Regarding Slush Pile Reading

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Locket
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Regarding Slush Pile Reading

Post by Locket » January 3rd, 2012, 8:31 pm

I apologize if this question has already been asked and answered (or answered again and again and again, as seems to happen in forums), but I'm looking for some information regarding slush piles. More pertinently, I'm trying to find out how one goes about finding slush piles to read.

Reading manuscripts for agencies has been presented as a good way to break into the publishing industry or to brush up on one's own writing skills. However, I can't seem to find any practical, step-by-step advice on how to get my hands on a slush pile! Most blogs say nothing more than "Contact a literary agency." A few suggest walking in from off the street to speak to an agent in person. Unfortunately, I don't live near any agencies, and many agencies are very careful to not put telephone numbers online, preferring to communicate by email instead.

Is it considered bad manners (or just a waste of time) to cold-email an agency about such a matter? Is there some secret place where agencies advertise for slush readers? (I do realize that slush reading is often the purvey of interns, but many internships are unavailable for those willing to work remotely). And since slush reading is used as a way to get into the industry, how does an agency choose a reader when their applicants may or may not have a resume of previous experience?

Many thanks for any and all answers.

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CharleeVale
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Re: Regarding Slush Pile Reading

Post by CharleeVale » January 3rd, 2012, 8:48 pm

Locket wrote:And since slush reading is used as a way to get into the industry, how does an agency choose a reader when their applicants may or may not have a resume of previous experience?
Maybe I'm out of line, but I've never ever heard of an agency allowing anyone who is interested read their slush pile. I've also never heard that reading the slush pile is a good way to get into the industry. It's kind of a matter of confidentiality, just like the way agents won't reveal the names of queries they talk about, they can't just let anyone read unpublished manuscripts without the permission of the author. Oh the chaos that would ensue!

You're right, interns do get to read the slush a lot of times. THAT right there is the way to get into the industry. Check Bookjobs.com There are agencies and publishers in more places than you think. Off the top of my head: New York, Boston, Washington D.C., Colorado, San Francisco. If you're really serious about it, consider moving to a city with the internship for the length of it. I'm in the process of applying for Summer internships myself.

CV

Locket
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Re: Regarding Slush Pile Reading

Post by Locket » January 4th, 2012, 9:36 am

CharleeVale wrote:
Locket wrote:And since slush reading is used as a way to get into the industry, how does an agency choose a reader when their applicants may or may not have a resume of previous experience?
Maybe I'm out of line, but I've never ever heard of an agency allowing anyone who is interested read their slush pile. I've also never heard that reading the slush pile is a good way to get into the industry. It's kind of a matter of confidentiality, just like the way agents won't reveal the names of queries they talk about, they can't just let anyone read unpublished manuscripts without the permission of the author. Oh the chaos that would ensue!

You're right, interns do get to read the slush a lot of times. THAT right there is the way to get into the industry. Check Bookjobs.com There are agencies and publishers in more places than you think. Off the top of my head: New York, Boston, Washington D.C., Colorado, San Francisco. If you're really serious about it, consider moving to a city with the internship for the length of it. I'm in the process of applying for Summer internships myself.

CV
Actually, Mr. Bransford recommended slush reading in a July 2010 post, and I've read it elsewhere as well, but the very issues you brought up are what have me confused. My understanding is that slush readers are treated as unpaid interns same as normal interns, except their work is solely for slush and is done remotely (sometimes).

I check BookJobs regularly, but the agencies there advertise for in-city interns. It's impossible for me (and many others) to move to another area of the country at the drop of the hat, and it was suggested to me that slush reading would be a good way to build up industry experience while saving up money.

CabSav
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Re: Regarding Slush Pile Reading

Post by CabSav » January 4th, 2012, 6:11 pm

Locket

I think it depends how you define a slush pile. For me, anything with lots of stories makes up a slush pile.

That means any online writing forum has their own pile, including this one.

I haven't touched Authonomy (http://www.authonomy.com) for years, but I was an active member for a while. To me that was one big slush pile. It got to a point where I could read the first paragraph of a story on Authonomy and know if I wanted to keep reading or ditch the story. After a while I could even tell if a story was well written but that I wouldn't like it.

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Rachel Ventura
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Re: Regarding Slush Pile Reading

Post by Rachel Ventura » January 13th, 2012, 1:51 pm

CabSav wrote:I think it depends how you define a slush pile. For me, anything with lots of stories makes up a slush pile.

That means any online writing forum has their own pile, including this one.
I think the whole Internet is just one big slush pile. :lol: Although I'd say 99% of it is more like a landfill than potentially useful "junk," including forums and especially the major social networking sites.

Excluding this one, of course. ;) There's a lot more in terms of intelligent discourse. (What course the rest of the constipated Innertube follows is anyone's guess.) :)

But seriously, folks... Charlee mentioned a site called Book Jobs; there's another, more popular one, called Media Bistro that lists all kinds of publishing jobs and opportunities, not just with book companies but magazines (online and off), newspapers, and other publications. Basically, if it has words in it, and isn't the back of a cereal box, Media Bistro has a good chance of listing it.

Charlee also mentioned how there are lots of pub co's cropping up in more and more places, and she mentioned a few major metro areas. This reminded me of something I found on author Ken Follett's website, when looking for lists of agents, that there are whole listings right there in the Yellow Pages! :D He mentioned agents, which is what I was looking for, and did in fact find; I'm sure you might find pub co's somewhere in there too. If you call your phone company (deliberately old-school on my part) or go the web route and go to yellowbook.com, yp.com, or yelp.co.uk (for the United Kingdom), there's a link to all the categories, or you can just search something like "publishing" and I'm sure something will crop up. The listings, I would think, would be more focused and limited than, say, doctors or lawyers or beauty salons, simply because there are fewer publishing contacts than there are doctors, lawyers, or hairdressers. :D

The internet is still for slush, though, AFAIC (as far as I'm concerned). Avenue Q's assertion notwithstanding. :lol:

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