Slush Pile…It’s a Mindset

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Feb 24 2022

It’s not news that I do not like the term slush pile. I’m not sure why it bugs me so much, but it really bugs me. Unreasonably so. I guess to me it feels disrespectful to authors and also I just don’t think it’s used correctly. In my mind, a slush pile is something publishers have, not agents.

The Definition of Slush Pile

Okay, so I looked, the formal definition of slush pile is actually unsolicited material sent to publishers. That’s what I always thought and that’s why I always wondered why agents use it. I mean, isn’t 99% of what agents receive either unsolicited or requested from queries. Where’s the slush? Unless you accept full manuscripts without requesting them first, which most don’t.

My View of My Inbox–No Slush There

The way I handle my query inbox is that I accept queries. From there I request submissions. Everything is, then, by definition, solicited. No slush.

But also, “slush.” What a gross term. That’s the dirty brown stuff you find at the curb, sometimes with yellow spots. It’s ever-present in Wintery cities and it ruins my boots.

My inbox is not a dirty slush pile. It’s a place of joy and possibility. More of a treasure chest I have yet to open. Maybe filled with gold coins, maybe donuts, maybe something tarnished or rusty, but still curious enough to examine.

You won’t find me ever using the term slush to describe my query inbox. It’s not correct, but also, it’s mindset. I don’t want to dive into slush. I do want to dive into a treasure chest.

10 responses to “Slush Pile…It’s a Mindset”

  1. Avatar Rose Cappelli says:

    “a place of joy and possibility” —how lovely. Thank you!

  2. Avatar Paddy Raghunathan says:

    Jessica,

    A tennis analogy comes to mind. My favorite player is Nadal. Nadal won’t throw a tantrum or smash his racket. He finds it a joy to hold his racket.

    But every agent, as long as they are doing their job with integrity, should be respected, even if the call submissions a “slush pile.”

    It behooves us, as budding authors (and I daresay established authors as well), to keep improving upon our writing skills, and send agents something that’s worth their while.

    Best regards.

    Paddy

  3. Avatar Sandra says:

    I love how you describe this! I like to visualize the “ treasure chest” of manuscripts, some sparkling jewels and some with not so bright hues, but waiting patiently to be discovered. They are someone’s special pot of gold. Thank you!

  4. Thank you. It would be wonderful to have doughnuts attached to emails.

  5. I wish I could “like” a blog post. This made me tear up.

    Also, if there is a way to do it, yes, I am embarrassed at my occasional technological ineptitude

  6. […] And agent Jessica Faust dislikes the term “slush pile,” and sees her submissions as “a place of joy and opportunity.” […]

  7. Avatar Anna Maledon says:

    I’ve always thought slush pile is an awful name. Quite disrespectful, really.

  8. Avatar Ekta Garg says:

    I’d love to change “slush pile” to “TBR pile.” We all have books that are on our TBR list. Some we get to. Some we don’t. Some we love. Some we don’t. It’s totally fine either way and has a much more benign meaning. It’s essentially books (or manuscripts) a person hasn’t gotten to yet.

    If I were an agent, that’s probably what I would say and keep saying it until the writers/editors/publishers in my orbit (even if they were annoyed by me changing the terminology) started saying it too.

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