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Ask an Editor: Choosing Manuscripts to Read

Vera Burris asked:

“What’s the criteria Swoon Reads uses in deciding which manuscripts it will read?”

On the face of it, the answer is pretty simple: We read the manuscripts that you, the Swoon Reads Community, seem to be most excited about. Of course, the trick is figuring out which manuscripts those are. It would be easy to just look at the ratings, but everyone here is so nice that the heart ratings feel more like a popularity contest than a real judge of quality. We still do pay attention to the ratings, giving a bit more priority to highly rated manuscripts, but that is only a small part of the equation.

What I really tend to focus on the most when deciding what to read myself, or to recommend to other members of the Swoon Reads Editorial board, is the number, and more importantly, the quality of the comments.

We don’t need the manuscript to be perfect right out of the gate (after all, editing the manuscript is what I’m here for!); instead, we are looking for authors whose writing gets people invested and makes them care about the characters and the book. We want to publish the types of books that people fall in love with and start talking about. (As we all know, word of mouth sells the most books!) So that’s what I look for.

It’s one thing to dip into a manuscript and rate it five hearts to support the author, but it takes a lot more effort to actually write a comment, especially thoughtful ones that talk about the novel instead of just saying “good job”. So I pay a LOT more attention to a novel that has a lot of long chatty comments talking about things that people liked and ideas for how to improve the novel. A well-written critique or an emotional response to some element of the novel is the BEST way to get us to take notice of a book you love.

We are reading and listening to ALL your comments, so please, take the time to tell us what you really think! And if you need a few tips for the best way to leave a good critique, check out this post.

Have a question for our editors? Let us know in the comments below.

Author spotlight

Holly West

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

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