Monday, February 11, 2013

A Great Opportunity!

As we trudge along this winding path we call "The Road to Publication," I think we are always on the lookout for opportunities to bypass the slush pile situation.

A very small amount of research on my part revealed that less than 1% of what is submitted via slush pile will ever be published. (This data is only for a smaller regional press, see see here.) I'd imagine it to be far worse odds for the Big Five Publishing Houses. (I'm not trying to bum anyone out. There are still plenty of people who are lucky enough to be picked out of the slush, myself included :)

But are there ways to avoid the slush piles of agents or small presses?

The answer is YES!!! How, you ask? Here are some ideas:
  • Go to conferences and pitch to agents/editors (if they request pages then they usually tell you to put "REQUESTED MATERIAL" in the subject line of your query and that will effectively pull you out of the slush pile)
  • Participate in fellow writer's blog contests where agents or editors are requesting pages based on pitches or pages.
  • Follow agents or editors on Twitter and establish a rapport with them so that when they see your name pop up in their inbox, they might take special note. 
  • Submit to the Query Shark and let her rip your head off before she asks for pages! Good luck with that one.
  • Or...participate in agent sponsored contests. Like my agent, Sarah Davies' Greenhouse Funny Prize, for example! 
The details on the Funny Prize:

Last year Greenhouse ran the first Funny Prize, a competition to find new funny writing talent. They had over 700 entries and Pip Jones was the winner. Pip’s book, SQUISHY McFLUFF, THE INVISIBLE CAT, sold quickly to Faber Children’s Books in a 4 book pre-empt!

Greenhouse had such a great time working on the prize that they decided to do it again. And bigger. This year they've opened it up to the world, so if you’re American or Canadian, or writing from anywhere on the planet (as long as your work is in the English language) then you should enter.

The judging criteria is very simple. Funny, and open children's books of all ages. The deadline for submissions is Monday, 29 July. 

Any other ideas/links on how to jump out of the slush pile?


  1. Good suggestions-- congratulations on being one of the chosen slushies!

  2. My agent found me in the slush, so it really does work. I also received an offer of rep via an online contest so I know those work too. If you can get a referral from a friend (who is a client of a certain agent) it may be a good way to get pushed to the front of the slush pile...I've seen it a few times.

  3. Don't forget, there are hundreds of small publishers who do not require writers to have an agent for submission. It's often much easier to get their attention directly than through an agent.

  4. Gosh, there are so many paths, aren't there? I know I had offers with slush, a referral, and from an agent I met at a conference, so I think the best thing is to put yourself out there. It's good to take chances, to walk up to that agent across the room and introduce yourself, to participate in online contests, and to just plain old query. We each have a different path, and it's cool to see how different each of our stories are. :)

  5. Great idea to follow them on Twitter or their blog. Finding someone to let you use their name is a great way to stand out but it's hard to find people willing to do that.

  6. Ditto what Ilima said. Referrals never hurt! :)

    Great post, Jessie!

  7. Words of wisdom to remember as I head down the path....thanks!

  8. One day I will be brave enough and prepared enough to pitch at a conference! I might need you to push me through the door though! :) I'm such a wimp. hehehe

    1. Leigh! You better believe that I'll push you, kick you, chuck you into a pitch session! Let's definitely schedule that for Storymakers! :)

  9. One day I will be not a slushie, but a glorious smoothie :D

    Great advice! Gives me a little bit of hope.

  10. Awesome advice, and thanks for the tips! I'd like to go to a conference and pitch my work to agents/editors (though not right now, because I still have to revise the stuff I've written). The idea of approaching them in person is nerve-wracking, but I'm sure I'll learn from the experience, at the very least.

  11. sounds fantastic! i will surely submit! need to make time for this. and pitching & contests are great exposure!

  12. So very true! I need to do a live pitch. I think it would be good for me.

  13. I second the advice on going to conferences and pitching! Plus, you get to meet lots of cool writer people too. :)

  14. Ha! Such a great contest! Thanks for sharing, Jessie. Sounds like a fabulous opportunity!

    And I third the advice to go to conferences and pitch.

  15. What a cool contest! I totally agree that lots of things can help you get ahead of the slush. I met my agent on Twitter, actually, and I HIGHLY recommend Twitter for networking with agents and editors!

  16. Oh, I think I would love to be a judge for that. How fun!