This WSJ article on the death of the slush pile has been getting batted around various blogs this week. One thing I feel like the writer should’ve addressed with more than one sentence is the current economic climate. That’s the real answer to the question: Why is the slush pile being phased out? There’s not enough manpower to read this stuff, and if times were better, I think it’s safe to say there would be. I believe these things go in cycles, and when publishing houses figure out how to reconfigure themselves to make money, more unsolicited work will get attention. There may be more writers than ever, but there are also more readers than ever. I honestly believe that. And so does the Paris Review, apparently. This is why they’re tapping interns and graduate students as readers. If times were better, these interns would be paid.
To add to this article, though, I could also say that, in my experience, editors not reading anything not recommended by agents also extends down a level to agents not reading anything not recommended by agented writers. The point is, it’s always better to know people and make connections to get your foot in the door. But I still believe that if times were better in the publishing industry, the slush would get more attention.