Sizzlers Welcome The Fabulous Mr. Hell

Now, some of you may know that RomanceMama has discovered Twitter. I was really resistant to it and made fun of it, then found out how much I was missing. As a friend of mine tweeted, Facebook is for people you went to high school with; Twitter is for people you wish you’d gone to high school with. Try @BestAt, @LordLikely, @BPGlobalPR, and @FakeAPStylebook for some really funny tweets.

In addition to the humorous tweeters, you can also find a wealth of publishing industry information on twitter. There are plenty of aspiring authors who share info about contests, workshops and conferences, in addition to commiserating about the writing life. Also, lots of agents, editors, and big-time writers are on there, and some of them do question and answer sessions where you can semi-anonymously ask the questions you would never ask out loud at a conference. And when you start swapping DH (dear husband) and DK (dear kids) stories with these folks, you realize they are just working parents like you – only more successful. It really has made me more comfortable with pitches and queries.

One of the people who best combines the humor factor with great industry insights is an agent known to the twitterverse as @SlushPileHell. His web site, SlushPile Hell, and the accompanying tweets about actual queries combine snark and smart to give you an immediate bellylaugh – but then you start looking at your work to see if you’ve made similar mistakes.

So when the Sizzlers decided to ask some of our favorite people to join us for the Anniversary Celebration, I got in touch with @SlushPileHell right away. Follow, laugh with, and learn from him!

SS: So, can I call you Slush, or do you prefer Mr. Hell?

Let’s go with Mr. Hell. Sounds like I should have my own comic book, which I’ve always wanted.

SS: Without giving away your true identity, what can you tell us about your current job and your experience in the industry?

I’ve been in the publishing industry for about 15 years, on both the publisher and agent side of the business.

SS: Why did you start your blog “SlushPile Hell”?

Well, as an agent when you get these truly awful queries, you can either start drinking heavily or you can find a creative outlet. I chose the latter (while not ruling out the former).

SS: What’s the most important thing to do to keep our queries off your blog?

Well, the good news is that out of the 30 queries or so a day that I receive, there are usually only one or two that are so horrendous that they deserve a spot on SlushPile Hell. If writers will just follow agents’ submission guidelines, use common sense and professionalism, and refrain from making outrageous claims (“I’ve written the best book EVER!”), they’ll immediately rise above the truly abysmal mark. But of course, then the real challenge is rising above the vast sea of mediocrity that most of the other queries and manuscripts are drowning in. That’s where a lot of hard work, rewriting, rewriting, getting some expert opinions on your work, and more rewriting come in. I’d be willing to guess that most of the mediocre queries and manuscripts I see are really just first drafts. Very few writers seem to want to do the exceedingly difficult and less glamorous work of editing and rewriting until everything really sings.

SS: Now, Mr. Hell is, to quote dear Bridget Jones, very busy and important, so we can’t impose more on his/her time. But if you want more, which I know you do, visit the blog at http://slushpilehell.tumblr.com/ and follow @SlushPileHell on twitter.

Thanks, Mr. Hell, for your time and insight! And please, give me a warning before you post one of my queries on your blog!!!

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5 Responses

  1. I LOVE Slush Pile Hell! I find myself reading comments saying “Okay, avoided that, missed that, missed that—uh-oh. Oops. FIXING that!” Recommend the site to every writer, if for nothing but the comic relief.

    PS Dear Slushie–if you let me know what you drink, I will forward a bottle. From what I read, you deserve the occasional escape!

  2. Great post. Enjoyed it almost as much as I enjoy following your tweets and blog. Keep them coming-

  3. I’m jealous that you got Mr. Hell here on the blog! I love Slush Pile Hell. You’ll know when I’m reading it because of the horrified giggles that sound from behind my monitor.

    Great, great post!

  4. I just followed and checked out Mr. Hell’s site. Wow, I think I’ll be checking back often, it’s awesome!

  5. Where did you interview this infamous dude? Was it by phone, over cocktails, at Starbucks, or in an E-mail exchange?

    How did you find his contact information? I would like to interview him for my “marjorie-digest.” I will ask him some really strong questions, like if he thought his blog would be the next Sh*t My Dad Says. Or if he studied comedy writing at the Gotham Comedy Club. When I took a class there with Dan Vitale, there was an agent in the class but I forgot his name. He had awful stage fright and kept running off the stage in the middle of his set. The final night, we did a show at the Gotham Comedy Club and it was a packed house. It was his turn to go up and he stood in front of the mic and was quiet for like 30 seconds and then ran off the stage in front of the audience and all of his family that came to see him. I wish I could recall his name. He said he was an agent and he seemed to have an excellent job, but he just had such terrible stage fright.

    I don’t laugh at all when I read the SPH narisha zach. I think he is as funny as that Unknown Comic who used to be the highlight of The Gong Show. His stuff is what the kids call “snaps.”

    The set up is handed to him and he creates a comeback.

    hahahaha I am up to comment what? 223? Shades of Oscar Whitfield…. now THAT is funny stuff. His story would make one great film. I am surprised an agent doesn’t grab him just to milk that.

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