A slush pile is a stack of unsolicited manuscripts that have been submitted to a publisher, editor, or agent. The term is often used in a negative way, implying that the manuscripts are of poor quality or are unlikely to be accepted.
The slush pile is the place where most writers’ dreams go to die. The vast majority of manuscripts that are submitted to publishers, agents, and editors are never read, let alone published. In fact, most of them never even make it out of the slush pile.
Why is this? There are a few reasons. First, the sheer volume of submissions that a publisher or editor receives can be overwhelming. They simply can’t read them all. Second, many of the submissions are not appropriate for the publisher or editor’s needs. They may be the wrong genre, or not well written, or not a good fit for the publisher’s list.
So what happens to all those manuscripts that don’t make it out of the slush pile? Most of them are simply rejected, often without even being read. The lucky few may receive a form letter or a personal rejection, but most will get nothing more than a cursory glance before being relegated to the recycle bin.
So if your dream is to see your manuscript in print, you’ll need to do more than just submit it to a publisher and hope for the best. You’ll need to do your research to make sure you’re submitting to the right publisher, and you’ll need to make sure your manuscript is the best it can be. But even then, there’s no guarantee that it will make it out of the slush pile.
The importance of the slush pile is that it gives new authors a chance to be published. While it is true that most manuscripts in the slush pile are not of publishable quality, there are diamonds in the rough that are worth taking a chance on. In a world where it is increasingly difficult to get published, the slush pile is one of the few places where new authors can still have a chance at getting their work out there.