SwoonStalker Series: Part 1 – Intro to Swoon Reads

Hey everyone! I’m T.K. Yeager and this will be my first, non-biographical blog post ever. Whaaaaat?! I know… I can’t believe it either.

I’m pretty excited about starting this series since it’s on a topic that’s near and dear to my heart. The crowd sourced YA book publisher – SwoonReads.

If you’ve ever been on the website, you may have seen my name pop up a time or two. That’s because I’m a self-proclaimed SwoonReads Addict. In other words, I’m the SwoonStalker because I’m super obsessed with the site. It’s a super fun website (when you get the hang of things), but initially, it’s pretty dang confusing.

So, that’s where this post comes in!

How do you know so much about Swoon, TK? Well friends, I’ve been an active member on the Swoon site since Nov 2015 and I have read over 50 books on the site (purple tier represent!). I’ve also submitted 3 manuscripts and learned A TON from my submissions even though I’ve never been selected. I still plan to post in the future and hope for eventual selection, so I’m still working at it, just like many of you!

But anyway, back to the informative section of this blog. Without further ado, here’s what you should do when you’re a brand new Swooner!

As an additional/first reference, you may want to check out Swoon’s official “How To…” book here.

(As a disclaimer and a reminder: All opinions are my own ^_^)

Step 1: Create Your Profile

My favorite part about Swoon Reads is that you can meet and mingle with other Swooners. I’ve met LOTS of writer friends through Swoon and they are AWESOME. I can bounce ideas off them, do CampNanoWriMo with them, and even use them as critique partners. It’s amazing.

Therefore, I suggest that you add a picture (it doesn’t have to be a real picture of you) and a few things about yourself. It’s fun to know what books and things that people on the site like and dislike. I’ve actually become friends with a fellow Swooner purely based on the fact that they listed one of the same favorite books as I did, haha.

I also HIGHLY suggest that you connect at least one social media account (wattpad, goodreads, twitter, etc). I connected my twitter to my Swoon account and the experience got SO much more fun. I didn’t even have a twitter before Swoon Reads and now I use it multiple times a day. I actually prefer it over my facebook at this point to be honest.

Step 2: Check Out a Recently Selected Book

If you’re planning on submitting a book, I think it’s best to get a feel for the website as a whole BEFORE you submit. There are some things that can really make your book stand out on Swoon, and in order to be considered for selection by the staff, you MUST stand out. Additionally, once you post a manuscript, you can’t re-post it without some headache, so post your book with care!

The first step toward success it to know what success actually looks like, AKA check out the previously selected books! The most recently selected books will still have excerpts on the website for a small period of time. To search these books, go to the “Selected books” tab and search by “most recent”. Add one of these books to your reads.

First check out the short description. What pulls you into the book from there? Then check out the long description. What entices you to actually open the book? Now read at least the first three chapters.

This book was a success on the site and with the staff. You want to remember how you felt about the key ingredients of this book and remember those things when you’re thinking about posting later!

Step 3: Add some books to your reading list

There are literally HUNDREDS of books on the Swoon website, so how do you even pick? I’ll do a more detailed answer on this question later, but for now, here are the basics.

Go to the “read” tab and it automatically sorts by most recently added. There are many other filters (including genres, trending, etc.) so check them out if you have something special in mind. Otherwise, I’d stick to the most recent for now. Pick your favorite of the top ten on that first tab.

Step 4: Start Reading!

Once you find a book you want, click “read now” and there you go! You’ll start reading. Woohoo! If you’re a mobile user, you have to tap (NOT SWIPE) in order to flip the page. This initially REALLY confused me due to the swipe page turns on my kindle (and wattpad) app.

And before you ask, no, Swoon doesn’t have a mobile app. But I sure do hope they’re working on one (Hint Hint Swoon staff!!)

Step 5: Comment (kindly) and Rate

5.1 – Comments

I’ll do a more detailed post later about how to write helpful comments, but I’ll give a summary here.

First and most importantly, ALWAYS comment with kindness. Swoon Reads is not a place for trolls or telling people that their book sucks and they should hate themselves. ALL of the authors that posted have been vulnerable enough to open themselves up to criticism, and that’s really, REALLY tough. Use the golden rule – Make sure that you would be OK receiving the comment that you leave for someone else.

