A few months ago we at Underground Book Reviews were invited to participate in a new concept called Author Salon. Author Salon is a website with four goals:
1) Be the preferred source of discovery for literary agents, producers, and publishers 2) Serve as an online writers conference
3) Provide a work space for the writing community
4) Become a source for myth-free news and facts on the publishing industry.
Let me put it another way: If writing were like baseball, Author Salon takes you from the farm clubs to your first tryout with the Yankees. It doesn’t guarantee you a spot on the team, but it will show you how to hit, field, spit and wear the uniform like a big leaguer. This is how it works.
Joining Author Salon is intentionally detailed and time-consuming. This process forces you to delve deep into your manuscript and ask yourself serious question about your project. The profile is broken into four major sections: Project Notes and Query, Writer Bio and Goals, Plot and Story Matters, and Prose and Narrative Elements. A step-by-step guide, employing a disciplined methodology, leads authors through the rigorous process of building their profile. Ultimately, a well-honed profile is a standing query that clearly describes your book in a way that gets the right attention.
If Author Salon does anything, it teaches you how to pitch your novel and craft a solid query. The profile is about selling your book and selling yourself. Once you complete your draft profile the real work begins; now it’s time to tear it all down and start over in Author Connect.
After your initial profile is complete you’ll enter the world of Author Connect, Author Salon’s companion online workspace. Here you’ll collaborate with other writers in your genre to improve your profile and, by extension, your manuscript. This process begins with a “call for peers” where you invite other writers to critique your profile using a rigid methodology. You will also critique their work. These are NOT critiques of the novels, but of the profiles. How well do you understand and describe your novel? If done correctly, a feedback loop will emerge between your profile and your manuscript.
This improvement loop helps elevate your profile and manuscript to clearly defined standards. These standards are available to Author Salon members via guides, tutorials and templates. These critiques are painstaking, detailed, and often brutal in their honesty. Not only are your peers reviewing your profile, but so is Author Salon staff. Critiques are always professional and never personal. This is where the real learning occurs. You’ll probably discover you may have to rewrite your profile...and maybe even your whole novel.
As your profile and manuscript improves, you’ll eventually move up the Author Salon four-tiered system. These tiers indicate the quality of your profile and its readiness for both agents and publishers. You’ll enter Author Salon at “In Production I” and eventually progress up the ladder to “Marquee.” By Marquee-level, your profile has been through at least four rounds of peer critiques, peer votes, and an Author Salon advisor review. This process is neither quick nor easy. Patience is a must.
Here’s the pay-off and what makes Author Salon truly different. Agents and editors roam the virtual halls of Author Salon. While they likely concentrate on the projects at Marquee-level, they can tap anyone at any level at any time. It’s not a given, but you may just get your big break here. Even if you don’t, upon reaching Marquee-level, you can feel confident in your ability to pitch your manuscript.
Now that I told you what Author Salon is, I can tell you what it is not. It’s not a writing circle or review site for people who are tinkering with the idea of becoming writers. This is for serious work-to-publish authors. It’s for professionals; those who don’t follow the rules are shown the door. It is also not for the faint-of-heart or thin-skinned. Your peers and the site facilitators will be blunt. If you do not heed their advice, you don’t move up the tiers.
For those considering self-publication, I think Author Salon is a must. In Author Salon, you’ll learn how to write a hook line, a synopsis, define your conflict, and put your best samples on display. Author Salon is an excellent tool for any writer, regardless of desired publishing source.
Author Salon is still in early beta-testing with a small, but growing stable of writers. Like any emergent website, it’s still evolving. However, while it’s in beta-testing joining is free. After this widow closes it will cost $9.99 a month, or $79.00 a year, to join.
Only time will time will tell if Author Salon lives up to its potential, but so far it looks promising. We at the Underground will keep you posted as our journey continues.
You can find Author Salon here.
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