Suspend Your Disbelief

Shop Talk |

All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my slushpile.



With self-publishing on the rise, anyone can be an author. No more slush pile! No more snooty agents and editors as gatekeepers! The public will decide which books succeed through the glories of democracy!

But what happens to the readers in this scenario? That’s what Laura Miller asks on As she puts it, is the public prepared to meet the slush pile?

You’ve either experienced slush or you haven’t, and the difference is not trivial. People who have never had the job of reading through the heaps of unsolicited manuscripts sent to anyone even remotely connected with publishing typically have no inkling of two awful facts: 1) just how much slush is out there, and 2) how really, really, really, really terrible the vast majority of it is. Civilians who kvetch about the bad writing of Dan Brown, Stephenie Meyer or any other hugely popular but critically disdained novelist can talk as much trash as they want about the supposedly low standards of traditional publishing. They haven’t seen the vast majority of what didn’t get published — and believe me, if you have, it’s enough to make your blood run cold, thinking about that stuff being introduced into the general population.

Have you ever read any slush? Does that affect your feelings about self-publishing?

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