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February 18, 2010
How To Rescue Things from the Slush Pile
I got a very nice comment from Vincent Chandler of Slush Pile Reader, on the topic of the death of the slush pile and wanted to point those of you who are interested in self-publication to his site.
Slush Pile Reader is a (still in beta) publisher that provides editing, publication, distribution, and promotion services for submitted books - a slush pile, in effect. The twist here is that those books SPR will publish will not be selected by an editorial staff, but rather will be those that the site's readership have voted as books they'd like to see published.
Authors who want to see their books published through SPR have to be willing to have those books out on the net for anyone to read. SPR allows completely free anonymous reading. In order to vote, though, you must register with the site (also free) and registering also lets you see material that the submitting authors want to mark as 'adult' or otherwise age-restrict. Authors also will retain their rights in non-published manuscripts. As with a print-based publisher, the manuscript will be in the publisher's hands for a certain period and if not selected for publication will then be 'returned' to the author who is free to submit it elsewhere.
Unlike some other publishers, SPR does not plan to charge authors anything up front for books it chooses to publish. Again following the model of traditional print houses, SPR's chosen manuscripts will get the author a contract that will cover terms such as royalties and other payments that may be due to the author.
Overall, this is such a small deviation from the traditional small-press publishing model that I'm at a loss to see how it can be any more profitable than those small presses. By relying on a voting system, SPR is hedging its own bets on which titles it chooses to publish but those are still very similar bets to those made by publishing houses who rely on the insights and discerning tastes of their editorial staff.
SPR is a neat idea and I'd love to see them succeed but I don't see them as the saviors of the slushpile.
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