A publisher’s lot is often not a happy one—especially when the slushpile is involved. Here’s a terrific story from Not Always Right to illustrate that. The person telling the tale is a publisher from the UK, who is visited by a distraught writer who wants to publish a book, but says no one will even look at it because he is dyslexic. The publisher, perhaps moved by an unrealistic faith in human nature, replies:
Me: “I’m so sorry to hear how you’ve been treated. Send me the first few pages of your book, the best scene in the book, preferably around the middle, and the last few pages, and I’ll give them a read.”
(The client thanks me, places the ENTIRE book on my desk, and then leaves. I start to read it later that day, only to discover that not only is the spelling and grammar awful, but so is the book itself. I continue reading much more than I usually do, wanting to believe this man was truly the great writer he claimed to be. The story gets worse and worse the more I read. I read a couple of pages in the middle. Then I skip to the end, only to discover he ended the book with the most despised sentence in the literary world, ‘and it was all a dream.’ Needless to say I wrote him a rejection letter. A few days later I get a message from the receptionist, who is in tears, claiming an enraged man is here, screaming about suing us. I told her to let him in. It was our dyslexic client.)
The publisher explains to the writer in detail exactly what is wrong with the story…and gets a letter from the guy’s lawyer anyway threatening to sue for discrimination. See the link for the rest.
And this is one of the problems with our world today…any time someone does something someone else doesn’t like, the lawyers come out. It makes it hard to do pretty much anything. I can’t even get a recommendation from my previous employer out of the fear that I would sue them if they said something I didn’t like.
On the bright side, thanks to the rise of self-publishing, writers no longer have to deal with being in a slushpile if they don’t want to. But on the other hand, that means the rest of us have to deal with an Internet that’s one big slushpile. But we’re working on that.