Wednesday, 24 November 2010

What Really Happens with the Slush Pile

The other day I was chatting to a young man about publishing. He revealed he'd spent the summer going through the slush pile of a local publishing house. I asked him what he'd learned from the experience. His response?

1. That many of the entries were written by people who were simply mad.
2. That many entries hadn't thought about who might want to read the material, which was far to personal to be of more general interest.
3. That it was truly incredible how many people sent in manuscripts without any thought for the suitability of the publisher for their work.
4. That it was daft to have a 20 year old judging manuscripts with a view to possible publication.

I actually found that rather cheering. It means that a literate writer who decides to get published and bothers to do their homework re publishers, presentation etc will actually stand out. And I'm not too bothered by the 20 year old bit - he was a sensitive and intelligent young man who had the wit not to dismiss the work out of hand because it didn't immediately appeal to him. If anything, he gave the impression that he'd conscientiously worked hard to overcome any age related bias.

Overall, it's better to have an agent than go through the slush pile, but take heart - if your manuscript is well presented, it should stand out and at least make it to the next round.

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