For some odd reason (650 submissions in two days) I’ve been thinking a lot about slush piles.
It’s been 15 years since I had one.
The good news is that an electronic slush pile is a lot more convenient than a paper one.
The bad news is that it’s still a slush pile—a place to put all the manuscripts that have arrived from writers of unknown provenance. As any person involved with publishing can testify, all kinds of things land in the slush pile–everything from the insane meanderings of people who have been off their medications for far too long to truly wonderful books that it’s a privilege to read. I’ve been lucky—most of what I’ve got is actually competent.
That’s also a problem. One of the hardest things in the publishing business is separating the competent from the superlative. It’s going to take me some time to get through all these and make those important decisions.
Slush piles can look very different, depending on where you’re sitting. To a writer hoping to break into the industry, the pile looks like a place of breathless importance, where the newest stars of publishing have entrusted their precious works prior to certain bestsellerdom. To an editorial assistant, the pile looks like opportunity untapped—it’s a place where, thanks to youthful energy and enthusiasm, that editor has an edge. Agents may favor her more experienced counterparts because of long relationships, but she’s got the time and the drive to dig in and find the gems buried in the slush pile. To an overworked senior editor, a slush pile looks like a time sink she can’t afford.
To me, this slush pile looks like my future, and I’m very excited. Some of my slush is (Great happiness!) really, really good. Some is great! I’m working my way through as fast as I can.
So keep it coming. I love a good treasure hunt.