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seun
07-05-2011, 06:55 PM
For those in the know (editors, agents etc), how bad is the slush pile really? Say we're talking levels of bad where one makes you think the writer can construct a coherent sentence but doesn't have much of a story to tell, and a ten which makes you want to poke your own eyes out so you don't have to read anything so horrible again.

How bad does the slush get?

CaoPaux
07-05-2011, 07:16 PM
From the horse's mouth, Slushkiler: http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/004641.html

seun
07-05-2011, 07:28 PM
Thanks for the link. Interesting read.

TheTinCat
07-05-2011, 07:34 PM
Slush ranges from brilliant stuff to the incoherent, grammatically painful recollections of a mental patients late-night conversations with an angel named Carl, scrawled on un-lined paper in crayon or lipstick.

Literally.

TheTinCat
07-05-2011, 07:36 PM
But most slush is neither great nor terrible. Most of what people write and submit is just so dull and mediocre that it isn't even worth sighing over...

seun
07-05-2011, 07:40 PM
Slush ranges from brilliant stuff to the incoherent, grammatically painful recollections of a mental patients late-night conversations with an angel named Carl, scrawled on un-lined paper in crayon or lipstick.

Literally.

That's amazing. And depressing.


But most slush is neither great nor terrible. Most of what people write and submit is just so dull and mediocre that it isn't even worth sighing over...

To be honest, that was more or less what I expected - stuff that's just not really that good.

Darkshore
07-05-2011, 08:45 PM
I really think it must depend on the place and time. My first submission actually came back to me with some in-depth feedback (though it was still a rejection) so that either tells me that the editor hadn't yet ripped her hair out from utter crap or she generally had good stuff except for mine. After I re-read what I wrote with detached eyes I was surprised to have gotten the time of day.

Karen Junker
07-05-2011, 11:03 PM
I have been a second reader for a NY publisher of SFF and also I was an editor for a small romance epub for 2 years. I've read a lot of slush.

There are submissions so filled with typos or errors they are not publishable. But there are a lot of submissions that are so good they could be published with very few corrections. So many that the editors don't need to accept the ones that need more work.

So it pays to make your manuscript as clean as possible. Slush itself is not bad--some of the greatest stories published have come from a slush pile.

Jamesaritchie
07-05-2011, 11:44 PM
Slush piles are horrendous. My experience is not at all like Karen Junker's, perhaps because we read different slush. I've gone months without finding a single book I thought was great, and found not nearly enough I thought were simply Good Enough. It's often a matter of taking the best of the worst, just to fill slots.

And never a manuscript, not one, ever, that didn't need at least a little work. Almost every manuscript bought needed a good bit of work.

Many say the top one percent are good, but my experience is that, with any sort of real commercial publisher, only the top one tenth of one percent is good enough to publish.

Chris P
07-05-2011, 11:49 PM
I once thought it would be cool to be a slush reader. Then I joined AW and started hearing the stories from people who've done it. I'll bet the burn out in that occupation is horrendous.

Sevvy
07-06-2011, 12:27 AM
But most slush is neither great nor terrible. Most of what people write and submit is just so dull and mediocre that it isn't even worth sighing over...

I second that. I read the fiction slush for a literary magazine, and while I've never gotten the submission so full of typos it's unreadable, I do get a lot that just aren't good stories. Most of them I don't even want to read past the first page.

Anna L.
07-06-2011, 12:39 AM
I'm a short stories slush reader. My problem is that most of the stories we get are simply 'meh'. They're so plain and pointless that you're left wondering why you bothered reading them. The writing itself is not the issue, it's the content that fails. The ones that make me sad are the ones that are almost there, yet fall short.

Worst offenders:
-Super cliché stories: such as 'creative person cannot create, or is creating while something evil is going on or is creating to keep something evil at bay'. Or 'a guy meets a mysterious woman in a bar and she turns out to be evil or a monster or a murderer'.
-No plot curve stories: stories where an event occurs but there's no action rise, no climax, no conclusion. Pick up a novel, open it to a random page and read a single scene. That's what it feels like.
-Stories consisting ENTIRELY of someone narrating an event or a legend. It's 100% telling, not one drop of showing. It reads like a novel synopsis, not a story.

Chris P
07-06-2011, 12:50 AM
I've posted this before, but it's been a while:

37 overdone story ideas (http://www.strangehorizons.com/guidelines/fiction-common.shtml). Some are quite funny.

seun
07-06-2011, 11:57 AM
Many say the top one percent are good, but my experience is that, with any sort of real commercial publisher, only the top one tenth of one percent is good enough to publish.

Which makes me wonder why so many people think they can write when they apparently can't.

J.W. Alden
07-13-2011, 04:57 AM
I've never been a reader myself, but I once was allowed to peruse a slush pile...and all I'll say is that it raised my self-esteem and confidence as a writer.

Brindle MacWuff
07-13-2011, 11:39 AM
Many say the top one percent are good, but my experience is that, with any sort of real commercial publisher, only the top one tenth of one percent is good enough to publish.

Holy Mother of Fark, the chanes are getting even slimmer. I was aiming for the one percent.....

I think I'll just go back to threats.

Thump
07-13-2011, 12:06 PM
I used to read the slush for a children's publisher. Mostly it wasn't too horrible but you did get the impression that people honestly thought that writing for kids was so easy they didn't need to make any effort. Some of the ideas were quite good but executed with what can only be called extreme laziness >_<

We did have this old Lady (with a big L yes) who called everyone in the office to ask if we had received her manuscript. I don't know how she got individual extension numbers but she did. Then in the afternoon, it came and I opened the envelope to find her stories on assorted bits of paper, with very faded ink, illegible hand writing... We had a good laugh X-D oh the English aristocracy...;)