Publishers are seeking new means of finding the next top rated book. The traditional process, which requires authors to submit manuscripts directly to the publishing house, where it is decided whether they will be accepted or rejected, is being turned on its head, according to an article recently completed by The New York Times. In light of reality shows such as American Idol or The Voice, one publishing house has adapted this method to publications.
Swoon Reads, a website that serves as a young-adult imprint of Macmillan Publishing House, allows authors to submit their manuscripts, where the ten thousand registered consumers can read samples for free, as an adaptation of crowdsourcing, which relies on support from the general public instead of the elite few. Ratings and comments are provided, which allows the author to receive free feedback. From there, if a novel is received particularly well, Macmillan considers accepting the manuscript for publication. Since its inception in 2012, Swoon Reads has only accepted six debut novels of the two hundred and thirty seven manuscripts posted to the website, according to Jean Feiwel, Senior Vice President of Macmillan Publishing and creator of Swoon Reads.
Sandy Hall is one of the lucky six, which had her novel, A Little Something Different published through this system. Fans rated the piece very well and it was, therefore, accepted for publication. The hopes is that in proceeding in the reverse order—which usually publishes the novel first, and worries about building a fan base after release—is that the fans will do the bulk of the marketing work for the publishing house, through encouraging word of mouth.
Similar avenues have existed in the past. Literary agents have long scanned the material provided on Wattpad for the next biggest hit with an already existing following. Recently, authors banned together to create a Kickstarter campaign to fund six thousand work in progress novels; they raised twenty two million dollars in the process. Unbound allows readers to directly support the projects of authors, through financial contributions. Finally, Medium, much like Swoon Reads, allows authors to post and receive feedback.