Internly Insights #5: From the Slush Pile

I’ve been digging through the slush pile for more than over a year now. Give or take a couple of months, since I was internship-less during the fall. It’s a struggle to read through all the crap and my friends don’t know how I manage to do it. Heck, I don’t even know how I manage to do it sometimes. I hate to say it knowing that there are a lot of aspiring writers out there (including my best friend), but there is a ton of really bad writing out there.

What exactly classifies as “bad writing”? Mind you, this is purely objective. Judging a manuscript is about taste. My taste is different from the other interns that I work with, different from other bloggers, different from other readers. “Bad writing” is really a broad phrase and could mean one or more of the following: contrived dialogue, unrelatable characters, uninteresting plot, etc.

Reading from the slush pile is an experience that can be explained as such: imagine the worst or the most boring book you’ve ever read. Now think about reading the first twenty or so pages of said book fifty times. It’s not exactly fun… Sometimes I do feel the need to gouge my eyes out.

So what make reading through the slush pile worth it? Finding that hidden gem. I find a sense of thrill of going through the slush, hopeful that maybe today I will find one that is more than just okay. I found one that I really enjoyed this week and it made me really happy to say that, “Hey! This one just might be worth taking a look at!” It was far from perfect – but I saw the potential, the strength of the author’s voice…. I thought it would be a great fit for the current YA market.

But at the end of the day, the decision on whether or not to sign said author is out of my hands. All I can do is recommend it, hope that the second reader will take delight in the story as much as I did, and hope that Agent will think the same.

Questions? Comments? I’ll address anything you’re wondering about internship-related things all at my next Internly Insights post!

Previous Internly Insights:
#1: First Assignment
#2: How to Snag an Internship
#3: Behind the Job
#4: Non-NYC Internships and Writing a Pitch

On a side note, I’m sorry that I’ve been slacking on updates. Since this is my blog, I really shouldn’t be apologizing that I haven’t been able to update, but I do feel bad that I haven’t been able to read as much. I am in the middle of midterms – and I should be studying right now, but I’m a procrastinator extraordinaire – so all I’ve had time for is work, internship, and a bit of reading. I did just finish Jane Eyre – a classic, not really YA so I doubt you’ll see me write a review about that. Getting through it alone was an accomplishment. I will start reading Warped tonight if I make it out of studying alive. I’ve caught up with all my scheduled posts so bear with me while I try not to drown in all my school work. Unfortunately, spring break is far, far away.


  1. Did you by any chance look into “virtual position” internships? Where I live is close to NYC, but too far to travel there daily (and too expensive to live there). So I’ve been looking into virtual internships, where I can work remotely from home. I was just wondering if you, or anyone you know, has had any experience with those. I’m a tad skeptical and keep seeming to get automated replies in response to my apps.

    On a side note, I hope midterms go well for you! :]

  2. This may be kind of a silly question, but how far into the books do you need to read before you can determine they’re not good enough to recommend? Are there any requirements, or can you just stop as soon as you know it’s not worth continuing?

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