So, What’s A Slush Wrangler?

Hi, Shimmer reader and writers.

My name is Sean, and my job at Shimmer is SLUSH WRANGLER. When you submit a story to Shimmer, it comes into our gmail account with all the other slush. It’s my job to go through every submission and make sure of such things as: is there a story attached? Is the attachment in an acceptable format? Is the story under 5,000 words (as stated in the guidelines)?

If the stories are good to go, then I assign them to our associate editors. Another name for an associate editor is a slush reader, except at Shimmer, the associate editors have a voice in regards to buying or passing on a story.

Does every magazine work this way?

Nope. Every magazine is a special snowflake, and while some may have similar organizational structures to that of Shimmer, others are run in completely different ways. As such, you should do your research, and check out the submission guidelines before submitting to any magazine.

If you follow the submission guidelines, a slush wrangler gets his wings.

It’s easy when things work like they’re supposed to, and the writers submitting slush to Shimmer follow the guidelines.

So what happens to the stories that are incorrectly submitted? I’ll ask the author to try again.

Don’t feel bad; everyone makes mistakes. But if you continually abuse the guidelines, and make me intervene to remind you to check the guidelines, your name gets flagged, and I like you a lot less.

Does it actually impact your chances of getting your story read by an editor, if I need to constantly remind you to format your story correctly, or to query for stories over 5,000 words? Not really. I’ll still pass your story along when and if you submit it correctly.

But remember this: I’m married to the Editor in Chief. What do you think we talk about over dinner? 😉

I’m an author and I want to help you get your wings, WHAT DO I DO?

Send me a coupon for a free pizza. J/k. Bribes don’t really get you anywhere.

It’s true what beginning authors are told: the cream rises to the top… of the slush pile. A good story is all you need to break into a magazine. Easier said than done, I know from experience.

But here’s what you can do to help yourself.

First and foremost, read the guidelines. You’d be surprised how many people don’t bother with this step: enough that just the simple act of following the guidelines when you submit bumps your story into the top half of the slush pile. It’s so simple, yet is something I’ve seen many authors overlook.

Next, inform yourself. Become a part of the speculative fiction community, online and in person. Here are some things you can do:

And finally? Why not start interacting now? Be part of the Shimmer community. Leave a comment here and tell me, are you a beginning writer? Was this post helpful? I hope that it was. When your little slush baby arrives in my pile, I’m the first person who sees it. I’m rooting for you: it’s so much fun to see a great story go from slush pile to publication.


Leave ‘em in the comments section. I’d love to answer them.

2 thoughts on “So, What’s A Slush Wrangler?”

  1. “Go to conventions.”

    I’m curious what you see as the benefits to a new writer in doing this. Obviously, if you’re Neil Gaiman, there are tons of networking, promotional, and sales opportunities at a con. But based on my limited experience at the cons, someone who doesn’t already possess a significant publishing track record is not going to stand out from the crowd as a writer. Worse, a writer attempting to promote themselves at a con is likely to turn people off. In short, what should the writer be doing at the con?

  2. Kyle, thanks for your questions. I think people like Neil Gaiman are the people that LEAST need to attend a convention. If you know/like Neil Gaiman, there is a pretty high chance of you buying his next book regardless of whether or not you see him in the autograph line at a publisher’s booth.

    I can’t speak for everyone, but I can speak of myself. I have met many awesome fellow writers at these conventions. Aside from the obvious benefits of making cool new friends, it is nice to be part of a group (thank you, internet) to either celebrate with, commiserate with, or get help from/give help to. It’s also very valuable as a way to network with people who may be able to help you in the future. I’m sure many writers have met their current agent or editor at a con. For me, I met a couple of editors there, and even ended up getting a gig (indirectly) as a slush reader for a pretty awesome magazine through meeting people at cons.

    Cons can be motivating for the struggling writer, and can be a way to get your name out there if you’re good socially. The parties are just plain fun, and a great way to talk writing, or dirigibles, or whatever it is you’re into.

    I guess what I’m saying is… yeah, you probably won’t stand out as a writer among hundreds of other writers if you happen not to be Neil Gaiman, etc., but go for the people. Make real connections, listen to an editor talk about craft, ride the elevator down to the lobby with George R.R. Martin (true story!!!), etc.! That’s the real value of cons, as I see it.

    I hope that helps answer your question. If not, let me know~!

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