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Thread: Who is the Slush Pile reader?

  1. #76
    DenturePunk writer bearilou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KevinG View Post
    Oh okay. Thanks guys, now if I can only find the icon where I remove myself from under the chair that would be great. I thought I was going to get blasted for asking such a stupid question. I am still a little unfamiliar with the lingo on here lol.
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  2. #77
    Rewriting My Destiny Cyia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bearilou View Post
    *hides with Kevin so he doesn't feel alone*
    All right, both of you - OUT! How are we supposed to keep this place clean with people hiding under the chairs? Sheesh.

    Last edited by Cyia; 09-15-2012 at 02:53 AM. Reason: . =/= ?
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  3. #78
    figuring it all out
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    @Old Hack: Thank you Old Hack as an upcoming writer, I have a lot of questions to ask. I honestly had no idea what slush pile is and for some reason it made me think of a slushy lol. I been on a lot of forums (not just writing) where they were very mean and nasty. Basically internet bullies and trolls. Thank you for being patient and understanding with me.

    @bearilou Thank you, it was getting pretty lonely under there


    @Cyia: AH!!!! Don't vacuum us up!

  4. #79
    I find ur lack of faith disturbing mellymel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Medievalist View Post
    1. Unagented mss. end up in the slush or unsolicited submissions.

    2. The person who reads the slush—the first reader—varies from publisher to publisher, and at any given publisher, from time to time. It may be a senior editor, an intern, an associate editor, or an experienced reader who volunteers. This is not unskilled labor. Being a first reader is taxing, and requires serious skills.

    3. The person reading the unsolicited mss. rarely reads all of the ms. except in the cases of short fiction. The first reader's responsibility is, especially at larger publishers, to decide if the ms. merits being passed up the line to a senior editor.

    4. Generally speaking, if the language proficiency is acceptable, and there's some indication of plot and characters, a ms. has a good chance of leaving the pile and moving up the hierarchy to someone who will read more closely.

    5. The vast majority of unsolicited mss. tend to be deficient in language skills (grammar, syntax and diction are lacking, spelling is idiosyncratic) or have clear indications that the writer is unfamiliar with the concepts of plot, narrative and character.
    I think this pretty much sums it up, though I think we could add to this that sometimes these "slush pile readers" have been told by the agent they work for that they are on the market for (interested in) a particular type of genre/story to add to their list. I believe that can play into what makes it beyond the slush pile. You can have a very well written story with strong voice and plot and still not get past the slush pile if, for example, you have written in a genre that the agent is not actively seeking or is one they are completely tired of because it has become saturated in the market or they already have something similar the are currently subbing to publishers.
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  5. #80
    practical experience, FTW
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    The slush pile can also mean short stories submitted to a magazine. Who stole the term from whom I don't know XD.

  6. #81
    knows what she's looking for when she finds it! Absolute Sage
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    For the record, yes, I consider everything that comes in unsolicited (which is almost everything) to be "slush" -- and I read all my own slush. I just don't trust anyone else to know the weird things that will appeal to me - since I don't even know them until I see them!
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  7. #82
    Whatever I did, I didn't do it. Phaeal's Avatar
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    LOL, I just had a vision of the poor agent walking down the hall a la Curt or Rachel, when the mean football team appears and throws a couple hundred MSS in their faces.
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  8. #83
    Fantastic historian Anne Lyle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mellymel View Post
    I think this pretty much sums it up, though I think we could add to this that sometimes these "slush pile readers" have been told by the agent they work for that they are on the market for (interested in) a particular type of genre/story to add to their list. I believe that can play into what makes it beyond the slush pile. You can have a very well written story with strong voice and plot and still not get past the slush pile if, for example, you have written in a genre that the agent is not actively seeking or is one they are completely tired of because it has become saturated in the market or they already have something similar the are currently subbing to publishers.
    This is true. Both my agent and publisher are periodically open to queries/submissions (I'm with a tiny agency, so they don't take on new clients very often), and in both cases they usually have very specific requirements within the broader limits of the genres they work with (fantasy and SF).

