Schadenfreude, or Why I am Happy This Morning

It is easy to doubt the quality of your writing, when you sit alone at a desk all day long.  But then, sometimes, the gods smile on you and send you this blog, SlushPile Hell, and you get a chance to feel really, really smug.  Because of course you would never send a query letter like that to an agent.  Case in point: the June 20th entry:

My 318,000 word novel may seem like it starts a little slow, but after the first 100 pages or so it really picks up steam, so I hope you will be patient and not be distracted.

Heh heh.

It is true there are a lot of scary statistics out there about how likely one is to ever get a book published.  Author Maggie Stiefvater wrote a blog post that talks about how, statistically, you are more likely to get killed by a ham sandwich than be published. (I am not entirely sure if this fact is vetted; personally I think you might want to Google if before using it in your dissertation or something).

But her point, despite what it might sound like, was rather positive. In short, she states that most people who try and write a book not only suck, but they suck bad.  They don’t do their homework on genres.  They don’t revise.  They don’t check that they are querying appropriate agents.  They just spew their suckage onto a Word doc and send it in.

She is not wrong. I know because for a while I was in charge of the slush pile at a literary agency.  It is true that sometimes we rejected really good stuff that just wasn’t the right fit.  But the vast majority of my reading pile (and it was a real live pile of paper…when I was a kid we didn’t have this “e-mail” or whatever you kids call it) fell squarely into the grouping I called WTF.  As in, WTF, why is this the third proposal this morning that has been channeled by a higher power?  Or, WTF,  do you really think telling me that 100 other agents have rejected it is going to make me more interested?  In short, most people were trying to sell…this:

No matter how you package it, Barf is still Barf

So I take heart.  Because no matter what I write, I am more likely to get published than this guy, who wrote:

I have yet to be published, but that is only because I have yet to try.
Thank you SlushPile Hell, for my moment of Schadenfreude.

1 comment to Schadenfreude, or Why I am Happy This Morning

  • Slushing through the slush pile….
    Everything rang so true — so okay, in the name of truthfullness, I am one of those aunts who was on Nantucket, and I also have published an awful lot…but my first book kept getting rejections even after it was published by a major publishers (Delacorte) and 40 years later, with several thousands of acres deforested — I can still get rejections….but publishing is always looking….and so the truth is that you just don’t know — and besides a ham sandwich never killed anyone…except maybe Mama Cass, and she wasn’t even Jewish…

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