Wednesday, April 3, 2013

What Does the Slush Pile Look Like? Part 2

Happy Wednesday!

Last week, I did some analytics on the Rate Your Story slush pile. (In case you missed that post, click here.)

I also made an offer, and got 14 responses, many of which went to SPAM mail. (Another reason why you should always politely follow up with agents and/or editors).

If you remember from last week, my offer was good to the first 15 respondents.  That means there's one spot left for a critique from Miranda!! Who will be the lucky one to contact me first? You, I hope! Email Miranda if you'd like in on the offer.

But now, to today's post, I'd like to share a little more of what the slush pile looks like.

Rated 8-10 – approx. 10%

Rated a 5-7 – approx. 40%

Rated a 3-4 – approx. 29%

Rated a 2 - approx. 12%

Rated a 1 – approx. 2%

No Rating or Uncertain Rating: 7%

(P.S. Miranda tried very hard to make this a pretty chart/graphic in her new spreadsheet program, but gave up after 30 minutes. She cites the early morning hour as her downfall on this one.)

Now, let's remember a little bit about what the rating scale means:

1= a volunteer judge saw it as completely submission ready. That means that among nearly 800 manuscripts, our judges were ecstatic about exactly 15. If our judges were editors, that would probably translate to a "read-on-Wednesday, make-an-offer-by-Friday" sort of response.

5 = a volunteer judge saw it as better than average, but still needing work.

7 = a volunteer judge decided that your overall idea had merit (so don't throw it out!) but the MS needed a lot of revision.

10 = a volunteer judge decided that the current MS should be considered as practice and you'll need to re-envision a completely new story or concept.

Now that I've said that, remember:

Our volunteer judges, like agents and editors, are SUBJECTIVE. 

You could submit the exact same manuscript twice to Rate Your Story and get two different ratings. I've had particular volunteer judges pass on rating manuscripts because they had a fear of the subject matter or had just read three other manuscripts about talking dogs, farm animals, etc. Don't take ratings from RYS personal. We're doing our best to help you (for free), and give you a dose of what's really out there.

Now, if you've scored a 5 or higher on any MS, go do a dance like this: 

Or this:

Your work is already better than average. It stands out. It's probably being read in its entirety if you're actively submitting it. Use that to fuel you during the revision process and get it from the "good" pile to the "GREAT" pile.

But dancing isn't just for 5s and better. If you've scored a 7 or higher on any MS, go do a dance, like this:

Your work has merit! There is hope! DO NOT THROW IT AWAY. All is not lost, and you've got some direction to help that story find its way into print. Listen carefully to feedback, but save something from the original. Play around with the manuscript. You can always revert back to an older draft. Who knows what you'll find when you revise.

And if you've scored an 8, 9, or 10 on a MS, you also must do a dance, like this:

You've successfully avoided a possible rejection! Hooray! You've been given a chance to re-envision your story before it was too late, and gotten a fresh and professional eye to give you direction on making stronger choices.

Since many editors and agents have a "no means no forever" policy, you often only get one shot in today's tough market. Our service has helped offer you insight on whether or not your MS is ready for that one shot. We're that friend holding your finger back from (or pushing it towards) the send button.

And, when you get those offers, we're here, dancing with you!

(Oddly, this is what Miranda and the RYS crew really look like when we dance. . .)

Have a great day! 

(P.S. Miranda's really already dancing because we got great news from an RYS submitter this week. Plus she's so excited for what's up next week, she might even post it early. . .)


  1. Very interesting data! Thanks for sharing and giving up your time!

  2. An update: All 15 critique spots have now been filled. If you missed out, there may be opportunities again in the near future, so keep checking back!

  3. Very interesting stats and explanations.
    And I LOVE how Miranda and the RYS crew dance-- I'm not sure how to rate your dancing but you guys are making an effort! Keep on dancing!

  4. We will keep on dancing, Dana! You too!

  5. OK, I tackled the bell curve graphic project as well and failed miserably. And I do not have the early morning excuse, just spreadsheet ignorance!

    Nonetheless - thank you for the info Miranda!

  6. This is great, Miranda. Thanks for taking the time to do this breakdown (and for the breakdance :-)

  7. Miranda,
    Thanks so much for showing us the numbers and for posting the entertaining dances!!!! I appreciate the service you and the other judges offer! It's fabulous!

  8. RYS rocks as a tool to determine if a manuscript is submission ready. Thanks for all you put into this, Miranda!

  9. Miranda...maybe there will be a spot for you and RYS on 'Dancing with the Stars' next season. :) Love the way you explained the rating system...this is an awesome service for all of us.:)_

  10. Every part of this is just awesome! I am so happy for your the breakdown...adore the dancing. Thank you for all you do!

  11. Thanks so much for doing this. I don't know why I find all these data so fascinating, but I do. It's also helpful to know how to dance for each rating, since my own dancing style is sort of more like Elaine on Seinfeld (and therefore, never appropriate).


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