Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Slush Pile Update - Eli Horowitz, McSweeney's

In response to my thoughts on the slush pile in contemporary publishing, McSweeney's Editor Eli Horowitz answers some questions on their slush pile. McSweeney's next book is Millard Kaufman's Bowl of Cherries.

Eli Horowitz: I don’t know if we really have a slush pile here — not because we don’t take unsolicited manuscripts, but because almost everything sits in the same pile. Sometimes we’ve heard of the writer, or someone recommended them, and some others are sent by agents, but still they all mush together. So it’s not like a daring expedition into the darkest swamps — it’s no swampier than our overall book-reading procedure (which is fairly swampy throughout).

Jay Johnson: How deep is your slush pile of novel-length manuscripts?

EH: Only ankle-deep, but several yards wide.

JJ: How many unsolicited manuscripts do you receive monthly?

EH: For books, maybe fifty? (A lot more for stories.)

JJ: How often do you read manuscripts out of the slush?

EH: All the time.

JJ: How many slush authors receive correspondence?

EH: Well, they all receive something, or they all should. But do you mean personal notes? Pretty rarely.

JJ: How many books have you published from slush?

EH: Again, it depends what you call slush, but at least half our novels, I think: Here They Come, Icelander, Bowl of Cherries, etc.

JJ: Do you and your assistant editors eat pizza, salads, or both?

EH: Burritos.

JJ: Would you rather read a slush pile MS or create a marketing sheet?

EH: I don’t even really know what a marketing sheet is.


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