Swoon Reads

The best way to explain Swoon Reads is as a public querying platform where readers influence agents on what to publish. The agents behind of this site are from MacMillan Publishing.

Swoon Reads publishes under Feiwel & Friends, an imprint of Macmillan.

https://www.swoonreads.com/about/

Writers: The platform was initially for YA Manuscripts only but now also accepts NA. The MS must be the writers original work and posted as an exclusive query to Swoon Reads for at least 6 months. One uploaded, it cannot be edited – that would be a new submission.

Readers: Site members read Manuscripts that appeal to them. They can comment to give the writer feedback with ideas for improvement or how much they loved it! Readers rate stories.

My History

Back in January 2014, I uploaded a copy of Drift to Swoon Reads. Drift was first drafted in Dec 2009, so I’d spent about 3 years working on it and thought it was ready to be queried.

The idea of readers choosing my book really appealed. At first, I got lots of positive ratings and excitedly awaited an agent to notice… and, I waited… and, I waited… and, after 6 months I returned to the traditional query trenches.

As you know, Drift has changed a lot in the last 10 years.

  • Was 24 chapters, then 36 chapters, now 30 chapters
  • Prologue cut
  • Merged with book 2
  • Changed character names
  • Given Ana (formerly Annie) a bigger role
  • Added a full mermaid shift
  • Added an epic battle
  • Changed the ending
  • Professional edit (twice) plus the countless self edits
  • Renamed as Ocean Heart

I uploaded Drift to Swoon Reads in January 2013. I got quite a few votes which moved my book into the top three most voted at the time. I thought this was pretty impressive as I didn’t have a huge social circle and my social media was limited to who I knew in real life, and I was too shy to tell them to go read my novel.

Despite the attention I got from readers, the agents never showed any interest. I don’t even know if they read it. But, the books they chose were always well deserving brilliant stories.

Moving on

After 6 months, you are free to leave your book on their site in hopes an agent will stumble across it and fall in love. I saw no harm in doing this.

I then queried and pitched other literary agents and publishers. I entered competitions. I did everything I could think to get my MS in their hands. Until, I realised, I could self publish.

This year, I’ve been working hard towards self publishing and in August, I got a strange message on Tumblr. They claimed to be a publisher that had seen ‘Drift’ on Swoon Reads and were interested.

Hmm…

One reason to Self Publish is there are lots of con artists about. Most reputable agents or publishers are so busy with manuscripts sent directly to them that they are not crawling the web looking for authors. They certainly wouldn’t use another publishers platform to poach authors.

I ignore them but it did remind me that my book is on Swoon Reads. I began to panic about their rules and if it’d affect my self publishing- eek.

They are a publisher that have built a good reputation for themselves so I hoped when I explained the situation they’d take my book down quickly. I explained:

  • Drift was uploaded in 2013
  • I’m self publishing but…
  • It has been edited a lot (characters names and plot changes)
  • Has a new title – Ocean Heart
  • Has a new cover

It was anxious for their reply. When I heard nothing I logged on and found it was gone. I’m no longer an author on Swoon Reads.

Comments

Readers can make comments on stories to encourage you or help the writer develop. Swoon Reads does warn writers to save these before taking an MS down otherwise they’ll be lost. I took screenshots. Here they are:

There will be, but book 2 is from Kiely’s perspective and much darker.

Tarot has done a great job of summarising Mariah (aka Lily) first love. Yes, I’m going to indulge you in a whole series based in the world of shifters.

Thanks Mike – met on WeBook a writing platform that no longer exists but where Drift was first posted online!

Mike, it’s evolved more! It’s got even better! No longer a twinge of magic, there’s even an epic battle.

I love comments like this. 💛

Yay! Thank you x

You’ll be pleased to know that prologue is long gone. Lol 😂

Thank you so much Debbie, I’m glad you loved my twist on magic.

Wow! This makes me want to happy dance.

Hopefully you won’t have to wait much longer as I’m working on Sky Heart (book 2) for 2021.

Thanks Anni. I’m working hard to make sure book 2 is just as awesome.

