This is part three in a series of dispatches from independent publishers, instigated by a banal and ignorant comment from an editor at Simon & Schuster about the dearth of unsolicited manuscripts being published today.
The previous two installments can be found below:
The Slush Pile Is Dead! Long Live the Slush Pile!
Slush Pile Update - Eli Horowitz, McSweeney's
I recently had a moment to send Dan Wickett, the Exectutive Director and co-founder of Dzanc Books, a Michigan-based nonprofit publisher, founder of the Emerging Writers Network and a member of the Litblog Co-op. Dzanc supports lit journals across the country; as the Editor-in-Chief of cream city review, a student of fiction, and a reader who is interested in finding fiction, poetry, and nonfiction that has more than simple commercial potential, I would suggest Dzanc Books deserves at least a peek from discerning readers.
They make it easy to get hooked: they have All Over an exciting new collection from Roy Kesey (published in great journals like The Iowa Review, McSweeney's, and The Kenyon Review) out now.
JJ: How deep is your slush pile of novel-length (or short story collection) manuscripts?
Dan Wickett: It's done via email, but if printed out, it would definitely be taller than I am.
JJ: How many unsolicited manuscripts do you receive monthly?
DW: Since the P&W article, we've been receiving over three per day.
JJ: How often do you read manuscripts out of the slush?
DW: Every day at least one or two are looked at by myself and our initial readers.
JJ: How many slush authors receive correspondence?
DW: Every single mss [manuscript] submitted will receive at least a 'No thank you' email from us. If something specific jumped out as to why we weren't interested, we'll try to include that. If something is close - a manuscript that maybe we asked to see the whole thing and then didn't take it - we'll try to explain a little further as to why not.
JJ: How many books have you published from slush?
DW: The fourth title we publish, a trio of novellas from Hesh Kestin, will be the first title that is truly from the slush pile - a manuscript not solicited by us, or brought to us by somebody we knew. Then the Suzanne Burns story collection to follow that was also from the slush pile. The Robert Lopez titles as well. It seems we're running about 50/50 so far.
JJ: Do you and your assistant editors eat pizza, salads, or both?
DW: Both but pizza much more often in my own case.
JJ: Would you rather read a slush pile MS or create a marketing sheet?
DW: Mss all the way.
For more on Dzanc Books, check their website and find the Sept/Oct Poets & Writers.