I woke up today to a winter wonderland - Everything was covered in a lovely blanket of pristine snow. The trees were laced with white, snow covered the rooftops and garden. Little flakes of snow drifted through the morning sky.
By noon it was nearly all gone!
Now there is nothing left of our snow day. All that remains is Slush....
Which brings me to writing. The slush pile, as you all know, is the towering stack of unrequested manuscripts that arrive daily to publishers and agents. To get out of the slush pile, a manuscript has to grab the attention of the person reading it. And often that person has already skimmed over thirty manuscripts and has already got a headache. The APE (agent/publisher/editor) picks up your manuscript. The APE (that looks strange, for some reason. Maybe I better make it a PEA?) Ahem. The PEA picks up your manuscript and reads the cover letter and synopsis. Hopefully you have made both short and to the point, as well as witty, interesting, professional, and intriguing. The PEA then picks up your manuscript and begins to read. If you are lucky, your first sentence is a hook that grabs the PEA. The PEA, now hooked, reads the first page. If your story is well written and flows smoothly, the PEA may find he's already on Chapter Two. (usually you have sent the first three chapters in a blind query. It's not usual to send an entire novel without a request) And the PEA, now interested, reads chapters two and three...and puts your (incredibly witty and intriguing) query and your (enthralling and well-written) manuscript on the 'maybe' desk.
Well, it's a start. The PEA is most likely a HUR, that is, a helpful underpaid reader. Hur will give the query and first three chapters to the real PEA, who, with the HUR's positive remarks, will read them at leisure. Have pity on the HUR; format your manuscript correctly, use spell check, and use a good printer using black ink on white paper.
If all goes well for your book, you will receive a letter on your SASE a few weeks (or months) later from the PEA asking for a Partial or a Full. That means you have passed the first test. You will now send off a Partial manuscript (the number of chapter/pages requested) or the whole thing. You will now wait. Use the time wisely. Write another book.