No two words strike more fear in the heart of a writer than "slush pile". And I think no two words cause more confusion for a writer as well.
Whether you are a newbie writer or established author, sometimes it's hard to either figure out exactly what an agent or publisher wants to see in a subbed manuscript, or even what a slush pile is. So let's clear up confusion number one...
What exactly IS a slush pile? Simply put, it's where all manuscripts end up if they haven't been specifically requested by an agent or publisher. No matter how fantabulous your story is, if the right person doesn't request it, you're still going to fight to make your way to the top of the stack..
So what's a writer to do?
Bottom line, you want your story to have the best chance to catch the eye of that agent or publisher who will be so blown away by your stellar storytelling style they can hardly wait to mail that fat advance check to you, right?
Well, I can't guarantee THAT, but I CAN tell you five ways to help you avoid swimming at the bottom of some poor publishing assistant's "to read someday" stack. Here they are:
1. Writer's Conferences...if you can afford it, conferences are one of the best ways to meet agents and publishers face to face. Publishing professionals are only human and that human connection, along with a perfectly polished pitch, might just be the thing to get a request for your manuscript.
2. Twitter Pitch Parties...participating in pitch parties like #PitchMas, #PitMad, and others are the next best thing to meeting agents and publishers face to face. Participating in a Twitter pitch party is how I met my editor, Jessica Schmeidler, and the rest as they say is history.
3. Agent Contests...entering contests like Miss Snark's Monthly Secret Agent Contest at http://misssnarksfirstvictim.blogspot.com/p/secret-agent.html or checking out more contests at http://www.routinesforwriters.com/contests/ helps get your pitches out there where agents and publishers can see them. It only takes one well crafted pitch to entice them to ask for more.
4. Publishing Contests...there are literally hundreds of contests out there offering publication as part of the prize package. Valid sites to check out include the Poets & Writer's list at http://www.pw.org/grants?gclid=COX1otb09sICFcKHaQod6SkAeA, Pen America's list at https://www.pen.org/ns-grants-and-awards?gclid=CNLwkpr19sICFZOCaQodnYwAdg, or even specific submission sites like Creative Nonfiction at https://www.creativenonfiction.org/submissions.
5, Author Platform & Social Networking...the path to publication is long and rocky and weighed down in twisty curves to frustrate the newbie writer. Building a strong author platform to include a website or blog, Facebook Author Page, Twitter presence, Pinterest boards, etc. shows potential agents & publishers you are deeply committed to your craft and your career. Seek out the agents or publishers you are interested in and connect with them through social sites. Take the time to interact with them on their blogs, on Twitter and Facebook. One of those connections could eventually be just the thing you need to garner that coveted manuscript request.
There you have it. Publishing is a subjective business and as a professional writer, you must do your due diligence to make sure your manuscript has the best chance to avoid the dreaded slush pile.
I hope you learned something new today and be sure to check back tomorrow for the next post in my month long celebration!
You can preorder my book, THE STORY CATCHER, now through Amazon, www.amazon.com, or Barnes & Noble, www.barnesandnoble.com. It is available in both ebook and print copies. Here is the book blurb and book trailer.
Addie comes from a long line of readers, or "story catchers," as her family likes to call themselves. Every time Addie tries to catch a story on her own, though, the words play tricks on her. Addie tries everything she can think of to corral those wiggly letters, but it will take a little faith to become the next STORY CATCHER.