Harpies in Ancient Crete and visualised it for the cover. Henryk’s work can be seen on www.henrykszor.com.


What advice would you give aspiring Authors considering using Authonomy?

Don’t expect the site to be the answer to all your publishing dreams. Only join if you’re committed to improving your book and not just because you want to win the Harper Collins review. The journey is what’s important, not gaining the gold star and review. I know ‘The Time Hunters’ is a considerably better book than when I joined because I listened to the advice of others. Treat the site and other writers with respect and it can be a valuable tool for self-improvement. It also increases your visibility on a world-wide stage and if you’re lucky, you may be spotted by an agent (this has happened to a number of Authonomites) or publisher.


What are your plans for the future?

Whilst I wait for my Harper Collins review, I intend to use the success on Authonomy to try and gain an agent. I’m also writing another children’s book ‘The Angel Prophecy’ about a very special thirteen year old boy embroiled in an ancient war between a modern Knights Templar and Hell demons.

I have also written two other children’s books for a younger audience ‘Bernard and the Bibble’ and ‘The Night they Nicked Saint Nick’ which will be re-edited as a result of the advice I’ve received from my time on Authonomy.

Most importantly, I have a beautiful one year old daughter who I am try to get interested in reading. So far, she has successfully destroyed a copy of ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ (which she smeared in chocolate) and tore out five pages of ‘Treasure Island’ and buried them under the couch. She may not be reading yet but I’m delighted she’s embracing the spirit of the books.

The link to the Time Hunters is:
http://www.authonomy.com/books/16708/the-time-hunters/

Carl can be contacted on carlashmore@mailcity.com

9 comments:

Helen Black said...

Hi Carl.
Wilst I don't wish to piss on your chips, and hope you have every success with your writing, I do have an issue with the Authonomy model, in that the writers who rise up through the ranks seem to be playing a tit for tat game.

They also seem to be the ones that spend an inordinate amount of hours playing said game.

They're not neccessarily the 'best' writers.

Don't you think writers would be better off spending their time writing?
HB x

Caroline Green said...

I don't know anything much about Authonomy but think the book sounds great and I love the cover. Very best of luck, Carl!

Carl Ashmore said...

Hi Helen,

I'd prefer my chips with salt and vinegar, thanks, but I do take your point. What you are saying is valid, but not necessarily true. As I say in the interview, many people have different strategies and I can only really talk about how I saw it. The simple fact is, because of the comments on Authonomy my book improved considerably. I was constantly editing as a result of what others had said. Therefore, I was always writing and improving the MS.

Personally, I don't think anyone should join Autho until your MS is as good as you can make it. However, fresh eyes can really be beneficial and certainly helped me.

As for the 'best' writers comment you made. Well, that is subjective anyway. Certainly the model is open to abuse and it is something of a game, but one that can help a write improve a great deal and that can only be a good thing.
Cheers,
Carl

Oh, and thanks, Caroline.x

Keris Stainton said...

Hi Carl. Congratulations on your Authonomy success. Your book sounds really interesting. I hope the Harper Collins review is helpful.

And your daughter's gorgeous. I read a book a while ago about developing a love of reading in children and tearing out pages/smearing with chocolate was positively encouraged, so you're definitely on the right lines :)

Luisa Plaja said...

I love the sound of your book and I found this post really interesting. Wishing you all the best with everything!

Clodagh said...

Hi Carl,

Congratulations on your Authonomy success! I have no experience of Authonomy, but I think it pays to be open and find what works for you.

Your book sounds fun - best of luck with it!

(And your cat sounds great - I like a cat with attitude.)

Fionnuala said...

I'm all for using any tools possible available to writers and though I've not personally used Authonomy because I DO think its time consuming - my brother did and successfully bagged himself an agent from the process - so it definitely works for some people!
Best of luck with the review Carl and I wish you every success with your writing.

Anonymous said...

I have recently joined Authnomy and will soon upload my first 10,000 words. I have been on other similar sites with mixed feelings, but I felt it's was worth a go and I'm pleased to read that your experience was positive.

Anonymous said...

Great post! You may want to follow up on this topic :P