Archive for the ‘slush pile’ Tag

Slush Puppies   4 comments

No, I am not talking about the delicious and often fattening ice drink that can give you a migraine if indulged in too fast. I’m talking about the untold numbers of dedicated, desperate, and generally destitute masses known as the aspiring authors. You know, people like ME!

For the readers out there who may not get the joke, a slush pile is any pile of manuscripts, or queries, that we hope to work our way up through just to get some attention for our stories. Come to think of it, a few bucks wouldn’t break any hearts either. Put untold years into working for peanuts, or for free, in a career you love and you’ll see what I mean pretty darn quick.

An ongoing discussion on the AgentQuery Connect boards about the rise in E-books started my musing about this and I realized that, “I AM a Slush Puppy!” Don’t laugh too hard. If you happen to be an aspiring author, so are you. Just choose your flavor, and in a moment we’ll try to figure a strategy out of this mess. I dibs Blueberry!

Whether your trying to land an agent and get into the continually shrinking world of traditional publishing, or thinking about self-publishing, the result is going to be the same. Your work is still going to be mired in the La Brea Tar Pits known as the slush pile.

If you DO happen to land an agent, then your work ends up in the publisher’s slush pile. If you DO get a contract with a publisher and get published, (Please, please, please!!), then you wind up in the slush pile known as the book rack. Barring all this and going the self-publishing route, Print On Demand, or E-book, you wind up in the biggest slush pile of them all! Why? Because nearly everybody, their giddy aunt, and their uncle thinks they can write.

That last part probably made me sound like Simon Cowell with a bad case of hemorrhoids, but it is the truth. It is also true that some would-be writers should have restraining orders put on them, barring them from coming within twenty yards of a keyboard. As far as I know, I could be one of them!

The point is, if you do have a good novel out there it is not only stuck in the slush pile, but jackasses like me are competing with you. And we’re probably making it harder for you to get noticed so you can get out of the slush pile. But, there is hope.

First, and foremost you must be willing to work your backside off on your story. Do not make the mistake of thinking that every line, every scene, every word of your story is golden. It isn’t. The goal is to turn out the best story you possibly can, and little snits like the ones below are just going to see you sucked further down into black tar oblivion.

“I can cut a thousand words from my epic 530,000k story, but that’s it! I refuse to cut anymore!” Well, then, I don’t think much about your ability as a writer. If you can’t be more concise, or have the imagination to rework the story and have the same thing with fewer words, your in a whole heap of trouble, my friend. At the very least you should be able to find a reasonable cut off area and make two stories out of it. Psssst! The editors aren’t going to think much about your abilities, either, Chuckles.

“This reviewer sucks! I are a great writer, and I has the reviews to prove it!” No. You are a whinny little snot who can not take criticism, and you’ve just proven to every agent and editor out there that you would be the most difficult SOB to work with since Adolph Hitler. Not to mention you just turned off thousands of potential readers by showing them your not willing to improve for their sake. Get over yourself, and grow up. You were lucky enough to get a review, but too stupid to turn a negative into a positive.

Those are just a couple of examples, but I’m sure you have the picture. As a writer it is our job to tell the best story we can, and be willing to do whatever is necessary to improve. That’s the first step out of the slush pile.

The second step is to get out there and make friends. Without them you are sunk. Now, what I’m talking about here are literary friends. Although technically other writers are your competition, they are also your greatest asset. It’s just like any other part of the entertainment business. Celebrities have friends in their line of work who are potential competition, but they still support each other. It’s the same thing in the literary world. You can’t make it all by your onesies out there and without your fellow writers, Gods help you… because no one else will. Above all, do not… I repeat, do not try to fake this. You will be found out eventually.

Make friends with your readers as well. No matter how few. They are your bread and butter. Without them, you might as well go back to writing on role playing fan sites.

The third step is the hardest, and takes more time. Promotion. If no one knows about you, they can’t check out your work. This hearkens back to making friends. Socialize, let people know who you are and what you do. Odds are they will be interested, if you are sincere. People like to know you care about them and their opinion as much you care about your own.

Now that I’ve probably stuck my foot so far in my mouth that I’ll have to call in a surgeon and a Swiss watchmaker to remove it; I’ll end by saying these are certainly not the only steps involved in the transformation from Slush Puppy to author. But, I’d say they are a darn good start.

Remember though… At this point in time, I am still a Slush Puppy. So WTF do I know? 😉