“Swoon Reads was started as a way to see material that we don’t usually see from agents. We wanted to get manuscripts right from the authors themselves and let readers tell us what they wanted to see published,” said Kat Brzozowski, editor of Swoon Reads.
Swoon Reads is unique to the YA community in that it allows authors to publish their work in a completely different way.
“You can submit directly to us,” said Swoon Reads director Lauren Scobell. “Readers can read it. If they love it and if we love it, we publish it. You get a publishing deal that includes editing, marketing and the support of our entire staff but with a built-in readership on our site. As a writer, regardless of whether or not you are chosen to be published, you get such valuable feedback from our readers. And we are getting books that may not have been sent to us through agents. Everyone wins!”
Swoon’s debut novel A Little Something Different sold over 100,000 copies. Since its start in 2013, more than 50 novels have been acquired, with over 400 manuscripts available on the site.
Being the only crowdsourced publishing house brings a lot of diversity to the publishing field. Jen Wilde’s Queens of Geek, publishing in 2017, was inspired by the We Need Diverse Books movement. The We Need Diverse Books movement strives to promote changes in the publishing industry and provide literature with diverse characters and experiences that reflects the diversity of everyday life. Queens of Geek is one of many books inspired by the movement, featuring bisexual and neurodivergent characters.
“I think we see more diverse projects on Swoon Reads because there are no gatekeepers to getting your manuscript read by editors! We are seeing more and more manuscripts about characters of color, LGTBQ characters, and more.”, said Brzozowski.
Swoon Reads’ impact on diversity grew larger than Scobell could have ever imagined.
“We’re bringing people together to create something new. As we’ve acquired more authors we realize that we likely wouldn’t have seen these books if Swoon Reads didn’t exist. They’re more diverse, oftentimes written specifically for Swoon Reads, and we are finding some amazing authors. We want to do everything possible to ensure that diversity is reflected in all books and use every means possible to do this. Swoon Reads won’t replace the traditional way of being published, and we still have imprints that focus on this. But we’re providing another doorway for books to be discovered. We see so many diverse submissions, and we couldn’t be happier. We want these books, and so do readers. I think because we have a platform to speak directly to readers and writers, we have an advantage. It’s all about breaking down barriers.”
Kristen Orlando, whose experience with Swoon Reads has been “nothing short of fabulous”, will have the first novel coming from Swoon Reads that isn’t a direct romance. You Don’t Know My Name is the story of Reagan Hills, a superspy in training who’s destined to follow her parents’ footsteps in joining the Black Angels, a CIA organization that most of the US government doesn’t even know about. Everything was going according to plan until she fell in love with the boy next store.
“What a provocative and revolutionary concept. Letting real readers have a say in the books that get chosen was just such a groundbreaking, cool idea because in the end, their voices and opinions really matter,” said Orlando. “When I first submitted the manuscript, I found the community of readers to be incredibly supportive. I loved getting that instant feedback from readers of all ages and I truly made lifelong friends on Swoon. Once I found out that my book was chosen for publication, I was of course elated. Every single person on the Swoon Reads team is a total rock stars. I feel really fortunate to get to work alongside some of the very best in the business and I couldn’t be more grateful. It really is a dream come true and I’m so thankful to the Swoon Reads community and the team at Macmillan for this tremendous opportunity.”