Do I recommend Swoon Reads?

Yeah. It’s been a positive experience for me. I didn’t get published but I did get useful feedback and encouragement from readers.

Ocean Heart

Drift has evolved and transformed into Ocean Heart. The comments above are by readers of the 2013 version.

These comments make me so happy. Whenever I get nervous about putting Ocean Heart out into the big bad world, these readers sweet words make me feel braver.

Soul Heart Readers

I’ve created a Facebook group for my Street Team, basically my first fans.

They’ll be first to hear how Ocean Heart is coming along, be offered ARCs and to be part of my virtual book tour, plus more…

If this is something you’d like to be part of, come join us in the Soul Heart Readers Facebook Group.

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org shop link.

[kofi]

If you enjoyed this post, you will like:

Soul Heart Readers – Street Team

Why you need a developmental editor!

Why I have chosen to Self Publish

Writers Beware: Know who you are querying

YouTube: A Bookish Surprise

I was so fortunate to be part of Sarah Sutton’s Street Team. I got an ARC copy of Out Of My League which I loved and had no idea she was going to surprise me with this…

A Bookish Surprise

Check out my YouTube video where I open this gorgeous gift from Sarah. Now I have a real copy of Out Of My League! And, a good reason to buy What Are Friends For?

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org shop link.

[kofi]

If you enjoyed this, you’ll love:

Book Review: Out of my League by Sarah Sutton

Behind the Book: Out of my League by Sarah Sutton

Behind the Book: What Are Friends For? By Sarah Sutton

Find your Summer Reads in the latest WIW Brochure

How NOT to start a novel!

Please don’t worry about these when you are writing your first drafts. Your first draft will be messy and ugly and full of cringe-worthy writing.

When writing your first draft just get the words out but when polishing it up look out for these cliches and cut them out. I hope this list is useful for you.

1. Waking up

Nobody wants to hear about your characters morning routine. We don’t want to know what they do in the bathroom, how they make & eat their breakfast, or what they pick out to wear and how they get dressed.

If you start with your character waking up, something epic needs to happen and not their usual boring morning routine.

If they wake up to an alien invasion, I’m pretty they won’t be worrying about what to wear but the reader will be right there with then running down the street screaming in their pyjamas.

2. False starts

So, you throw your reader into a beautiful dream or terrifying nightmare. The reader has no idea this isn’t real. Then, they wake up and the reader feels cheated.

You may have drawn them in but only to disappoint them. This is only acceptable if it has a purpose, like if Freddy Kruger is the antagonist.

Don’t trick your reader into spending time reading your story only to reveal they wasted their time. They won’t thank you for it and might even quit reading more.

3. Characters

At the start of the book you want readers to connect with the MC quickly. If they’re confused who the MC is, that isn’t going to happen.

Make sure it’s clear who the main character is. This is the person that will take the reader through the story. Don’t hide the MC as a surprise later.

While on the topic of characters, please don’t give them multiple names – it’s confusing. Don’t have you character Elizabeth also called Liz, Lizzie, Beth, Eliza, Babe, Buttercup, etc. I did read a story on Wattpad where someone did this and I lost count of the MC’s various names by the end of chapter 1.

Don’t waste the readers time aquainting them in depth with a character that doesn’t contribute to the overall story. If they are not important, don’t include it.

You can introduce characters during the story but don’t dump them all in chapter one. Don’t overwhelm your reader with a massive cast so there head is spinning with all the names.

4. Point of view

Be consistent. Readers will get comfortable reading in a certain POV and when it changes it takes them out. This is why writing dual or multiple character viewpoints is tricky as you don’t want to lose the reader but also need to keep their voice authentic.

Keeping your characters voice authentic is important and true to what they know or understand. Think about unreliable narrators. You may find another character is better suited as your MC or the story is told better via another POV.

5. World building

Creating realistic and vivid worlds will suck your reader in but don’t drown them in the details. Bogging them down with lengthy descriptions or explanations about the dynamics is going to kill it.

You need to show them the world, let them see, feel, taste and smell it. Put the reader in the world so they live it. Weave it into what’s happening.

