Jules Week: Part 2 is in danger of becoming List Day. I promise next time I’ll find something else, but for today I’m going to leave you…
The Top 5 Ways to Claw Your Way Out of the Slush Pile.
1) Be Interesting.
ehehe. Yeah. You’re allowed to throw tomatoes at me for that one. Because you’re not already trying, right?
And I get that because obviously I’ve been there too. And I know like every writing book in existence is all ‘no no no don’t try to be cute they see so much of this stuff they won’t appreciate it’ and that’s absolutely true. I don’t want the equivalent of pink scented paper, or your submission taped to a fruit basket full of specially crafted, kissed by a monk, shipped on a winged angel pears. Don’t try too hard.
The best way to make me interested in your book is tell me the thing you like the most about it. Tell me what drew you to the story, why you love it, why it’s special to you. Much as I sometimes wish we had a robot to read the slush, we do not. I (and everyone else reading it) am a human being and sometimes I even like other human beings. Be one, and you stand a better chance of getting my attention.
2) Read the Tin.
I cannot stress this enough. No matter how good your book is, if you can’t follow simple submission directions I can almost promise you’re not going to follow editorial directions and aint nobody got time for that. I can also promise I probably wont even read it. Like more than a page.
Because sometimes an hour into the slush I’m petty and vindictive and it’s probably not fair, but you are forewarned.
3) Don’t be a Jerk.
I shouldn’t have to say that, right? That should be obvious. Asking someone to consider your work by being superior and (insert any number of inappropriate words I thought of but am not going to write in a professional setting) is almost guaranteed not to get you any traction. I know everyone knows like one story where so and so in Hollywood walked up to Famous Person A and brashed their way into a movie deal.
I am not Famous Person A, and all you will brash your way into is the curtest rejection I can muster.
4) Do Your Research.
Still–still–we see submissions targeted at utterly the wrong place, written for the wrong market, scatter shot at our inbox. I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again. If you want out of the slush pile with good results then pay attention to where you’re going in at.
5) Know Your Craft.
Absolutely nothing is as disheartening as getting to the end–or the middle–of something I really liked, and having it go to pot. Now with books there’s more leeway with this. If I make it halfway through your book and it goes horrible and I’m disheartened then I liked it enough to care, at some point there, and we’ll probably talk about it.
Short stories and poems aren’t supposed to really get an editorial process. And sometimes with us they do, because emerging markets and all that, but the point still remains. Find someone who writes the things you want to write, and make sure all their story bits (beginning, middle, end, twist–if you can manage it without making me hate you) wind up in your story.