Most publishers keep a "slushpile" - the stack of unsolicited manuscripts which contains a large percentage of preposterous or frightening book proposals, which might just conceal that one jewel of a bestseller or classic novel lying near the bottom. Authors discovered via the slush pile include Roddy Doyle, J. K. Rowling and Philip Roth. Stephenie Meyer sent 15 query letters about her teenage-vampire saga and got nearly 10 rejection letters; one even arrived after she signed with an agent and received a three-book deal from Little, Brown.
Sadly though, these are the exceptions...
Written by a reader with over a decade of slush pile experience, Something Nasty in the Slushpile takes a tour through the 'do's and 'don't's of book proposal, including many examples of hilarious, misguided and plain weird approaches. The contents include:
Famous first lines:
After ten books of criticism, I am turning my attention to a subject close to my heart, the illustrated story of my own life ...
I would have e-mailed you, but I am not allowed access to such facilities as I have just been sectioned. I should be out soon.
It's like a British male version of Eat, Pray, Love. But less shrill and more believable. There are echoes of Paul Theroux and parallels with The Alchemist and Siddhartha
My book is just about me, just an ordinary 'Jo Bloggs' chipping away relentlessly at the big roadblocks put in my way ...
How not to respond to constructive criticism:
Dear so-called publisher...
I have shown my manuscript to my spiritual guide and he agrees that you are utterly wrong...
|Publisher:||Little, Brown Book Group|
|Sold by:||Hachette Digital, Inc.|
|File size:||777 KB|
About the Author
Sammy Looker, the aptly named reader at Constable, joined the firm in 1923 and was still there 40 years later. It was always possible to tell when a manuscript had been read by Looker as the pages tended to stick together, given Looker's tendency to eat fishpaste sandwiches while reading.
The author of Something Nasty in the Slush Pile has chosen to use Sammy's name as a nom de plume.