“Solicit” sounds salacious and illicit. It’s word redolent of streetwalkers and door-to-door salesmen. But it also means “to ask” and asking doesn’t have to be nasty, does it?
For example, what if writers were solicited? Even unknown writers, I mean. I know, I know–I’m talking crazy-talk, but just humor me for a second.
What if this old slush-pile-on-an-agent’s-desk thing is a dead fish? I bet even the agents would agree that their giant, rotten slush-piles are just not working.
What if writers made their writing public (on a blog or a social network or Tumblr, for example) where publishers could find them?
Couldn’t publishers devise a better way of trolling what’s out there to find what they’re interested in? (Search engines, hunts for clever keywords, a smart and connected group of “friends” who “like” good stuff… they could team up with WordPress, they could follow trends, I don’t know, but maybe clever people could find a way.) (For those of you who argue that publishing should not be a popularity contest, let’s not kid ourselves.)
I know, it’s a dream, a delerious fantasy. But I also know it’s possible, because Hugh Behm-Steinberg, the faculty editor for ElevenEleven, the literary journal by California College of the Arts, solicited me. Yes, that’s right, he wrote me an email asking me to submit a piece of prose. I don’t know how he found me but he did and now my story Down River is included in their 12th issue. (Please excuse me for repeating this but I just can’t believe it’s true.)
What is the opposite of “slush-pile”? What’s an antonym for nasty, salacious groveling?
It’s a breath of fresh air, a civilized, pleasant exchange. Just think of all the time, pain, binge-drinking, nail-biting, head-banging, and drudgery that was avoided by this simple, elegant twist. And my blog is not particularly popular.
Is there hope for us all or am I just dreaming?