The 15th Annual SCBWI Winter Conference in New York City will be February 21-23, 2014.
I was able to connect on the phone with publisher and conference faculty member Jean Feiwel to learn about her newest imprint for Macmillan Children's Division, Swoon Reads. Jean also runs three other imprints there; Henry Holt, Feiwel and Friends and Square Fish. What's unique about Swoon Reads is that it's a crowd-sourced teen romance imprint. (And in some ways, it was inspired by Susan Boyle's breakout moment on Britain's Got Talent.)
Writers submit their teen romance novels to the site, and readers visit the site to read the manuscripts. Readers rate them from One Heart (Not for me) to Five Hearts (Swoon-Worthy.) The top-rated --Swoon-Worthiest -- manuscripts will be considered by Jean and The Swoon Reads publishing team for publication, and they envision the public staying involved and giving input throughout the publishing process -- including editorial, cover art, marketing and book tours.
At the #NY14SCBWI conference, Jean will be on the must-see panel, THE FUTURE OF AUTHORSHIP, with Paul Aiken, Jane Friedman, Abbi Glines, and Tim Travaglini.
|Publisher Jean Feiwel|
My full interview with Jean is posted at SCBWI: The Blog, but here are a few highlights:
On why she wanted to create a crowd-sourced teen romance imprint:To hear Jean yourself and take part in all the wonderful offerings of the SCBWI Winter Conference, register here.
Jean: I feel that publishers had started to create so many barriers to entry for publishing. And especially for something as straight-forward as some of the category publishing that was going on in terms of romance, and science fiction/ fantasy or mystery and to watch some of the writers who were coming up strong, like Colleen Hoover and Abbi Glines, I thought – I don’t think that they necessarily would have found their way to a traditional publisher. Because, what publishers look for is more trend-based, so it was dystopic fiction or it was supernatural romance, or whatever. I think that if you’re not agented, I just think, this wasn’t going to happen. So, I thought, How do I source new talent? How do I get to people who are writing and working hard out there but aren’t going to find their way to my door?
On Swoon Reads being open to stories of women falling in love with women and men falling in love with men, not just women falling in love with men and vice-versa:
Jean: I feel that it’s a critical part of our site is to be, again, inclusive. Especially for young people at this age – we’re really concentrating on young adult romance. And I think that as kids go through the various kind of sexual explorations or changes that they go through, it’s important to be broad in what you are offering and there’s not just the traditional, again, romantic setup. We had, in our focus groups, which were small and not extensive, consistently people were interested in different pairings, of male or female and transgender. A lot of interest in that, and so that is definitely an aspect of the site.
On offering writers of YA romance a version of American Idol, The Voice, and Britain's Got Talent... and the chance to be Susan Boyle:
Jean: I always say, be careful what you wish for because it can be overwhelming and amazing. But it’s also… it can be somebody’s dream come true. And that’s really our hope: Is to make somebody’s dream come true.