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Challenging the Slush

Ah, the slush pile. What is it?

A) stacked 7-Eleven drinks

B) defrosted snowmen

C) a collection of drunk writers

D) All of the Above and not what you think

D is correct. And here’s why:

The name of anything is a subjective connotation.

A person’s name could stir wistful memories of lost love, or - for a different person - sighs of relief if their significant other was a bit Looney Tunes.

In writing, title is king. Would "Gone with the Wind" have been as successful if Margaret Mitchell had used one of her other working titles for the novel which included "Tomorrow is Another Day" (maybe), "Not in Our Stars," "Tote the Weary Load,” "Bugles Sang True.” (Wikipedia). Bugles Sang True? Really?

So when I saw this thread on Twitter from Molly Ker Hawn (lit agent at the Jenny Bent Agency), I was thrilled that Slush Pile was finally being challenged.

Submissions from people I don’t know.

Submissions not referred by someone I know.

Yes! Isn’t that what it really is? That’s all it is.

The Statistics

And as I got further into the thread, I found Molly Ker Hawn and Jenny Bent’s statistics encouraging. In a blog that addresses unagented submissions, Jenny Bent states that about 50% of her clients came by way of cold querying. Molly’s was even more exciting: 80%.

Challenging Yourself, Too

There’s a psychological element to how we think about what we’re doing, where we send our babies, how we approach our query letters, and how we hope the agent or publisher will receive our work.

When you are a writer, the querying process is a wait-wait-wait business followed by almost constant rejection. Until it’s not. And you hang your hope on that one Yes which can come from ANYWHERE. You make your luck sometimes by putting yourself out there. Which is scary because what if…?

But then again, what if…?

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