    I can also attest to the idiocies of the slushpile. For example my publishers' last Open Door Month specifically requested traditional medieval-type epic fantasy of 100k+ words, as they have little of that in their line-up, and yet they got sent everything from excellent novels that they're considering signing, down to a Batman fanfic novella (I kid you not)!
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  9. #84
    That new author smell . . . GiantRampagingPencil's Avatar
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    I'd be afraid to turn down a Batman story. If anyone could crotch-punch you through the fiction/reality divide, it's Batman.
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  10. #85
    WordDreamer Athena Solomon's Avatar
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    Interesting thread.
    Things seem to be the same in the Netherlands:
    here, the slush pile is also handled by interns and assistants, sometimes by editors.
    If they like what they see, they pass it on to their colleagues.
    And yes, there never seems to be enough time for slush pile reading....

    Same goes for the junk issue (which goes to show that writers being delusional isn't culturally bound):
    a publisher told me once they get 3 manuscripts a day, about 1000 a year (the Netherlands is a really small country, so the submission rate here is lower).
    Of that 1000, only 1 or 2 really stand out and are considered worth publishing.
    Which is 0.1 percent...
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  11. #86
    WordDreamer Athena Solomon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timmy V. View Post
    I presume Jodi Piccoult's sister or Jodi Piccoult's friends' submissions don't end up in the slush pile. am I presuming correctly?
    Yes. But only if the editor actually knows they're from Jodi's sister or friends.
    And it still has to be good/great work, of course.
    Skipping the slush pile doesn't automatically means you get published.
    However, I think knowing someone in the publishing business helps speed things up tremendously.
    I had work ending up in the slush pile like everybody else's, but also work that got read immediately because:

    - a published and rather accomplished writer said I should send work to her publisher (mind you, this writer hadn't even read my work, we'd just met, by coincidence)

    - I had a student in my writing class once who used to work at a publishing house and told me I should send my work to her former boss (and again, this student didn't even know my work, I was just lucky)

    - I met an editor on a book fair, and she'd remembered our meeting (to be honest, we only saw each other from a distance; I only spoke to her assistent b/c she was in a meeting at that moment)

    Etc.

    Again, your work has to be good, but networking does help (it didn't always get me a publication btw, but in some cases it did, and it also left me with very helpful contacts > and I mean that literally: editors and publishers actually reading my work and giving me some really solid advice).
    Last edited by Athena Solomon; 05-09-2013 at 12:23 AM.
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  12. #87
    Couth barbarian calieber's Avatar
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    I wonder if the ease of submitting electronically is increasing the number of out-of-genre submissions. If I can submit to twice as many agents/publishers without expending twice the effort or incurring twice the cost, I have less than half the motivation to make sure I'm submitting to an agent/publisher who handles the genre I wrote in.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Hack View Post
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  13. #88
    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    The number of submissions has increased hugely now that it's possible to email them in, without cost or significant preparation. And yes, the majority of submissions are in genres the agents and publishers don't work in.

    Sadly, the number of good submissions hasn't increased so much.

  14. #89
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Hi! I'm a new writer and I'm just trying to figure out why it's taking so long to get an answer about the manuscript I sent to a publisher - I thought it might have something to do with the 'slush pile'.

    I sent a query letter and two page synopsis to the editorial assistant back in August 2011. Received a reply January 2012 asking me to send them the first three chapters of my novel. August 2012 I asked for a status update. December 2012, the editorial assistant asked to see the entire manuscript. I sent the complete manuscript to them December 2012 and was told I'd hear back in January 2013. Then February 2013 I was told I'd hear back shortly and my manuscript was with 'the team'.

    Who actually is 'the team'? Are those slush pile readers? Is that why it's taking so long to hear back?