If you want to write beautiful prose about nature, stick to poetry.

6. Over-explaining

Give your reader some credit, they’re not stupid. Trust them to fill in the gaps. Show the character living in the story and your reader will figure how things are based on the interactions.

Don’t use dialogue as an info dump. It really doesn’t work. Conversation aren’t showing, if you’re using it as a vice for telling the reader.

7. Fancy language

Okay, so we just covered how smart your readers are, however, they aren’t going to stick around if reading your novel is a vocabulary workout.

Too many complex words will kill the flow of your story. If the reader has to keep stopping, to figure out what they’ve read, you’ll lose them. You don’t want your readers to groan at the thought of reading your story.

In addition, be cautious about using made up words. You may have created new creatures, profession and even a new language, but if your reader needs a translator to make sense of your story, it’s too much hard work.

8. Too comfortable

Any scene that is too cosy isn’t going to compell the reader to keep going. Something needs to happen, something has to grab their interest.

Preferably a terrible conflict that makes your reader get behind your MC and follow them to the end of the story. You need to start with action.

9. Start in the present

The problem with prologues is they take place before your story starts. Many people skip reading them.

Also, using backstory or flash forwards are not great starts because your reader hasn’t developed a relationship with your character so they don’t care about their past or future.

These can have the same impact as a false start if they’re not necessary.

10. Rules are made to be broken

All the above have been associated with losing the reader but there are occasions when it does work.

If you feel strongly that your story needs multiple view points or it’s crucial the MC wakes from a dream, then do it. After all, it is your story.

I made a fun infographic:

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Behind the Book: Out of my League by Sarah Sutton

Thank you for agreeing to a Behind the Book interview about your novel Out Of My League. I was so lucky to be one of you ARC readers and became a fan.

Blurb: Out Of My League

Out Of My League is the second book you published. Was it easier launching book two?

Yes and no. I wasn’t as nervous for this book (though I was still pretty anxious about it!) mostly because the process wasn’t so unknown anymore. However, there were a few glitches with this book in the publication process that were difficult to figure out. It was a give and take, for sure!

This romance is a ‘pretend boyfriend’ romance. Have you ever fake dated?

I haven’t, which is probably a good thing! I most likely would’ve ruined the fake relationship on day one.

Out Of My League is centred around a highschool baseball team. Were you into sports at highschool?

Ooh, not at all. I’m the stereotypical character who always manages to get hit in the face by a basketball or something. Sports and I did not click, but that did open so much more time to work on my writing!

I love your YouTube channel. For my readers can you share a little what it’s about?

Thank you! I started a YouTube channel back in April, and I’m sharing all of the things I learned about the self-publishing process and my experiences with it, as well as talking about writing. With Camp NaNoWriMo coming up, my writing vlogs are coming back, and I’m so excited!

Have you got any tips for budding Author Tubers or Book Tubers?

Make the content that you love. Numbers may not grow fast at first, but if you’re loving the content you’re making, that’s all that matters.

I’m guessing you are a romance fan. What’s you favourite romance novel?

Ooh, this is a hard one! I really, really loved Kasie West’s The Fill-In Boyfriend, which, funnily enough, is another fake relationship romance! P.S. I Like You, also by Kasie, was also very sweet!

Please share a snippet of your story, Out Of My League?

