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Ask an Editor: So You Signed Up for Swoon Reads… Now What?

With over 200 manuscripts to choose from, it can be a little daunting for readers who are new to Swoon to decide where to start. We’ve had several people ask for reading recommendations, and while we don’t want to give anyone an unfair advantage by naming specific manuscripts or writers, we do have a couple of suggestions.

The obvious course of action is, of course, to make a beeline for the highest rated and most commented on manuscripts. And that’s a completely valid strategy. By all means, check them out and join in on the great conversations going on in their comments sections.  However, we’d like to take a moment to encourage all of our readers to also seek out manuscripts that haven’t gotten much feedback yet. Sadly, there are lot of writers on the site who only have a couple of ratings and comments, or even worse, haven’t gotten any feedback at all yet!

We try to dip into every single manuscript that is uploaded to the site. After all, if you are brave enough to share your work with us, we’d like to look at it, at least the first three chapters anyway, to give us an idea of whether or not we’d like to read more. And sometimes we’re surprised by how much we love manuscripts that have no comments and no ratings whatsoever! It’s a shame, and as much as we would LOVE to give everyone constructive criticism, we unfortunately can’t. (Again, we don’t want to give anyone an unfair advantage.) But we still read, and enjoy, and wonder why such good stories don’t see a lot of traffic.

The story could have been posted on the same day as multiple other manuscripts, shuffling it down the line before anyone really saw it, especially if one of those other manuscripts gained popularity very quickly. Or maybe the writer just isn’t that active on social media. The internet is a tough place to get noticed. It’s very easy to slip through the many cracks if an author doesn’t have the time, know-how or platform to reach more people to make their story’s existence known.

The majority of our writers aren’t professionals (yet!), so another hurdle blocking traffic to their manuscript could be a lackluster cover or an underwhelming description. (And really, no one is good at everything, this is why people need publishers!) Judging a book by its cover, or its summary, could keep you from discovering something you truly like, so give it a chance!

Of course, it’s possible that a manuscript has no ratings or comments because it simply didn’t connect with anyone, a sad state that could be attributed to just about anything, from unlikeable characters to weak writing. But the thing to remember is that all writers have to start somewhere, and all writers deserve (respectful) feedback. Especially if they are brave enough to share their work here on Swoon Reads! If a story didn’t float your boat, that’s perfectly fine, just take a minute and tell the author (and us!) why. We all know that old saying “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all,” but saying nothing won’t help that writer get better and learn the craft. We’re confident any writer would rather receive some constructive criticism with suggestions for improvement than nothing at all. Even if you only read three chapters, please write a quick comment explaining your initial thoughts and why it’s not working for you. Who knows? Maybe armed with your feedback, that writer could rework their book, resubmit and eventually be chosen for publication. Anything is possible!

If you really want your voice to be heard, speaking up where no one else has is a great place to start.

Have a question for our editors? Let us know in the comments below.

Author spotlight

Holly West

Senior Editor at Swoon Reads and Feiwel & Friends. Giant geek. Dedicated fangirl. Half-Elven Rogue Cleric. Also answers to That-Girl-Who-Reads-A-Lot.

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