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Boogieman In Lavender: Working In The Slush Factory

Jeff BakerThis is for writers and more importantly, for those people who want to be writers. There is an inescapable reality to anyone who writes and puts their work out into the market. That part is simply; it might not sell. A lot of times, on average, it will not sell. At least not at first. Every writer deals with rejection. Usually in a form letter or e-mail, sometimes with a more personal mention of your work; maybe even encouragement (“Please let us see more of your work.”) or criticism. (“Way too wordy.”) This is all part of the writer’s life, and the writer shouldn’t get discouraged or take it personally. The best thing is to keep writing and keep submitting. A story rejected by one market may be accepted by another. And it does help to keep track.

Since I started writing regularly, I started keeping track of submissions and rejections with a chart I call “The Slush Factory.” And while rejections outnumber sales, even keeping track of those can actually be encouraging.

Taking its name from the “slush pile” where submitted manuscripts wait to be read, here’s how The Slush Factory works:

I submitted (we’ll call it Story A) to an anthology. I typed it up as:

Story A

Submitted to anthology X, March 14, 2011.

When the story was rejected, I made note of it, below the submission. And almost immediately sent it out again, noting it immediately below.

Rejected, April 4, 2011.

Submitted to Blah-Blah Magazine, April 12, 2011.

And so on. This is one way this chart is important and encouraging. Story A was submitted to thirteen markets, with like rejections, and some extras duly noted (Rejected, with encouraging “send me more” note, May 3, 2015.)

Keeping a record like this offers valuable encouragement to a writer. It says; I am making progress. I am keeping busy writing and submitting. And it’s not just this story; my Slush Factory chart lists almost thirty stories in various stages of submission. Some of them, admittedly with “Rejected,’ and no further submissions yet. One or two of them with the wonderful word “Accepted!!!!” typed at the end of the list.

Looking back through it all the rejections and a few acceptances, besides keeping track of what you’ve put out there (I got an acceptance for a story I’d forgotten about a while back!) it can provide a necessary prod or carrot to keep going.

And there are about five stories on my list, released into the world with no word back yet either way.

Therein lays the writer’s hope.


Jeff Baker blogs about writing and reading sci-fi, fantasy and horror and other sundry matters around the thirteenth of each month. His fiction appears in places like the upcoming QSF anthology “Renewal.” He appears on Facebook as “Jeff Baker, Author” and also blogs and posts fiction at He lives in Wichita, Kansas with his husband Darryl.



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