Thursday, January 21, 2010

Just FYI: Slush is Dead And Other Bad News


Yeah, so it looks like anthrax killed the slush pile.  Huh? There's an interesting article from the Wall Street Journal posted at 411 Mania (scroll down to the subhead about Jim Webber) on the topic.  Here's a highlight: "Book publishers say it is now too expensive to pay employees to read slush that rarely is worthy of publication. At Simon & Schuster, an automated telephone greeting instructs aspiring writers: "Simon & Schuster requires submissions to come to us via a literary agent due to the large volume of submissions we receive each day. Agents are listed in 'Literary Marketplace,' a reference work published by R.R. Bowker that can be found in most libraries." Company spokesman Adam Rothberg says the death of the publisher's slush pile accelerated after the terror attacks of 9/11 by fear of anthrax in the mail room."  

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

WR,

Don't big publishers have a slushpile of submissions that come from unknown agents? So, couldn't an author just submit a manuscript as if he/she were an agent? I think this would work nicely if you wrote under a pen name--use your real name for the agency name, and the pen name for the author name. Could you explain why this wouldn't work? I mean, your novel might not get read, but it would get past the door.

Gordon Jerome said...

I just found this blog. I'm going to link to it on my blog and give it a good reading later. So far, I really like the idea of it.

If you don't want me to link to your blog on mine, however, just let me know, and I'll take it down.

Gordon Jerome said...

Oh wow, comment moderation. I see now why there's no comments. Oh well, I still like the content

NM said...

Anon,

Part of what makes an agent a good one is relationships with publishers and knowing what specific editors are looking for at the moment of submission. An "unknown agent" isn't any better than a raw slush submission.

So, on one level you're right—authors can pretend to be their own agents, but they won't get very far that way either.

Anonymous said...

I know a musician who made up a manager for himself. He gave the fake guy a totally crazy name, something like Biz Lapidary, thinking that record labels would be like, "Biz Lapidary... yeah, that sounds sort of familiar!" after a couple of submissions (or whatever they do in the music industry).

I'm sure it didn't work as well as a real agent, but it got him some gigs, anyway...

Writer, Rejected said...

S imilar idea: In her later one-woman-show years, the actor/entertainer Elaine Stritch worked as her own agent/manager. When she was on agenting duty, she'd call and say, "This is Ms. Stritch calling for Elaine." If she was being herself, the talent, she'd say, "Hi, it's Elaine." It worked pretty well for her, I think.