If I was an editor…

We hear horror stories about the slush pile all the time.

1. The great stories that have slipped through the fingers of an editor because they didn’t read it.

2. The dozens, more often hundreds, of rejection letters received by serious writers before they are accepted (if they are).

3. The gut feeling that the submission wasn’t even glanced at before it was returned to the author with a form letter saying “not interested”.

And there are many other things I could add to the list.

As writers, we repeatedly talk about the importance of having a great title, the perfect first sentence, correct formatting, acceptable grammar, writing styles and many other tips on getting our manuscripts noticed.

I want you to take off your writer’s hat and replace it, for a few moments, with an editor’s hat instead. This exercise is to help you see what it might be like to be faced with the following scenario every week.

Imagine yourself sitting at a big, wooden desk. Piles of manuscripts line the floor, the benches, the bookcases, and your desk. All these manuscripts are from writers who want their work to stand out from the rest.

You’ve been doing this job for many months, probably many years. And you generally only select three to five manuscripts for publication each year. Today, you have 100 manuscripts in your office.

How will you tackle the job of working your way through the “slush pile”?

Will you read every, single word of every, single manuscript and then make the all important decision?

Will you read the first three chapters of every, single manuscript?

Will you read each manuscript until it bores you, then reject it?

Will you read the first page and see if the writing style and story catches your attention? Rejecting the ones that don’t.

Will you first sort the manuscripts into two piles? One pile representing the poorly formatted manuscripts, which you’ll reject instantly, and the other pile being the manuscripts that have followed your guidelines and look professional, you’ll attempt to read these later.

Will you reject all of them, because you just don’t have time this week, and there will be another pile to go through next week?

Now, start your comment with “If I was an editor…” and tell me how you would handle the slush pile.

1 thought on “If I was an editor…”

  1. If I were an editor (and these days I am) I would read the first page and if the writing style, story and characters grab my attention within that time then the manuscript will be read. If not, it will be rejected! There simply isn’t time to waste on words that bore me.

    My advise is to ensure you get rid of the fluff at the start and get to the interesting bit straight away.


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