    At first I thought the 'team' might be either junior or senior editors - but I wasn't sure what it takes to get a manuscript that far 'up the chain'. So now I'm not really sure if editors are reading it or slush pile readers. I don't really know anything about the publishing business so I don't know if this is par for the course.

    Thanks in advance

  15. #90
    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    I'm not entirely sure what's going on with your manuscript, but you could always ask for clarification.

  16. #91
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Hack View Post
    I'm not entirely sure what's going on with your manuscript, but you could always ask for clarification.
    Well, I have written them two letters - one in March and one in April- with no reply.

    I'm almost at the point where I'm assuming they sent a rejection letter but somehow it got lost.

  17. #92
    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    At this point, then, I'd assume that it's a no, and move on.

  18. #93
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Thanks for the insight and inspiration (it sounds like submitting to a slush pile isn't that hopeless if you have any idea what you're doing)

    Quote Originally Posted by LindaJeanne View Post
    we don't like their sound, and guitar music is on it's way out.
    For those who didn't get the reference, that's from Decca Records' rejection of The Beatles

    That's a classic example of rejection for the wrong reasons, and that kind of thing inflates the self-importance of people who were accurately rejected.
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  19. #94
    Professor of applied misanthropy Drachen Jager's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KingAlanI View Post
    For those who didn't get the reference, that's from Decca Records' rejection of The Beatles

    That's a classic example of rejection for the wrong reasons, and that kind of thing inflates the self-importance of people who were accurately rejected.
    We know. And J.K. Rowling was rejected many times on Harry Potter. In fact the editor who ended up publishing her had already thrown her manuscript in the reject pile. Only his daughter, who liked to poke her nose in, happened to get her hands on it.

    Almost everything good was rejected somewhere before it was accepted. C'est la vie.

  20. #95
    practical experience, FTW Melinda Moore's Avatar
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    I have a slush pile reader from The Colored Lens as a guest blogger today. He has a lot of insight into how it's helped his own writing by winnowing the entries. Please check it out: Slush Reading
    My blog: Enchanted Spark.
    My first published sci fi story: Kepler's Dozen

  21. #96
    Dual class author / nightguard WormHeart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timmy V. View Post
    Who are these submitters who submit this horrible stuff. What are they thinking? Seriously. What are they thinking? It sounds to me they ruin it for the other submitters who may have a quality project.

    Some of them go on to selfpublish - ruining that game for the rest of us.

    I'm not usually one to point at specific people, but I found some of my favorite horror-blogs being spammed by this:

    [removed by mod]
    Last edited by Old Hack; 06-06-2013 at 12:42 PM.
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  22. #97
    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    WormHeart, I've edited your post.

    Please don't single out examples of poor writing like that: it's unkind, and not constructive. Thanks.

  23. #98
    Dual class author / nightguard WormHeart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Hack View Post
    WormHeart, I've edited your post.

    Please don't single out examples of poor writing like that: it's unkind, and not constructive. Thanks.
    Sorry. In hindsight that was an asshat move.
    From the north!


  24. #99
    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Please don't worry: it's so tempting sometimes, isn't it? I didn't edit your post in the spirit of punishment, more in the spirit of helpfulness, if that makes any sense at all!

  25. #100
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Brenda G. Potash's Avatar
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    Smile

    Quote Originally Posted by Timmy V. View Post
    Wow. that says it all. Isn't that fascinating though? Doesn't anyone in the 95 percent have critiquers, or interested people, who will say "no this is not ready to submit?" I want to write an essay on that. I'm inspired.
    This makes me think of people who go on those singing tv shows because their mom told them they sung like baby angels. But everyone has the best intentions, all the way from the person writing their masterpiece, to the person telling them they are good so their feelings aren't hurt. In my opinion, tell me I suck so I can go find a dream that I'll be better suited for. Who knows, maybe I'll make a great librarian, I do like books and they get paid well.
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