Publishing · The Shining Ones

Slush Pile Woes: the first rejection cuts the deepest

The rejections for my latest novel The Shining Ones are starting to roll in. The first came from Gollancz and I wasn’t that surprised, so the title of this post is a bit misleading. As writers we’re supposed to be cut up by rejections, but I couldn’t muster the energy to care. Perhaps I’ve got used to it, or my skin is getting thicker, but the context probably explains it.

Gollancz is perhaps the leading publisher of Science Fiction and Fantasy novels. Normally they don’t accept unsolicited submissions, but every once in a while, they open their doors to anyone willing to try. And therein lies the problem. According to this tweet, they received around 600 submissions in January:

Gollancz submissions
My book is in there somewhere! – courtesy of @Gollancz

When you submit to an open door unagented submission process like this, you’re basically sending your novel straight to the slush pile. It will be read, but not by an editor. Most likely, my chapters were read and rejected by an unpaid intern ticking boxes on a checklist. I have no idea what the criteria were or what Gollancz were looking for (or not looking for), so it’s impossible to know why The Shining Ones was rejected. It’s not personal, even if it is subjective.

Just take a deep breath and soldier on.

I also submitted the book to Angry Robot. Apparently, they received 1,118 submissions! I haven’t heard anything yet and no news is good news, as they say, but I’m not holding my breath. Same conditions apply.

So what’s next? Over the coming months I’ll be submitting the book to agents and the plan is to do it in batches: Submit – wait 2 months – submit the next batch – wait 2 months – submit the next… and so on. I can take on board any feedback I get and tweak the submissions as I work down my list of agents. It all depends on the response, if any.

I’ll be writing more about the process of finding an agent and what I learn along the way, so watch this space for news, tips and advice. But first, I need to tell you more about the book itself so that’s up next…


9 thoughts on “Slush Pile Woes: the first rejection cuts the deepest

  1. Hi Jess! Sorry I haven’t been reading your recent posts, I’ll get back to ya in a bit! Keep going!! It must suck to be rejected and to know that many more get turned down too, but you’re a great writer Jess 🙂 I really like how you put so much thought into character analysis from your previous posts, I’ll keep my fingers crossed for your submission success 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ms. Anderson, you sure have a lovely smile.

      Jess, you had me scared for a moment. I thought that pile of envelopes was your stacks of rejected copies. I can’t imagine printing a bunch of copies and sending them to publishers. Does anyone ever consider sending a book on disk? An e-copy to either read on the PC/tablet or print upon receiving it?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Most submissions are done via email these days, but sometimes a publisher or agent prefers doing it the old way. It saves them having to print stuff out themselves.


        1. Like printing is as big a concern for a publisher who probably has plenty of big machines to rush the job versus an individual writer who may have to seek out a printing company versus burning out their home printer?

          Email submissions…hmm. But, is that safer than say sending a copy on disk in the snail mail?


        2. Having to print the stuff themselves is a big deal when they’re getting hundreds or thousands of submissions. It all costs money and they’d rather the writer took the hit. It saves their profit margins, and it saves time.

          Email is probably safer than sending stuff in the post – especially in the UK when you can’t rely on the Royal Mail to even deliver. Plus it’s faster. It can takes weeks for something to arrive in the post, if it arrives at all.


        3. I suppose that makes sense, saving a lil on the business expense side. But, one could develop a rather large ego and make authors feel like peasants bringing baskets of offerings to their emperor.

          Cripes, the postal service AND police are pointless in the UK? I think it’s time we crack down on the tea parties and teach these businesses to grow a pair.

          Faster is not always better.

          Weeks?? Fricken’ lazy postal service! I still curse the Philippines’ postal system for losing the package I sent there. Damn foreign mail! What is going wrong here? Pretty soon the postal oath is going to read: “Huh? Oh, mail. Yea, yeah. I’ll…get right on that. Just let me finish this donut and text.”


Comments are closed.