I am not saying that you have to be all sunshine and rainbows and “everyone is perfect” in every comment. I love it when people point out something that’s missing or something that doesn’t make sense. It helps make my manuscript and my writing better! What I am saying is: if you have criticism, make sure it’s constructive and that will help the author improve. As long as you are making suggestions in a kind manner with the intent to help the author, then giving bits of “tough” feedback is OK. Just try to sprinkle in a few compliments and things you liked while you are at it.

PHEW. Moving on.

After the third chapter of a book, a prompt will appear, asking you how you like the book so far. Comment on how you’re feeling after those first three chapters. What’s making you excited? Or even what’s not working for you? I appreciate when people comment at this point, even if it’s brief because it shows me they’re reading and engaged. All comments are helpful in my eyes.

At the end of the book it’ll prompt you to comment again. You should definitely comment here!! Let the author know ALL of your feels and also tell them about any plot holes or dying questions you still have.

There is also a section that asks to relate it to another book. Please DON’T say it’s totally unique and unlike any other book. That simply can’t be true AND it’s not helpful. Just leave it blank if you can’t think of anything specific. This is one of my MAJOR pet peeves on Swoon… so just don’t do it, pretty please with sugar on top.

5.2 – Ratings

Lastly, don’t forget to rate! The Swoon rating system is as follows in number of hearts:

1 – Not for me,
2 – It’s okay,
3 – I like it,
4 – I love it,
5 – Swoonworthy!

However, I (along with most of the community) seem to have a different scale since rating below 3 stars seems preeeetty mean. Also, I have yet to see a Swoon book that actually has 3 stars or less… so yeah. The rating system isn’t being used as they initially intended.

Here is T.K.’s adjusted rating system instead (feel free to use):

  • 5 hearts: Omg omg omg I loved this book and I would be SO happy if Swoon picked it! Please pick this book Swoon!!!
  • 4.5 hearts: This book was really good! I loved it, but there were some areas that may need a bit of improvement. I would still be happy if Swoon picked this for publication.
  • 4 hearts: This book was ok. I read the whole thing and the main premise was good. There were a few things missing, but overall it was likable. The author should definitely fix things before Swoon picks them.
  • 3.5 hearts: I had to struggle to finish this book or I skimmed this book at many parts. There were some things I definitely didn’t like. Definitely shouldn’t be published by Swoon.
  • 3 hearts or lower: There was something I really didn’t like about your book. In fact, I probably didn’t rate your book at all to spare your feelings or because I simply couldn’t read it any longer.

In short, most books have a 4.5 heart rating. I’m not sure the website allows a straight 5 heart rating. If your book has a 4 heart rating, all is not lost, but you definitely should consider making improvements after you get a few more comments on what to work on. If you have less than 4 hearts, you should start revising your book whenever you are willing.

5.3 – Swoon Index

There is also this thing called the Swoon Index that you can use while commenting/rating at the end of the book. It’s supposed to help you identify books with the following extremes: heat, tears, laughs, and thrills. You rank a book on how much of each of those items you felt you saw while reading. Bring the bar further to the right if there was more, further to the left if there was less.

I *personally* don’t find the swoon index helpful. I never use it on other people’s books and I never look at what people say about mine. So that’s all I have to say about that.

Step 6: Check out Swoon’s Blog!

Personally, I check the blog every morning when I wake up. I wake up around 6 AM Pacific, and they typically have the post up by then (9 AM Eastern). So while I’m waking up, I check the latest Swoon news and info.

The blog contains lots of the following fun information:

  • Writing tips/tricks from Editors/guests
  • Selection lists
  • Submission Deadlines
  • Cover voting (THIS IS MY FAVORITE)
  • Selected Author Bios
  • Selected Author tips/tricks/updates
  • New Swoon books from previously selected authors
  • Writing Prompts
  • Lots, lots more!

There are some days where they (randomly) don’t post to their blog. Sometimes, it’s a holiday. Other times, I really don’t know, but it’s just not there. Maybe they just don’t have anything planned? But don’t fret too much, they usually have something the next week day, so just be patient and wait it out.

Step 7: Leave me questions on this blog that you’d like me to answer!

And there you have it! You now understand the basics of Swoon Reads (YAYYYYY). Still a little confused? Want to know how to set yourself up for success when you post your manuscript? Want to help select the books that will show up on next season’s list? Ask me any and all questions you have in the comments below! I’ll cover as many questions as I can in future posts, so stay tuned!

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