Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Slush Pile and other Myths of Publishing

I dropped into St. Martins Press in New York this week for a quick visit with my editor to talk about the paperback edition of Towers of Gold. I brought my 16-year old daughter along and thought it would be fun to show her the inner workings of a major publisher.

St. Martins is located in the historic Flatiron Building in New York, which celebrated its centennial a few years ago. It's located on 23rd Street between Broadway and Fifth and has a
great view of the city.

I asked to see the St. Martin's slush pile, which I imagined as a tower of manila envelopes and loose query pages. Vicki Lame, an assistant editor, showed me where the publisher stores unsolicited manuscripts and I was surprised to see it was smaller than I expected. She said that an editorial assistant had just gone through the pile -- a process that they do twice a year.

The slush pile only fills up one shelf in this bookshelf.

The world of reading proposals is changing as well. Editors at St. Martin's and other Macmillan imprints no longer read submissions from agents on paper. Agents e-mail proposals and they are loaded onto Sony e-readers. So there was only a minor tower of paper on the desk of Michael Flamini, my editor. (He still reads and edits completed manuscripts on paper.) Here is a picture of Michael holding up his e-reader.

I love to find out which books Michael has coming out. I picked up a galley of Mile High Fever, a book about the Comstock Lode by Dennis Drabelle, which is coming out in July. Flamini also has an autobiography of Vic Damone coming out that sounds fun. Flamini keeps the books he has edited on display in his office; if you look closely enough you can see Towers of Gold on the bottom shelf.

No comments: