The latest industry marvel is Ross King, author of historical novel Domino, set in the 18th century and seemingly inspired by the costume design in Amadeus. Ross's publishers, Sinclair-Stevenson, like many publishers, say they never accept unsolicited manuscripts, but unknown Ross not only received an enthusiastic yes within two days, but also got hefty sums for translation rights. What's his secret? Well, he didn't bother writing the whole book before finding a publisher - he sent just a synopsis and sample chapters, accompanied with a letter asking if he was on the right track. Somebody at S-S must have a weakness for dialogue of the "Faugh, my dear, shall we go to a rout to recruit our spirits?" variety.
The slush pile as we know it may well be a dying tradition. "While most publishers regard unsolicited manuscripts as extended hate mail," say innovative publishers Ringpull, they see their "rush pile" as a potential treasure trove. And now authors can send their work (synopsis and 20 pages max) via e-mail for a speedy response. At last, editors whose idea of searching for new talent goes beyond having lunch with a literary agent.
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