What Is a Slush Pile

Glossary > Slush Pile

💬 Definition of Slush Pile:

The slush pile is a collection of unsolicited manuscripts and pitches that editors, publishers, or literary agents receive. These submissions are often sent by hopeful authors who seek to have their work published, despite not being specifically requested by the publishing professional. 

Related questions about a slush pile:

Why is it called a slush pile?

The term "slush pile" originates in the publishing industry and is thought to have derived from the word "slush," which is a mixture of snow and water. Just as slush is formed when snow begins to melt and becomes messy and hard to navigate, a slush pile represents the numerous unsolicited manuscripts and pitches that are often unorganized and of varying quality. 

The term conveys the idea that reviewing submissions in the slush pile can be time-consuming and challenging for editors, publishers, and agents, as they have to sift through a vast amount of material to find the few manuscripts with potential.

What is the review process for a slush pile?

Due to the high volume of submissions, it may take a considerable amount of time for editors, publishers, or agents to review and respond to each work in the slush pile. 

When a publishing professional receives a submission from the slush pile, they typically begin by reviewing the cover letter, synopsis, and the first few pages of the manuscript. If the work piques their interest, they may continue reading the entire manuscript or request additional materials from the author. If not, the submission may be rejected, often with a form letter or email.

The length of the reviewal process can lead to frustration for authors, who may have to wait months, or even years, for a response. However, some successful authors have emerged, proving that determination and persistence can pay off.

What are slush readers?

Slush readers, sometimes also called first readers or manuscript readers, work for literary agents, publishers, or magazines and are responsible for reading through the slush pile of unsolicited manuscripts and pitches. Their primary task is to screen these submissions and identify any works with potential for publication.

Slush readers act as a first line of defense for editors and agents, helping them save time by filtering out submissions that do not meet their requirements or quality standards. Slush readers typically provide a brief summary or evaluation of their review manuscripts. They may recommend promising submissions to be considered further by the editors or agents they work for. 

This process helps streamline the publishing industry's decision-making process, allowing editors and agents to focus on the most promising works.

What are some of the slush pile success stories?

Although the odds of being discovered in the slush pile may seem daunting, there have been several notable success stories. For example, J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series was famously picked from the slush pile, catapulting the author to international fame and success. Similarly, bestselling authors like Stephenie Meyer, Kathryn Stockett, and Christopher Paolini were all discovered through unsolicited submissions.

Write more.
Worry less.

Publish and distribute your books to hundreds of stores worldwide in ebook, print or audio formats.

Publish Your Book


Are you looking for something on PublishDrive?