I think writers interpret the Slush Pile as a bad thing, when really, agents love our slush pile. It’s where we find our amazing debut authors! Yes, it can be an overwhelming thing for us to sort through–which is why you hear the groans–but sometimes we’re amazed at what we see.
Here’s why you should be glad to be in the Slush Pile:
1. The great projects rise to the top. We see so much in the slush pile via unsolicited queries that it becomes clear what is great and what is okay, what makes us look twice and what is for someone else. If you follow the query guidelines closely and pitch with careful research you’re already ahead of the hundreds of queries we get a month. Many writers get down when they know the number of queries that agents process. But what they don’t know is that most of them aren’t well researched. If you care enough to carefully select the agents you query you’re rising to the top.
2. You’re taking a professional leap! It’s easy to say you’re not ready, but it takes a confident writer to be able to put themselves out there. Querying is Step One in becoming a professional writer. It means you take yourself seriously and agents should too. This is a writer investing in themselves and their career. And we want to work with writers who are in it for the long haul.
3. We read our slush. Agents that are actively looking to sign authors will be looking in the slush pile. Sure, we go to conferences too, but the primary way we sign new talent is through the slush pile. Non fiction often comes via referral or agents going out and pursuing journalists or experts, however fiction is found via slush 99% of the time. So we have to read our slush in order to find good projects! Any agent building a list or actively looking for new talent will spend time in the slush pile.
Good links on the Slush Pile: