Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Slush

Along with all of the other blueboarders, I'm into this new blog. This is like the Miss Snark of the editorial set, and lets you get into the head of this elusive species: editorialus newyorkikus. One of the recent posts was on the enormity of the slush pile. This editor gets 15,000 pieces of slush (what we in the biz called unrequested manuscripts for you non-writerly friends of mine) each year. As she demonstrates, this is an amazing amount of mail. Why do writers keep sending slush? Because sometimes, occasionally, once-in-a-while something gets picked up. How do I know? Because mine did.

My first picture book was picked from the slush pile by an editor that I had no relationship with and had never seen speak at a conference. I did get her name from a writer friend of mine, but that's it. She didn't know me from Eve, but thought that the book was good enough to warrant a second look. Is this because my writing is vastly superior to everyone else's in the pile? As much as I'd like to think so, the answer is no. Much of that success can be attributed to the following:

1. Mentor. I got a mentor who told me that my first writing was crap and stopped me from sending it around. By the time I was ready to send stuff out I knew a lot more than I did in the beginning. Don't submit your first attempt. It's garbage, I guarantee it.
2. Research. I joined a lot of writers boards, read a lot of books and learned not only how to write, but how to submit and not look like an idiot. I tried not to give them an easy reason to toss my stuff in the recycling.
3. Something different. I got an idea that I'd never seen before, but would still work as a picture book. Trust me, my first story had several talking animals in it.
4. Dumb luck. This MS landed in the hands of the right editor at the right time. A lot of this business is timing. Just before this book was accepted, it had earned a half-page form rejection from another house.

Getting plucked from the slush pile is a lot like playing the lottery, and I hate to say it to all of those editors out there who's very lives are in jeopardy from the towering mountains of slush; you can't win if you don't play. Now, if only my slush-pile manuscript came with a $28 million dollar prize spread out over 20 years, we'd be in business.

On this date: In 1967, Elvis married Priscilla.

1 comment:

Linda D. said...

Thanks for the link, Cynthia.

I'm not ready to 'play' in the slush pile, but I'm getting close. Looking forward to it ... sort of.