Thursday, November 7, 2013

Advice and Laughs from Slushpile Hell

I love the Slushpile Hell website.

Once a week, the anonymous book agent who's site it is posts part of an epically awful query he has received, along with the snarky comment he'd like to have sent back. There are plenty of sites that tell you how to write a query. (I recommend Query Shark, knowledgeable, sharp and funny.) Slushpile Hell is a weekly laugh and an example of what not to do. Ever.

It's amazing – just amazing – how clueless some would-be authors can be, overvaluing their ability or having such a tenuous grasp on reality. It's also surprising how many hopeful writers out there have been told to write their book by God or gods or other divine messengers. Others who seem to think it's the agent's job to give them assignments to write, which will then be sold for millions. ANd it's hard to read without thinking back about your own query and thinking, "I'm not like that, am I?" It can actually be reassuring. "Well, I may not have a publisher yet, but at least I'm not like thatguy!"

Here's a couple of examples from Slushpile Hell over the years.

Please. Please turn my novels into money. I possess a supreme talent. And I am no fool; I see how this has to be. With the right team behind me I could revolutionize literature and show consumers how there is still such a thing as soul in this soulless nation.
I, too, possess a supreme talent. I am able to read dozens of ill-conceived query letters each week without my head bursting into flames.

The significance of this book is that Angels dictated it to me. I am able to “hear” and write the words that are relayed to me by listening internally. This book is based on channeled Angelic insight and has significant relevance to the people of the world.

Please read my work. It will be the next great explosion.
I’ve read it. Explosion is precisely the word that comes to mind.

Every agent I’ve encountered thus far has been a complete idiot. Let’s see if you can prove you’re different by representing me and my book.
Stop. Your seductive charm is making me feel woozy.

And he occasionally has contests that are fun, and sometimes posts short lists of "advice." And anyone who actually needs the advice he offers needs a lot more than that. I'm thinking heavy medication is in order.

Publishing Tip of the Day!

5 things you may not want to say to an agent at a writers’ conference:
  1. "You look a lot thinner on your web site."
  2. "How are your kids doing? It was so cute how they surprised you with waffles for breakfast last Saturday. At least I think it was waffles, it was hard to tell from outside your window." 
  3. "Is it true that agents are just frustrated writers?" 
  4. "You know, you and I are the same blood type." 
  5. "I’d like to share an important message with you from the Book of Mormon."

Publishing Tip of the Day!
3 things to leave out of your query package:
  1. A picture of you on a Harley, shirtless (you know who you are)
  2. A broken-heart necklace, with your name engraved on one half and a photo of yourself wearing the other half (engraved, of course, with the agent’s name)
  3. One of these toad-skinned purses:

WIP UPDATE: 961 words on Wednesday, just missed my quota. But it's going in a good place. I was happy with the day's work. I was even happier with the idea that hit me last night during dinner that I think resolves a potential problem I saw coming down the line and makes the whole thing a lot more interesting. In a way, Tori pointed out, this almost makes Brainiac Kapow a superhero. I definitely thinks it makes him more interesting.


  1. Thank you for recommending this website, I am going to check it out. I know this sounds wrong, but it sounds like fun.

  2. Fabulous tips! And so definitely going to go check out that website.

    Sarah Allen
    (From Sarah, With Joy)