The Geomancer


Questions about Slush

We recently had a question about response times to unagented manuscripts.  For those who don't know me, my name is Rene Sears, and I'm Editorial Director Lou Anders' assistant/ slush reader. Pyr began accepting unagented manuscripts last February, when I was hired. Unsolicited manuscripts are called slush; my job is to read them and pass the exceptional ones along to Lou, who then decides whether they are right for Pyr.

To answer the original question, my aspiration is to keep rejections within four to six weeks; sometimes it may be longer.  If I read the first few chapter and like them, it may take me longer to get a chance to read further and see if the manuscript lives up to its initial promise.  At the moment, my response times are a bit slower than usual, because I'm also helping prepare our backlist for ebook conversion.  If you are worried your manuscript has gone astray, you are welcome to email me.

Any other questions about the slush pile, feel free to ask in the comments.


  1. Congrats on the conversion task, sounds like a step up from pure slush reading (this is of course assuming that was the sum of what you were doing before--which I don't know).

    Since you posit the subject, my first query is: How many times a day do you go, 'Wow, that MS is fantastic,' and how many times do you shudder at awkward prose and dialogue? Perhaps the wrong place to ask, but it makes me curious.

  2. Hi Clifton, thanks for the congrats. I enjoy both; they're just different.

    As to your question, it depends on the day. Sometimes I get a lot of great manuscripts in a row, sometimes they're not for us. It's pretty much unpredictable.

  3. How many unsolicited manuscripts do you see pass your desk in a typical week, Rene?

    Do you ever see aspiring authors "throw stuff at a wall", sending you multiple manuscripts in the hopes that one you will find favor with?

  4. Hi, Paul. Again, it depends. The most I've had so far was when we first opened to submissions-- I got over a hundred in the first two weeks. The converse was December when submissions slowed down, I assume for the holidays, and I was getting no more than one or two a day. Barring those first hectic months, we're getting more per month in 2011 than we did in 2010, but it can vary a lot.

    I have had a few authors try several manuscripts on me, which is fine, as long as they are within the parameters of what we're looking for (that is, science fiction and fantasy.) If the fantasy manuscript didn't work for me, the literary fiction is right out.

  5. So it sounds like you are the sole slush reader for PYR? Is there going to be a need to increase to a second one at some point or is it too early to tell?

  6. Yes, I'm the sole slush reader. At the moment, I don't think there's a need for another one, but that would be up to Lou, not me.