I recently joined a website which I would categorize as a mix of online conference, peer critique, and matchmaking with agents and editors. Author Salon provides writers with the visibility and promotion necessary to get them “published by major players in the business.” It's a Literary Social Network.
Why a site like this has taken this long to come into being, I don’t know, but thank goodness it's here! It’s a terrific way to be part of a committed, talented group of writers, receive valuable critique, and make you and your book visible to the agents and editors looking for new work and new voices.
At present, membership is free because the site is in Beta testing, but only for a short time, then it’s $9.99 per month with a portion of the fee going to Smile Train, a charity created for children born with clefts.
Once you become a member, you fill out an extensive profile, which takes a couple of hours (so don’t start this on your lunch hour at work). The profile includes details about your book such as word count, genre, comparables, synopsis, hook, conflict, protagonist, unique world, and climax/denouement. You also provide the first two pages, about 20 lines of your best dialogue, and two short prose samples. There is also a section for your bio and background, your writing life, what inspired the book, and what you’re reading. In this way, you give an agent or editor a sense of who you are, your work, and your platform.
That said, you don’t have to be an accomplished writer to join the site, but you should be committed to becoming one, which includes honing your craft and building your platform.
And you have to be committed to the Author Salon process because it is rigorous.
There are three phases: In Production, Editor Suite, and Marquee Lounge.
During the In Production phase writers friend each other and ask five people in their genre to critique their profile. Once they receive a certain rating or above, the writer moves to the Editor Suite phase where the same process takes place, and 50 pages of one’s work is also exchanged with another set of five reviewers. Each writer reads the work of five others he or she has agreed to work with and critiques and ratings take place again.
In the third level, the Marquee Lounge, the writer’s profile is now open to the agents and editors looking for work to represent or publish.
This ensures that only those who are committed to the process, not just of Author Salon, but of writing a great, marketable book, make it to the final level because along the way writers are told by their peers and Author Salon staff what works, what doesn't work, and what needs to be developed further - while they can still do something about it - and before an agent or publisher shuts the door in their face.
There are several wonderful aspects of Author Salon.
First: The people. I’ve met friendly, creative, determined writers on this site. Their critique comments are well thought through and demonstrate how seriously they take the process and how much they have engaged with my work. Every genre is represented here: young adult, middle grade, fantasy, sci fi, narrative nonfiction, general nonfiction, fiction (women’s upscale, literary, historical), thriller, mystery, detective, romance, paranormal romance. I know I’m missing some. Whatever you write – it’s in here and there are plenty of other people in your genre ready to sign on to work with you.
Second: It’s professional. The structure, the content, the feedback. Weak and poorly filled out profiles are not approved for membership. You can’t be half-assed here. You have to mean it. You have to more than mean it actually! This site asks you to be ALL IN. So you have to ask yourself: How much do I want to be published? Then give it everything you’ve got because the site requires no less of you and you should require the same of yourself. Otherwise you're wasting your time and everyone else’s.
Third: The tech factor. There is a forum for chatting and for the critique process. There are audio and visual components so you can post a book trailer or a recorded reading you gave (video or audio). You can send email via a profile link within the system, but also start private conversations in the forum itself. You also have a personal blog tab on your profile.
Fourth: Expert bloggers. There’s a whole section where writers, editors, agents, anyone and everyone associated with the biz have been invited to blog. You can find anything you want to know in this section. Recently, Author Salon itself posted an article on how to write the six act novel.
Did I mention that the biggest and best agents and editors are there? They’ve sold books to or work for Random House, Viking, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Little Brown and more. Maybe they are looking for a book just like yours.
Convinced yet? Check it out yourself: Author Salon.
See you there.