Adventures in the Slush Pile

Posted by on Aug 3, 2015 in Submissions | No Comments

Pages of a Book by -JosephB-

Welcome to the newest addition to the REUTS blog!

As you well know, the staff of REUTS Publications believes in transparency, and there’s nothing we enjoy more than finding new and creative ways to offer authors insight/advice on navigating the murky depths of the publishing industry. We’re certainly not the only ones with this philosophy, though, and I would be remiss if I didn’t give credit where it was due. See, what I’m about to unveil was inspired by the acts of fellow industry professionals at the Ruben Literary Agency, Inklings Literary Agency, Red Sofa Literary, and many others, all of whom are responsible for creating the Twitter hashtags #tenqueries, #500queries, etc.

Recently, I asked authors how they felt about those very hashtags and the possibility of seeing one from REUTS. The answer was an overwhelming and resounding, “YES, do it!” Because, as you may have noted above, the people who usually participate in these kinds of activities are agents, not presses. But agents and editors (especially small press editors) don’t always look for the same things, and it was abundantly clear that some of you out there are curious to see how we differ.

Therefore, I’m launching #REUTSsubs and following in my predecessors’ footsteps. As I browse the slush pile looking for gems waiting to be snatched up, I’ll tweet my thoughts/verdicts. The point of these, while hopefully entertaining, is to offer authors insight into the way an acquisitions editor makes their decision. The queries will remain anonymous; I’ll only list the category, genre, and my overall opinion. Sounds just like the others, doesn’t it? That’s the idea. However, there is an added component that I haven’t seen the others do yet.

Once a week, I will take all those tweets and compile them here on the blog. Twitter captures a snapshot of the decision process — the ultimate verdict — but it doesn’t allow for a lot of explanation as to the thought behind that verdict. Personally, I believe that’s the portion that will be most helpful to the authors battling it out in the query trenches. From personal reasons, to catalog clashes, to components that could have been done differently, there are a plethora of reasons as to why something might be rejected. And fitting that into Twitter’s limit is nigh impossible. So, to that end, the weekly blog summary will allow for additional commentary that can’t be squished into 140 characters while also providing a handy location to catch them all.

Also, REUTS does their acquisitions by panel, meaning that no one person has the final say. So it would be deceptive to say that the verdict you see from me on Twitter is the ultimate verdict on a submission. Sometimes (frequently, actually), we end up with split decisions, resulting in more discussion and eventually a majority ruling. To reflect that process more accurately, I’ll be adding commentary from the other acquisitions members to the blog posts as well. You may also see them pop up on the hashtag every once in a while. Though, for the most part, I’ll be the one curating it all. (Don’t groan too loudly; I might hear you. 😉 )

So, that’s it. Keep an eye on #REUTSsubs in the next few weeks if you’re interested in my humble opinions, and look for the first summary edition of “Adventures in the Slush Pile” to go live on Monday, 8/17/15. (Why not next Monday? I’ll be attending the Willamette Writers Conference in Portland, OR for most of this week, so I’ll be accepting pitches in person, as opposed to wading through the slush pile.) See you then!

— Kisa Whipkey
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