Don't Query Via Twitter/Why I Don't Read the Slush Pile Anymore (via @bloomsburypress, HT: @v11oyd)

It's been a while since I've posted a RtFGl (ie. read the friendly guidelines) article, but this fit the bill. Peter Ginna from Bloomsbury Press talks about his early, optimistic days, reading through piles of unsolicited print manuscripts arriving at a publisher with a stated policy of no longer accepting unsolicited, unagented submissions:

[...] but I thought authors shouldn't be penalized just because they had not been able to find a literary agent. Perhaps I would find a work too original, too daring for the commercial-minded book peddlers to have picked it up, or discover a rustic genius who had banged out the great American novel at her kitchen table and sent it off to publishers without even knowing what agents were. After all, the tales of bestselling authors who have been discovered in the slush pile (such as Tom Clancy and Martha Grimes) were the stuff of industry legend.

What he discovered, of course, wasn't just that most of the manuscripts weren't really of a publishable standard: many of them were simply not appropriate for their imprint. Sending a YA manuscript to a non-fiction publisher?

They have not gone through the thought process, or done the legwork, necessary to put a well-targeted pitch into the mailbox of a specific person, they have trusted to luck or perhaps the dazzling quality of their work, or they simply haven't thought about it one way or the other. That doesn't mean they aren't gifted; maybe they are naive, untutored geniuses. But it does mean they're not professionals. They aren't thinking about their work or their careers in a businesslike way. And that simply means the odds  that they can be successfully published are really slim.

So we're back to what I would call the Second Rule of Writing: read the friendly guidelines. It tells the publisher immediately that you have passed the most basic test of approaching your writing in a professional manner.

(Note, the First Rule of Writing is: 'Sit the fuck down and write'). The reason it has more expletives than the second rule (which can also accommodate an expletive), is that it's more important than the second rule.

Peter points out towards the end of his article that nowadays writers are using twitter to perform this kind of unprofessional dump-and-run, sending gems like...

Hey, @BloomsburyPress, I've written a teen paranormal romance. Ppl say it's next TWILIGHT-DM me for details! a NON-FICTION imprint, and then getting angry and rude when they are politely told to do their homework.

Read the full article and Peter's suggestions here:


Things Learned from Reading the Slushpile via @Nayad Monroe

Nayad Monroe writes the appropriately titled blog 'Never Forget That Writers Are Insane'. She lists things she has learned from her experience reading unsolicited submissions. It's worth checking out if you need some guidance on how to stand out in the crowd.

My personal favourite was number 5:

A person who has read thousands of story submissions doesn't have any patience left. I'm very sorry, but it's true. I get fidgety. I've read the beginning of so many stories, and I've seen so many of the common ideas that come through, and I've been so disappointed by stories that started well but ended badly. You might not believe the enthusiasm I feel when a story shows me something new, something expressed beautifully, with ideas thought through so that I don't get distracted by implausibility. I LOVE an excellent short story. I have low tolerance for a mediocre one.

Read the rest here: