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WSJ Discovers the Difficulties of Unrepresented Writers

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On Friday, the Wall Street Journal published an article entitled “The Death of the Slush Pile.” It’s a perfectly acceptable article but what interests me is how completely not-news this thing is. I realize that WSJ readers are not writers and are probably not familiar with publishing.

But still, can anyone be surprised by the fact that it’s hard for unrepresented, unknown writers to get their work read? Even for the casual reader of the New York Times with the regular “death of publishing” articles should know about the situation. And to trot out the age old examples of Harry Potter’s rejections, etc, just adds to the not-news aspects.

What next? An article on “Few Musicians Ever Sell Out Stadium Tours” or “It’s Hard to Reach George Clooney Status if You’re an Actor.” I don’t work on music or in Hollywood, yet I know that those things are incredibly difficult to accomplish. I would have thought the same thing about non-writers understanding that it’s almost impossible to get a book published if you’re just sending manuscripts around blindly.

Having said all that, the article itself is fine. I’m just curious as to how the assignment came about? What made a WSJ editor exclaim, “We have to report on the difficulty of getting published now!”