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The Slush Pile:  How to Rise to the Top

Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.

An online devotional for writers

A Word From The Word

Your instructions are a warning to your servant, a great reward for those who obey them. (Psalm 19:11, NLT)

The Slush Pile: a #devotional for #writers based on Psalm 19:11 with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter #WritingTips ##WritingABook #WritingArticles

A Word For Writers

You’ve got an idea for an article or book. But how can you put together your submission so that you catch an editor’s attention and avoid the slush pile?

The slush pile is a collection of inquiries to an editor or agent. In the past, a slush pile was an actual physical stack of envelopes and packets from eager writers. Today, a slush pile accumulates in an inbox folder or an online submission platform like Submittable until an editor has the chance to read them and respond.

Editors sift through the slush pile looking for gems – submissions that indicate promising writers with proposals that meets their publication’s needs.

Writers, on the other hand, view the slush pile as their Mount Everest, zealously seeking ways to stand out so they can get published. Some even resort to gimmicky fluorescent pink cover letters or perfumed envelopes. 

But there’s a simple way writers can rise to the top of the slush pile, according to editors: follow their guidelines.

  • Submit the kind of content that the publisher requests. If it’s a youth publication, don’t propose a treatise for seminary students. 
  • Format your submission according to the publisher’s directions. Don’t send an entire article when the publication requests a 1-page query.
  • Proofread your submission. Use spell check. 
  • Get to the point right away. The editor shouldn’t have to wade through 4,000 words to get the gist of your proposal.

Follow a publication’s writer’s guidelines and you’ll land in the top 20% of slush pile submissions, according to my editor friends.

The “Follow Guidelines” principle is rooted in scripture. When we follow God’s guidance, He guarantees a “great reward” – a restored heart, wisdom, and insight for living – even in the midst of life’s challenges.

Follow a publication’s writer’s guidelines for submissions. You may not have publishing success every time. But you’ll rise to the top of the slush pile. And sooner or later, you’ll get a contract

A Wise Word

To rise to the top of the slush pile, follow the publisher’s guidelines.

A Word To Pray

Heavenly Father,

When I follow your instructions, you strengthen me and renew me. Let me do my part as I propose articles or books to editors. Help me follow a publication’s guidelines for submission.

In Jesus’s name, Amen.

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