Editorial Process: A Little Something Extra

As you know, here at Swoon Reads we only publish books that both we and you, the crowd, have fallen head over heels in love with. We know that all of our books (and authors!) are special and amazing, and to celebrate that we try to add a little something extra to the back of each of them. I like to think of it as a gift to our readers, because you totally deserve a nice surprise for finding and loving our books!

So, at some point during the editorial process, usually around the line edits/copy edit stage, I’ll contact the author with a long email, asking them to help us put together some bonus material for the back of the book.

Pick up any final copy of a published Swoon Reads novel (You all DO have those lying around, right?) and flip to the back. There will be one page that stands out as a little darker than the others. This is the intro page to the Swoonworthy Extras.

What do we mean by Swoonworthy Extras? Well, they can include a lot of different things:

– There’s usually a “Coffee Date” interview between me and the author. We call it this because during the first one, Sandy and I literally went out for Starbucks coffee while we chatted. And, to honor the tradition, I always try to have some kind of coffee or tea with me while I’m chatting with the authors whether it’s in person or over Google Hangouts. (I really like Google Hangouts. It’s so nice to be able to see the authors, even if they do live in a different state or country.) To make this easier, I start with a basic set of questions, and then personalize them to match the author or book. So, if you have any burning questions you’d like to ask our authors, PLEASE let me know and I’ll add them to my list!  

– Sometimes we will add a set of discussion questions. These are meant to be a starting point for book clubs who might want to talk about the books. I have to admit that I find writing discussion questions a bit tricky. Honestly, there’s kind of an art to coming up with great discussion questions, and it’s not really one of my skills. A great discussion question needs to be both specific enough that it’s tied to the book and open ended enough that it can spark a discussion. Questions that can be answered with yes or no or even a single sentence are generally not what you are looking for. Also, you have to try to be objective with them, and not slant them toward any of your own biases, since every reader is different and great discussions come from people looking at the same thing and having two different interpretations. I completely understand this intellectually, but I also obviously feel VERY strongly about each of our books and have REAMS of opinions that are hard for me to be objective about. It’s part of being a professional fangirl. *wink* But, sometimes the perfect discussion question just falls into your lap, and that can be a LOT of fun… So, over to you, do you like having discussion questions in the back of a book? How many of you are in bookclubs that use them?

Then, because I always feel a bit lost at the end of a great book, we like to include an excerpt from another fabulous Swoon Reads title, just to give readers a sneak peek at what their NEXT great read could be. Picking these out is a LOT more fun than coming up with discussion questions, although I occasionally get overwhelmed for choice. 

– And FINALLY, we have my FAVORITE type of swoonworthy extra: special book specific bonus content that the author creates especially for us. In Save Me, Jenny gave us some of the recipes that Cara cooked. In Love Fortunes and Other Disasters, Kim shared Sebastian’s dating rules. In Signs Point to Yes, Sandy gave us Jane’s list of Doctor Who episodes that Teo MUST watch. (Emily and I fangirled over that one for a while, as I possibly – read TOTALLY – have a picture of David Tenant as the 10th Doctor taped on the wall above my computer, while Emily is an Eleven girl through and through. Fun times.) And, I’m not going to spoil them, but you are going to LOVE some of the extras that are coming your way in 2016!

What kind of extras would you like to see? Any questions you want me to ask the authors for you? And do you use discussion questions when they are in the back of the book? Inquiring minds want to know!

And in case you missed the previous entries for this series:

"Don't Panic!": First Draft Revisions

– “Great Job, Let’s Do It Again!”: Second (and Sometimes Third) Draft Revisions

– “Little Changes Have BIG Effects”: Line Edits

– “Someone Else Needs to Look at This”: Copyedits

– “Across the Pond”: The Swoon Editorial Process in the U.K.

– “Oops! Missed that!”: Proofreads

"Are We Done Yet?": Pass Pages

Every weekday in November, we’ll be including a super special writing prompt at the end of all our blog posts! Check out today’s:

Writing prompt 11.3

About the author - Holly West

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

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