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slush pile

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A low-priority queue of manuscripts and book proposals that were sent to a traditional publisher directly by the author, rather than through a literary agent.

In traditional publishing, publishers receive far more manuscripts and book proposals than they are able to bring to market.

Authors who are represented by a literary agent are, in a sense, "pre-screened" and therefore given higher priority than unrepresented authors, whose work is of completely unknown quality.

Also see: traditional publishing, book proposal, literary agent.