9 Ways to Remain in the Slush Pile

Posted by Rita Lorraine

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Hi Everybody,
Hope you’re all well! Just stopping thru with some words of wisdom for aspiring writers. These words involve the dreaded “slush pile.”

Definitions: The slush pile is “a stack of unsolicited manuscripts — usually pushed off to the side or languishing in a corner — that have been sent to a publishing company for consideration. “Unsolicited” means nobody asked you to send it.

Here are nine problems I’ve encountered when working with newbie writers, and they’re just about guaranteed to keep them in the slush piles.

1. Thinking you’ve discovered a new formula for getting published: There is no new formula. You must have an idea, write it down, edit your writing (or have it edited), hone your craft, and know your way around the publishing arena. It’s as simple as that.

2. Refusing to join a critique group: If you’re convinced you don’t have time to participate, or if you believe it’s all about your work and nobody else’s (and you don’t want to “waste time” working on someone else’s novel), you’re going to miss out on some wonderful connections and a truck-load of editing opportunities.

3. Refusing to read other writers’ work – or to read anything at all, for that matter: The well-read writer writes well. But if you never open a book on your craft, or read other books in your genre, how can you hope to know what’s good writing and what isn’t?

4. Refusing to read your work out loud: Your brain remembers everything you write and everything you meant to write, so it can trick you when you look over your work. That’s why it’s important to read your work aloud. Simply put, your ears will usually catch what your brain doesn’t.

5. Neglecting to edit your own work for errors: High self-esteem is great, but believing that your first draft is a work of perfection is just…well, silly. Put your work aside for a week or so, then pick it up again. You’ll be shocked at how many errors you find.

6. Not correcting mistakes that have already been pointed out: If an editor/publisher has pointed out your mistakes in a first draft, for pete’s sake, correct them! Re-submitting your work with the same mistakes shows that you really don’t value your editor’s/publisher’s skills. And that’s a no-no.

7. Implying that your editor/publisher doesn’t know what she’s talking about: The fact that you sought your editor/publisher out in the first place means you felt she knew things you didn’t. Don’t insult her by arguing with every suggestion she makes, or leaving things in the manuscript that she told you to toss. You’ll wear her out, and she’ll consign you to blackest hell–er, I mean the slush pile.

8. Insisting on searching for a shortcut to publishing: Spending more time trying to find “the key” to getting published quickly, or the shortcut to publishing utopia, will just lead you to a dead end. You might as well search for the Fountain of Youth. Do it the right way; work you way up, and you’ll get there.

9. Refusing to hone your craft: Feeling you’re too advanced, too busy, or too good to hone your own craft is a big mistake. It’s like implying that YOU don’t think YOU’RE important enough to invest in. Never turn down the opportunity to get better at what you do.

I hope this list helps you in your quest to become a published writer.

Best wishes and happy writing,
Rita Lorraine

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