When Swoon Reads launched, I was nearly done with The Rules of Summer Camp. I still had revisions and writing group and some re-working to do, but I was almost there. Also, I wanted to submit to agents, as I’d done with previous novels. But I didn’t stop thinking about and considering Swoon Reads. Because I really, really like what they’re doing.
Swoon Reads publishes YA love stories with the help of their reader community. Basically, writers can submit their novels to the site and the community of readers reads the books, comments on them, rates them, and hopefully enjoys them. Then the team there makes publishing decisions based on the novels and the community. I don’t want to call it crowd-sourcing, because it isn’t, but it is definitely a community of readers with one thing in common: love of YA romance.
Swoon Reads is a place for the sort of YA books that I like to read. Fun, contemporary YA romance. It doesn’t have to be heavy or issue-driven. Maybe even something that can be described as “cute.” Something light to take to the beach or on a road trip. Something that a teenage girl (who I imagine being a lot like I was at that age) can escape in to for 250 pages and leave on the other end with a smile on her face and warmth in her heart and a flutter in her stomach.
And the best part is, that’s what The Rules of Summer Camp is to me. I’m glad that Swoon Reads gives this kind of novel a chance.
So I’ve considered for a while whether or not I wanted to submit it.
What Swoon Reads does is give me the chance to share this novel (and maybe others down the road) with the readers, pre-publication. I won’t lie and say that my end-goal isn’t to get published, because of course it is. But right now I think this is a fantastic opportunity to get my novel in the hands of people who want to be reading it. I can write the description, create a cover, upload it, and then wait. Wait for feedback, comments, ratings — it’s similar to waiting for an agent’s response, of course, but it’s from a different viewpoint. Regardless, it makes me nervous.
See, I come from a long background of writing fanfiction and sharing it on forums and livejournal and the like. And in all those years, I struggled a lot with feelings of jealousy and disappointment as I watched other fanfiction writers and other stories get hit after hit and praise after praise. I ate up any feedback I could get and yet I never felt like it was enough. With that in mind, obviously, one of my major reservations with Swoon Reads is the reliance on comments and ratings and all the anxiety that comes with it.
What if I shared my novel and no one read it? What if no one liked it?
Oddly, it’s the second question that I felt more equipped to deal with. I’ve been rejected by agents over and over again. I’ve had years and years of writing workshops and writing groups. I can take criticism. In fact, in this case, I want criticism. I have feedback from some agents, but most offer standard rejections. Who I want to hear from are readers. I want to know what a reader thinks of my characters, the story, the romance.
If I shared it and no one liked it, that’s one thing. But if no one reads it? That’s another thing entirely.
All this to say, finally — I’m facing my fears and taking a chance.
I’m hopeful, anxious, worried, scared, excited — all of these things and more. I’m worried that not many people will read it. I’m anxious to get comments and ratings. I’m hopeful that this could be a really good thing for me. I’m scared (as always) of rejection. I’m excited to see what happens, where this leads. I’m everything all at once.