Walsh stood on the other side of the door with his blond eyebrows high up on his forehead. “Nice to see you, too?”
“What are you doing here?” I was ten kinds of disoriented, staring at his figure standing against the fading sky. Did I conjure him from my thoughts? “Why aren’t you at the bay? Aren’t the fireworks starting soon?”
“I didn’t go,” he told me, slipping his hands into the pockets of his shorts.
“What? What do you mean you didn’t go? Where have you been for the past few hours, then?”
Walsh reached a hand out to me, palm up. “I can show you.”
As enticing as his words were, I hesitated, glancing at the picture on the wall as if somehow my parents could see me through it. “I can’t leave the house.”
“Your house,” he said, eyes vivid with energy, “or your yard?”
Uh. “What?”
Walsh grabbed my hand and led me out onto my front porch, then down the two steps. “Close your eyes,” he commanded, his other hand coming around to my other shoulder to guide me. “I promise I won’t let you trip over anything.”
“Walsh—”
“Shh. Just say ‘yes, Walsh’ and close your eyes.”
I gritted my teeth but relented, swaying as my vision filled with black. “I hate surprises.”
Walsh pressed firmer against my side, his chest touching my shoulder, a smile in his voice. “I think you’ll like this one.”
Grass crunched beneath my bare toes as he moved me along, but I remained a good sport and kept my eyes sealed. Though it was silly, my heart started to beat faster, the anticipation making me nervous. His hands that curved over my shoulders were gentle, the pressure steady, his body close enough behind me that I could practically feel his proximity.
“Relax,” Walsh said, guiding me to a halt. “Your shoulders are so tense. I’m not about to kill you and stuff you in my trunk.”
“Your trunk’s huge. You seriously think you’d have to stuff me into it?”
Walsh was close enough that I could feel him chuckle.
“Can I open my eyes now?”
Walsh hesitated for a moment before he let go entirely. “Yes.”

Where can we go to discover more and buy Out Of My League?

Out of My League is available on Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo books! I’ll leave a universal link for easy access to any platform! https://books2read.com/u/b55yOw

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org shop link.

[kofi]

If you enjoyed this you’ll enjoy:

Book Review: Out of my League by Sarah Sutton

Behind the Book: What Are Friends For? By Sarah Sutton

Behind the Book: Wiccan Romance – Amelia’s Story by Nicola Hebron

Book Review: Practice Boyfriend by Christina Benjamin

If you’re an indie, you need to know about this!

When I joined WIW I didn’t think self-publishing was for me. I only joined to connect with other writers.

Hearing their inspiring stories changed my mind. Self-publishing was no longer scary and they happily shared their experiences which I was able to learn from.

And, I achieved my initial goal of making incredible writer friends.

You can learn more by following them on:

Facebook: World Indie Warriors Members

Instagram: @WorldIndieWarriors

WordPress: World Indie Warriors

WIW eZine

This is a project that I manage for World Indie Warriors. I have been learning as I go and think each edition is better than the last!

It contains:

  • ENTERTAIN/LEARN: Articles for readers, writers and other creatives
  • BUY: Listings for indie books, products and services
  • CONNECT: A directory of featured members and how to find them on Social Media

This month there have been three blog posts on the WIW Blog about the upcoming brochure and how to get involved. This have been:

Submissions Open

This blog posts details all the content you need to submit to get featured in the brochure.

You can get featured if you are:

  • An indie author
  • Creator of indie products
  • Provider of an indie service

And you don’t need to be an indie. You can be a supporter of indies. We also feature members that are book bloggers too!

  • A book blogger or reviewer of any product or service in the brochure

New Releases

We have rebranded the brochure as an eZine. Another new feature will be to promote books coming soon.

If you are an indie author publishing in Oct, Nov, or Dec, you can get your new release featured.

All Indie Books

This is for bookstagrammers! Check out the post for full details but all you have to do is take a photo of an indie book or collection of indie books, use the hashtag #AllIndieBooks and we’ll feature our favourite with credit to your instagram account.

If the photo is of a book in the brochure we may also include you on the page it is featured.

What are you waiting for?

If you haven’t checked out WIW yet, go do it now! Check out the brochure and get involved.

The new brochure will launch at the end of September.

If you enjoyed this, you will like:

Writing Progress: July

Soul Heart Readers – Street Team

Why I love World Indie Warriors

Where To Find The Best Indie Books

YouTube: I’m Her Biggest Fan

So in my first YouTube video I declare myself as author J.D.Groom‘s biggest fan. I’ve got the book, the mug, the coaster, the candle…

In my debut YouTube video, I share the fabulous Sorceress of Truth merchandise I got my hands on. We’ll have a closer look at the book, and I’ll discuss why this author means so much to me.

