BLOGGERS’ WEEK Pure as the driven slush – Lee Harris on publisher Angry Robot’s experimental slush month
As I write this, there are just seven hours left until the doors close, and we go back to only accepting manuscripts from agents and writers known to us. So, how has the experiment gone? Well, it’s a little early to say, but I can say that of the 700-plus manuscripts that have been set in over the last 31 days (just over twenty-two a day, for all you statistics fans), around half of them have been read. Of the 350 that have been considered, only two have so far been passed up to editorial. Assuming the second half of the slush pile is similar, then we will have had just four manuscripts escalated to editorial, out of more than 700 (a little over half of one percent). Of course, it’s entirely possible that of the remaining four hundred or so, hundreds of them will be passed on for further consideration, though that’s unlikely.
The four manuscripts that will have made it through the first part of the process will now be treated as though they had come from an agent, so they will have a statistically similar chance of getting published, which is to say, not very high. Does this mean that the submissions we received were bad? Not at all – some were very good. It means that the good submissions just weren’t right for our list; that they didn’t feel like Angry Robot titles. This is where agents add some of their immense value; agents provide a great service in targeting manuscripts to specific publishers, which increases the likelihood of submissions being accepted and bought for publication. One major UK publisher accepted unsolicited submissions for over ten years, and didn’t find a single title from the slushpile in all that time. This is why most publishers don't accept unsolicited submissions; it often isn’t practical, or economic.
Will we do it again? I don’t know, yet. We need to get through the second half of that immense slushpile, first. But if we do find an amazing new talent, you can be sure we’ll let everyone know about it!
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