As some of you may or may not know, I am currently a slush reader for the Trust and Treachery Anthology that is going to be published later this year. Now, when I first began this journey it was as a way to get me back into writing, as well as giving me some experience working on the publishing side of things…But now it has become a whole new animal.

I have spent a lot of time reading, and have gotten very little umph to write out of it…but I have gotten a lot of gigglefits and screaming done.

Ok, ok, so this isn’t how to annoy a slush reader as much as it is a cautionary tale. The whole, “there but for the grace of God go I” and all that. Oh wait, I’ve gone there! Take a few minutes and review this little list I’ve made.  Trust me, after seeing these mistakes in just the few short months I’ve worked on this anthology I can promise you I’ll try never to make them again! (For the sake of my fellow slush readers if nothing else!)

5 1/2. If you don’t know what a word means, don’t use it.
You can’t “wonder through a town”…well, I guess you can, but I doubt that is the picture you are trying to conjure.

5. Basic Grammar and Spelling
I’m a terrible speller, and even worse at grammar…but EVERYONE has a friend that is better at that sort of nuts and bolts stuff than you. So, please, for the love of God give your story to that person before you submit it and we can all avoid you eating “potato’s”.

4. That cliché is like an old, worn shoe.
Comfy, sure, but a bit tattered around the edges. If you are going to go to a job interview, you might want to break out the new shoes, ya know? (Same goes for morals, avoid them “like the plague”! )

3. Format is there for a reason!
It is not easy to read strange fonts, or single spaced documents. It is sort of jarring to open a story with no title page or header. It is difficult to discuss story points when there are no page numbers. It may look boring, but trust me, we selfless slush readers will bless you if you can just follow proper format.

2. A rejection is final.
Take your rejection like an adult. Please do not write the editors to tell them that the slush reader that read your story was obviously mistaken in her evaluation of your ham-fisted attempt at literature. If you must write why not ask for a quick critique, or one piece of advice for your story.

1. Story Interruptus
Yeah, we can tell when you’ve gotten tired of writing the story. Build me up, build me up, and bang…leave me hanging. BAH! NO! If you’ve got a story, it needs an ending…give it that ending, not something slapdash or just tagged on at the last minute. Respect your story and the places you are submitting it to enough to think about your ending and actually WRITE it.

About the author

NRBrown N.R. Brown is a part-time author, full-time book junkie. She particularly loves horror and dark fantasy. She is the co-host of Unleaded - Fuel for Writers and a member of the Hellebore Writing Group and the Cat Vacuuming Society of Northern Virginia writers group, as well as of the Chessie Chapter of Sisters in Crime.