If you enjoyed this, you’ll love:

Book Review: Sorceress of Truth by J D Groom

Book Review: Envy by J D Groom

Behind the Book: Sorceress of Truth by J D Groom

Making his YouTube dream come true…

How to beat writers block

Have you checked out Parler yet? It’s very similar to Twitter but promotes free speech. So far I’ve found everyone friendly and welcoming, and the posts I share there display better.

Someone posted that they were struggling with writers block and the advice to “just write” no matter what, everyday, was not working for them.

I’ll admit, I don’t write everyday.

So, I came to the persons rescue with a few alternative suggestions. I honestly believe that just because a method was right for someone else, doesn’t mean it’s right for all. Everyone is unique.

Originally this was a four point list on Parler but then I had more ideas.

Infographic on How to Beat Writers Block

I hope you enjoyed my infographic and found it useful. If you’re on Parler, you can add me. I’m Redfae.

If you enjoyed this, you will like:

Soul Heart Readers – Street Team

Writing Progress: July

Why you need a developmental editor!

Find your Summer Reads in the latest WIW Brochure

Soul Heart Readers – Street Team

Launching my book feels so bizarre. On one hand it’s moving too quickly. On the other hand it feels like it’s not happening fast enough.

Release Date?

I don’t have a release date yet. I’m not setting one until I’m certain; no pressure to rush. I’ve waited a long time for this and I’m going to get it right.

As a member of my street team you’ll be the first to know everything!

Hang on… What’s a Street Team?

You’ll be my first fans and get to help out with supporting my book launch. Here are a few of the activities you’ll be invited to take part in, no pressure…

Announcements

I’d love you to be involved in sharing my book announcements like:

  • cover reveal
  • the release date
  • when pre-orders open & where to buy
  • giveaway posts (you can enter too).
  • online book tour
  • details about my launch party

Online Book Tour

I’d like you to be part of my book tour. This will take place leading up to the release & launch party.

You’ll have access to me to interview for your blog (or whatever platform you use). Feel free to share your ideas too and what works for your platform.

Members of the Street Team will be encouraged to share the Online Book Tour announcement. The announcement will list everyone hosting in the tour and how to find them.

I will promote the Online Book Tour and I will share your ‘event’ once published online.

Book Launch Party

You’ll be invited to my launch party.

I’ll be giving a shout out to those that hosted in the book tour and any Street Team members I see in attendance.

The launch party will celebrate the release of Ocean Heart. In addition, I’ve invited some authors I think you’ll love so you can discover them and their books too!

Plus, we’re planning a launch party giveaway! If you love books you’ll want to be there.

Exclusive media

I know how sometimes it’s hard to share an image as it doesn’t fit your social media style. That’s why I’m looking into a way to share with you images and text to enable you to create your own social media content to promote Ocean Heart too.

The sort of media this may include is:

  • Cover image
  • Blurb text
  • Tag line text
  • Social media details & links text
  • Author profile image
  • Author bio text
  • Where to buy text
  • Book tour details text
  • Book party details text
  • Book quotes text
  • Book quote image
  • Plus social media images I created for this

That’s just for starters…

Being in the street team you’ll hear about new ideas as they develop. For example, I’m thinking of doing an exclusive giveaway only open to my street team.

You can be as involved as you like. You won’t be penalised if you forget to share a pic or life gets in your way.

NB: If you are in the blog tour you will need to schedule your post for the date & time you promised otherwise when I send people to check it out, they’ll be disappointed.

Most of all, I want to develop a connection with you. I’m hoping that connection will last long after this adventure.

I hope you have so much fun, I’ll be able to interest you in my next book launch. Then we can do this all over again. 😍

How to join?

I almost forgot this bit. 😂

Please head over to my Facebook Group: Soul Heart Readers – Street Team

This is a private group. When you join you’ll need to answer some simple questions and wait to be approved.

If you’re keen but not on Facebook- please private message me on the platform you follow me. I don’t want you to miss out, we’ll see if we can work around it.

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My Books

Why you need a developmental editor!

Writing Progress: July

Author Q and A – Ally Aldridge