So you finally finished writing and editing and re-editing your manuscript and you’re basically at the point where you are too anxious to do anything else but show your book to the world. Or you maybe even want to cry because you’re sick of reading it/editing it/looking at it.
Good for you! This means you’re probably all set to add your book to the Swoon Reads website! *throws confetti*
In honor of the quickly approaching Swoon Reads Season 11 deadline (June 5 at 11:59 PM EST!), here’s a post about submitting your manuscript to Swoon. Below are a few tips and tricks on how to give yourself the best chance at getting noticed by the community (and the staff!) after you upload.
Step 1: Upload Your Actual Manuscript Text
Swoon has some preferred submission styles, so make sure you check out their “tips” page on that HERE. The most important of these tips is to have your font be a reasonable size (11 or 12) and make sure that you have chapter breaks.
Also, Swoon prefers novels to be in the 50,000-70,000 word count range. They require that novels MUST be over 45,000. So if your novel’s shorter than that, you’re going to have to expand your story. And if your novel is longer than 70,000, don’t fear! It doesn’t mean you’re not in the running. However, in my personal opinion, you should stay under 90,000 because many of the books on the website that have more words than 90k tend to ramble a bit and make me lose my focus.
In MS Word (what I use for writing my manuscripts), use the “heading 1” for any chapter titles so that the website will be able to identify your individual chapters. This allows people to navigate a bit easier through your novel when reading on the site.
Once you upload the manuscript CHECK IT BEFORE SUBMITTING (this cannot be underlined/bolded enough). You cannot change the actual text of your manuscript after you click the submit button, so make sure it looks right!
Flip through the first three chapters in the reader window that pops up. You don’t have to read all of it (if you don’t want to), but just make sure it looks right. Also look for any sections that are bolded/italicized and make sure that the swoon website isn’t showing them in a way that’s weird or confusing.
Before you move on, check your last chapter to make sure you’re not missing anything. You don’t want to leave your readers hanging with an accidentally cut-off/cliff hanger ending.
Step 2: Add a Cover
You may be tempted to push this step off until later, but DON’T. The cover is an EXTREMELY important part of the Swoon Reads process. If a book doesn’t have a cover, I’m typically going to skip over it and not even bother to check it out. Books without covers WILL NOT be read and therefore WILL NOT be selected. So set yourself up for success and add one right away.
Swoon requires a 600×900 pixel photo for the cover. So no matter what program you use to make your cover (photoshop, canva, GIMP, MS Publisher, etc) make sure it has these dimensions. If you need to resize an existing cover to fit the dimensions above, it’s easy enough to resize it in paint or a similar program and re-save it as a jpeg or png.
Try to choose a cover that will help add to the main theme of your book. If it’s adventure, choose a picture of someone holding a sword. If it’s romance, choose a picture of a couple embracing. You get the idea. It doesn’t have to be super fancy, but it needs to exist at the very least. The cover is the very first impression your readers get of your book. Make it a good one.
If you need suggestions on where to find beautiful (free) stock photos, check out pexels and unsplash… or you know, be a rebel and search google (cough, I’ve never done that, cough)
My last bit of cover advice: Make the title legible. It helps if you have thick/bold/capitalized lettering. If you can’t read the title from a small thumbnail, you probably want to pick a different font/color for the words.
Step 3: Create a Short Description
You may think that this isn’t super important, but it is. After the cover, this is the second impression of your book that readers will see. And if it bores them, they probably won’t click to read the long description or your book.
The short description is limited to 100 characters, so make those words count! Best advice: Don’t be generic!! This is actually one of my pet peeves. Here’s an example of being generic:
A girl has to go on an adventure to save herself and her friends.
She also finds love on the way.
This could be describing ANY number of books. Therefore, be descriptive! Hit your major plot points! Give us a hint as to what’s actually going to happen in your book like:
Honor. Sword Fights. Passion. Revenge.
Camilla Montisto is determined to master them all.
Isn’t that much more intriguing and descriptive? It makes you go “Oh! That’s interesting. Let me click to find out more!” Then you hook the reader into reading the long synopsis, and from there, your entire book!
Step 4: Finish it Off with a Great Synopsis
One of the biggest mistakes I see on Swoon is a rushed synopsis. I know at this point you’re probably sick and tired of thinking about your book. But again, this step is VERY important. This is the make or break point where someone will actually decide to read your book or not.
Your synopsis can’t be super long (I think there’s a 900 character limit), but make sure you cover all of your bases: Main characters, their names/personalities, the main plot and a hint at some of the major plot points and issues that they’ll face along the way.
If a book has a poorly written synopsis, I’m not going to read it. The synopsis is a pretty honest first glimpse of the author’s writing style. If I’m intrigued by the content and I enjoy the writing style of the synopsis then BOOM! I’m sold on your book and I’ll add it to my reading list.
Step 5: SUBMIT!!!
If you’ve completed all of the steps above, then YAY! You’re ready to submit your manuscript!
Don’t forget – After you submit your manuscript, the manuscript text can’t be changed. So when you find that typo in chapter four or that slightly awkward sentence in chapter 8, you’re just going to have to let it go. Make a note in your own copy of the manuscript and fix it later.
Although you can’t change the manuscript itself, luckily you can change your cover, and both of your synopses. So if you find errors there, by all means, fix them ASAP!
And that is all of the advice I have on submitting your book to Swoon. I hope you’re finding this information useful!
Have a great day posting and good luck waiting patiently (or impatiently) for your “added” and “commented” notifications to start appearing! Good Luck and let me know if you have any additional questions in the comments!