The Secret Dreamworld of an Aspiring Author by Anna Bell - Slushpile Success
I was reading the Novelicious interview with Louise Candlish last week and what she said got me thinking. Ten years ago she wrote a novel, submitted it to agents, got an agent who sold the novel straight away. She then wondered if the traditional route to being published would be that simple now. And it got me thinking, does slushpile success still happen?
I’ve read countless author interviews where authors wrote (or in some cases partially wrote) manuscripts and sent them to slushpiles and got published. But these all came from authors who now have an established career and multiple books under their belt.
I’ve been racking my brains for stories of people I’ve met since my writing journey began to think of anyone that has had slushpile success. I’ve met a few aspiring authors who have agents, but they got them either a long a time ago or they got them from meeting them in another way.
I’ve had personal feedback from agents that I’ve found really useful in taking my writing forward. I’ve also known others that have had excellent suggestions and almost mini critiques from agents when they’re being rejected. Pointers and suggestions like that are really useful and almost worth the rejection! But aside from that I haven’t heard of anyone being snapped up from the slushpile
I’ve often cited in my columns the need for positivity to look on the inspirational stories of success on the rocky road to publication. J.K Rowling being turned down, Nicholas Sparks having countless rejections before publication, but both of those authors were submitting work more than ten years ago.
In a publishing world that is changing beyond recognition, particularly with the rise of self publishing, is it even harder to get picked off the pile?
I’ve heard so many aspiring authors tell me recently that they’re fed up of sending their work to agents and getting rejected and are now going down the self-publishing route. I’m sure that many, like me, are still hoping that one day they’ll be get an agent and a traditional publisher.
I don’t think I’m brave enough to tackle the traditional slushpile too many times a year. I personally hate the fact that for 6-8 weeks I’m constantly checking email/phone/post and then getting disappointed when I get a standard rejection back. I’ve subbed to two slushpiles this year and I think that was about enough for me. I’m much more content to keep doing my ebooks and then perhaps sending off submissions every so often just to see, without pinning all my hopes and dreams on them.
I guess like any fairy tale, I need to renew my faith in the possibility of slushpile success. If you’ve heard a recent story of slushpile success, please do share it - it might help me and other aspiring authors to realise that subbing to the pile is worthwhile after all!