Jumping Into Slushpile Hell

The thing about writing a book is that it takes sooooo long. And if it’s your first one, you’re not even sure whether it’s worth the effort.

In an ideal world, you write and edit your entire manuscript before sending it out to prospective publishers. Not only will you be showing them your best work, but you won’t find yourself in that sticky situation of having to finish off a sold manuscript under the pressure cooker conditions of a tight deadline and what feels like a hundred pairs of eyes on you. You control the scheduling and what happens in your story, and everyone knows exactly what they’re dealing with.

And that was absolutely 100% the plan I went in with.

But after six weeks glued to my desk with the door shut to the outside world it began to feel kind of lonely. Was anybody even out there? Maybe I should try another tack. Dip my toe into the water just, you know, to see if anyone bites. After all, no point spending months writing something that nobody wants, right?

Heart pounding with excitement, I tidied up my first three chapters, and emailed them out to the open submissions programmes of the Big Six publishers, otherwise known as Slush Pile Hell, as quickly as I could before I changed my mind.

And then I waited.

They’re very clear about this waiting part. It can take months, don’t call us, we’ll call you type of thing. After about a week I decided to give them a tinkle just, you know, to check they’d received it and all.

Hello meet Mr Rejection. The first four came in quick fire succession – Boom boom boom boom. Just like that. I lay prostrate on the floor next to my computer wondering how anyone in their right mind has the heart for this shit.

Then I got my first little bite. Tell us more about yourself. Who have you written for? Why did the story appeal to you? I leapt off the floor and reeled off a lengthy essay about my life, past loves, what I had for breakfast, and why my little contribution to the mum lit genre would break records, change the world etc etc.


A couple of days later, Thanks but no thanks. Decided I preferred the Boom Boom scenario better than this.

And then life took over. Kids to ferry around, food to cook, budgie cage to clean out, that type of thing. Maths has never been my forte, and at this point I actually forgot that I’d sent the thing out to six and only heard back from five. Which left one tiny little glimmer of hope.

I was busy finishing up a magazine feature on the latest trends in front gate design when my email pinged. Another bite. We liked it. Send us more.

The front gate feature and everything else in my life got shoved aside and I then spent the next month or so writing another three chapters. Sent it off. Yep, they liked that too. Keep going.

So I did.

Six weeks later I emerged from the my little office like a smelly, straggle-haired creature of the sea clutching my 40k words. Half a book! Felt like I deserved an award/ a parade/ at least something for my gargantuan efforts. Sent the bugger off. And then, a whole lot more silence. Began to realise that things move veeery slowly in the world of publishing.

During that big silence I did a number of things that included, in no particular order, 1) dreaming of the various ways I’d announce my publishing news to the world/ family/ friends. Man they’d be so proud. 2) planning what I’d wear/ how I’d lose 20 kgs for my film premiere, and 3) researching beachside properties with own jetty within 30kms of the Sydney CBD. There were a surprising number of bargains out there if you had a spare $3 million in your pocket, which of course, I soon would.

And then they said No.

Cue a whole lot of darkness. Well at least I wouldn’t have to worry about losing those 20kgs.

At one point my eldest came up and put his arms around me. “Don’t worry, Mum. Just cos the publishing world doesn’t want you, we still do.”


Next up….Second chances…and a lovely, entirely unexpected surprise


One thought on “Jumping Into Slushpile Hell

  1. Kim says:

    Thanks for sharing! Would love to hear what happened next…

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