Thursday, September 21, 2006

How the other half lives

From where I sit, it looks as though the majority of people who read this blog are writers. Well, that's not surprising really, because everyone has one novel in them, don't they? That's what I was told as a lad, anyway.

But have you ever considered how it feels to be one of the others -- one of those people who has to read the writers' output, and decide whether it is suitable for their firm/magazine?

Apparently it isn't always a lot of fun. Or so Edgar Harris says. And it's less fun in the field of science fiction than in most others.

Edgar's report is not new, by any means -- it dates from 2002 -- but he gives an account of how the New York gang of SF editors was then organising a slush-pile bonfire day, when they would commit to the flames any number of hideous (in their eyes only, you understand) manuscripts of one sort or another.

Opinions of this enterprise will doubtless vary, but I thought it quite amusing myself.

Paul Riddell (link from Locus) was reminded of slush-pile day by the announcement of the Sobol prize. He reckons that the prize might justify a slush-pile bonfire all of its own. He is obviously a man of very little faith. And actually -- ahem -- as I recall, the Sobol prize doesn't involve paper submissions at all -- it's all gotta be digital, baby.

Meanwhile, over at the Kenyon Review, David Lynn has some slightly more serious comments to make about the difficulties of judging the slush-pile submissions.


Don said...

As a former magazine editor (for a small graphics arts publication), I had the conflicting continual need for articles to fill my magazine along with submissions of articles wildly inappropriate for tha magazine.

If your text was appropriate for the magazine and had anything interesting to say, I would work with you. But someone somewhere is making money off of would-be freelance writers telling them to write generic "business" articles and send them mildly customized to any magazine they can think of. I was ready to get a rubber stamp to stamp on those telling them to stop doing that. Instead, I pulled our listing from Writer's Digest.

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