5 Ways To Avoid The Slush Pile

by Donna L Martin


No two words strike more fear in the heart of a writer than “slush pile”. And I think no two words cause more confusion for a writer as well.

Whether you are a newbie writer or established author, sometimes it’s hard to either figure out exactly what an agent or publisher wants to see in a subbed manuscript, or even what a slush pile is. So let’s clear up confusion number one…

What exactly IS a slush pile? Simply put, it’s where all manuscripts end up if they haven’t been specifically requested by an agent or publisher. No matter how fantabulous your story is, if the right person doesn’t request it, you’re still going to fight to make your way to the top of the stack..

So what’s a writer to do?

Bottom line, you want your story to have the best chance to catch the eye of that agent or publisher who will be so blown away by your stellar storytelling style they can hardly wait to mail that fat advance check to you, right?

Well, I can’t guarantee THAT, but I CAN tell you five ways to help you avoid swimming at the bottom of some poor publishing assistant’s “to read someday” stack. Here they are:

1. Writer’s Conferences…if you can afford it, conferences are one of the best ways to meet agents and publishers face to face. Publishing professionals are only human and that human connection, along with a perfectly polished pitch, might just be the thing to get a request for your manuscript.

2. Twitter Pitch Parties…participating in pitch parties like #PitchMas, #PitMad, and others are the next best thing to meeting agents and publishers face to face. Participating in a Twitter pitch party is a great way to network and possibly even meet your next future agent!

3. Agent Contests…entering contests like Miss Snark’s Monthly Secret Agent Contest at http://misssnarksfirstvictim.blogspot.com/p/secret-agent.html helps get your pitches out there where agents and publishers can see them. It only takes one well crafted pitch to entice them to ask for more.

4. Publishing Contests…there are literally hundreds of contests out there offering publication as part of the prize package. Valid sites to check out include the Poets & Writer’s list at http://www.pw.org/grants?gclid=COX1otb09sICFcKHaQod6SkAeA, or even specific submission sites like Creative Nonfiction at http://www.creativenonfiction.org/submissions.

5, Author Platform & Social Networking…the path to publication is long and rocky and weighed down in twisty curves to frustrate the newbie writer. Building a strong author platform to include a website or blog, Facebook Author Page, Twitter presence, Pinterest boards, etc. shows potential agents & publishers you are deeply committed to your craft and your career. Seek out the agents or publishers you are interested in and connect with them through social sites. Take the time to interact with them on their blogs, on Twitter and Facebook. One of those connections could eventually be just the thing you need to garner that coveted manuscript request.

There you have it. Publishing is a subjective business and as a professional writer, you must do your due diligence to make sure your manuscript has the best chance to avoid the dreaded slush pile.






Amelia Earmouse travels back through time to uncover little known secrets. You may THINK you know your history, but wait until you see what Amelia uncovers in this latest volume of HISTORY’S MYSTERIES!

In Book One, Ship of Dreams, ten-year-old Margaret can hardly wait to see the largest ship ever built visit Southampton! Life is already hard for her family in the spring of 1912, but the coal workers’ strike could turn a bad situation into a deadly one. Margaret hopes to see the great Titanic leave on its maiden voyage, but will the strike prevent it from happening?




donna - Copy


Best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, HISTORY’S MYSTERIES: Ship of Dreams, is available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers. Also, coming soon to the Titanic Museums in Branson, Missouri, and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee!

Donna L

Hybrid award winning author; aspiring sketch artist; and 4th Degree Senior Certified Taekwondo Instructor. Host of BOOK NOOK REVIEWS. Member of SCBWI. Mom to fabulous son and adventurer delving into the tricky world of indie-publishing.

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