Slush pile success stories

Among the pile of unsolicited manuscripts, occasionally a couple will be picked up for publication. Here are some stories of the lucky ones.

It’s the stuff of dreams, you send off your unsolicited manuscript to one or more coveted publishing houses and, after a few months of silence (in some cases even sooner!), your work is picked up from the hundreds of others languishing in the mountainous slush pile, to begin its long journey to publication. Out of the many unsuccessful pitches to sieve through, occasionally publishers find gold. ArtsHub speaks to a number of authors and publishers about the lucky happenstance when a manuscript finds a home.

Mark Smith’s debut novel, The Road to Winter, was discovered by Text Publishing (Melbourne, Australia). ‘I chose Text because they had a strong YA list and a genuine interest in the genre – as evidenced by the yearly Text Prize. I thought my manuscript would fit well with other titles they published. I had missed the deadline for the Text Prize that year, so decided to take my chances on the slush pile. Like a lot of other emerging writers I also had no idea how slim the chances were of being picked up off the slush pile!’ he tells ArtsHub.

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Thuy On is the Reviews and Literary Editor of ArtsHub and an arts journalist, critic and poet who’s written for a range of publications including The Guardian, The Saturday Paper, Sydney Review of Books, The Australian, The Age/SMH and Australian Book Review. She was the books editor of The Big issue for 8 years. Her debut, a collection of poetry called Turbulence, came out in 2020 and was released by University of Western Australia Publishing (UWAP). Her second collection, Decadence, was published in July 2022, also by UWAP. Her third book, Essence, will be published in 2025. Twitter: @thuy_on Instagram: poemsbythuy