Hey friends! A few months ago, I started a series called Pitfalls of the Slush Pile. This series is born from my months of experience as a first-reader for Apex Magazine (and loving every moment of it). After reading for a few months, I wanted to extend a helping hand to anyone interested in improving their chances to selling to a pro-magazine. Either for the first time, or the twenty-first time.
This post is not specific to Apex. It comes from conversations that I have had with first-readers and editors of other magazines. I hope it helps you as much as it has helped me.
So … what are we talking about this month? We’re going to talk about submitting, and the fear of submitting. About the opinions writers may have about those on the deciding end. And what we’re actually thinking when we open your story and begin reading. Essentially …
PITFALLS OF THE SLUSH PILE – WE’RE ROOTING FOR YOU
I didn’t go into slush reading out of a seething hatred for fiction--or for other writers. I went into slush reading because I love reading, and because I love stories. I also went into it because I want to find new writers I love, and new stories to be excited about. And I’ve found a lot of new writers I love through the slush, and gotten excited about a lot of stories (a lot, lot of stories).
What I mean to say is: we’re rooting for you. When I open up a file in the Apex Slush, I want it to be one I can send on to the editors. I’m hoping and crossing my fingers that it’s great. I’m excited to read another story I’ll love; excited to discover another favorite author.
From talking to other slush readers (both current and former) and editors of other magazines, this feeling is common. We want you to succeed. We’re excited to read your stories. We’re super excited to see repeat stories from you. We’re excited to see your first story, your second story, your third story.
I love getting repeat names in the slush. I love seeing how the writer has grown and improved since the last story. I’m excited to see what new things they have to offer me this go round versus before. It’s like having a conversation with an acquaintance. Submit enough times, and (for me) it’s like visiting with a friend.
I recently had to take a break from reading Apex slush due to a health concern and I missed the experience so much. I missed reading all those stories and discovering new authors and reading new work. I read a lot of published work, sure, but there’s a certain thrill of being able to read work before no one else does.
It’s like sharing in a secret.
I’m slowly getting back into it now as my health is improving, and I love opening up each new file to see what I’m going to get. I love the excitement that the title brings, that the first line brings. The story and characters and ending brings.
What does this all mean? We are not your enemy--those of us on the other side of the submissions process. We want you to succeed. We want to publish you. At no point in my process do I click on a file and think, “Oh I hope this person fails.” No. That never crosses my mind.
Editors, first readers, copy editors, management, no one on magazine staff is out to get you. We’re all doing our best to put the best finished product out there, and we’re hoping that you can be part of it when we open your story and begin reading.
So submit your work! We love to see it! And remember, we’re not scheming on how to reject you, no. We’re doing everything we can to see how you fit in.
Thanks for reading!