This is topic Slush Readers Wanted in forum Open Discussions About Writing at Hatrack River Writers Workshop.

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Posted by djvdakota (Member # 2002) on :
Greetings, Hatrackians!

Flash Fiction Online is in the market for a handful of slush readers.

Payment: Experience and the love of the chase.
Duties: Read and rate 20 to 30 very short stories per week, plus participate in a monthly winnowing session, in which 15 to 25 stories are read and given constructive criticism.
Time Needed: 3-4 hours per week.

Candidate must be dependable, have a positive attitude and good people skills. Must be able to give effective criticism, with knowledge of grammar and the writing craft. Must be able to effectively manage his/her time. Must be in a position to respond to emails in a timely manner. Publication credits and related education are helpful but not required.

To apply, please send a short resumé, to Editor-in-chief, Suzanne Vincent, at

[ March 22, 2016, 04:02 PM: Message edited by: djvdakota ]
Posted by extrinsic (Member # 8019) on :
My considerations are, on the plus side, Flash Fiction Online enjoys a generally favorable reputation in publication culture, that submission assessment is a writer's education, training, and experience opportunity, and in all a curriculum vitae credit.

On the minus side, foremost, is I know how contentious the process is, even when to a courteous degree; reading 30,000 words or so per week, many of them mediocre and assessing for the least problematic for publication purposes; supporting up and down recommendations, and possible excess correspondence demands. Three to four hours overall required per week seems low, in any case. That much time is adequate for a diligent read of submissions, let alone constructive response to them.

Part of my decision to apply or not is informed by an organization's terminology selection in its published formal and informal correspondence. Though "slush reader" is a culture term in general use, for example, the term is a dysphemism, the opposite of a euphemism, though a euphemism of an even more pejorative term.

On the emotional charge valence scale for "slush" -- about a plus six out of ten; five is neutral; a one is enthusiastic positivity; a ten is extreme negativity. The habit of using a shorthand and pejorative term instead of a neutral or positive term suggests to me a workplace climate is dysfunctional to some degree.

"resume," or acute accent E's to distinguish the noun from the verb of similar spelling and different meaning, résumé or at least resumé, is for a biography of an individual's general public life. A curriculum vitae focuses on activity-specific criteria, for instance, publication culture. The shorthand terms CV or vitae serve, are insider discourse community expressions, broadly known, and are neutral. Plus, curriculum vitae, CV, or vitae avoid the special ligature and format needs of accented vowels and such, that many are indifferent toward in this post technology digital age where such formats are advanced typology.

All the above speak to an organization's culture and inform my decision of whether to apply or not.

I'm undecided as yet whether the pluses outweigh the minuses and whether the minuses could be transcended into pluses.
Posted by djvdakota (Member # 2002) on :
"...positive attitude and good people skills..."

Posted by Disgruntled Peony (Member # 10416) on :
Originally posted by djvdakota:
"...positive attitude and good people skills..."


That's basically a requirement for any job everywhere these days. What lowered my interest is the pay (or lack thereof).
Posted by Denevius (Member # 9682) on :
For anyone who hasn't done slush reading before, I definitely say give it a try just for the experience. Before my first stint reading from the slush pile, I thought there was more "magic" in the selection process for what gets published. As writers, we're told there's all these high standards before publication, and you want to believe that the people engaged in the selection process genuinely have the highest standards of art in mind as they make their decision.

Then you find out its mostly what the main editor likes that gets published, and the slush readers have little to no (usually none) influence on the process. There's a lot more that goes into the decision making process other than whether or not a submitted piece is actually any good.

Sometimes main editors are just trying to impress a select number of people with what, or who, they're going to publish. Other times it's networking, and they'll publish a piece with the hopes that something they write will get published in the accepted person's journal. In grad school, it was important that nothing too controversial got published, as sensibilities are easily offended. The journal is supposedly for young undergraduate/grad students, but older people are paying the bills, and this creates a conflict of interest. What the Dean wants published under the school's name isn't often what a 19 year old sophomore wants to read.

For people looking for slush pile readers, I would suggest two things. 1) payment, even if it's a token payment. If you're breaking the bank by paying someone 80 or so dollars for a month of their time, three hours a week, something is wrong. If you have four volunteers, that would be a whopping 320 dollars.

The other is a guarantee that at least one piece a volunteer reader thinks exemplifies writing gets published. There's nothing more frustrating than taking 3 hours a week for a month reading from the slush pile, and nothing you suggested gets published.
Posted by extrinsic (Member # 8019) on :
Part of why I shared my thought process about this is to open a dialogue about what constitutes flash fiction and, to that end, noted a few signals that, to me, imply an accessible criteria set is as yet under-refined for the genre overall and publications in general.

The few mechanical criteria are the sole emphases of the genre, plus individual houses' sentimental slants, no matter if drama, anecdote, vignette, or sketch; that is, brief length and fundamental story content and organization. Creative slants notwithstood, aesthetic criteria unique to the genre are largely underappreciated and hunch driven by all and sundry. They are qualifiable, though.

Three areas illustrate flash's aesthetics: micro prose, micro meaning, though meaning that transcends the form's space limitations; preserved rawness, of emotion especially, from an inspiration's trigger; and, rather than condensed, is densely packed without appearing crammed and forced, leisurely yet intense, lively, and robust, in other words, synergy: the creation of a whole is greater than the simple sum of its parts.

"Flash" covers the above gamut: flash immediate, flash of raw inspiration and insight, flash intense.

Flash exhorts the kind of compactness that artful poetry exemplifies, though avoids the rhyme and rhythm sing-song cadence of rigid poetry forms, more of a loose foot and slant rhyme type if not the unstructured appearances of informal speech -- appearances only. Prose poetry and flash prose share more in common than apart.

Where flash differs from poetry most are; one, artful flash prose structures along paragraph formats, not verse, a mechanical consideration only; two, favors informal voices, emotionally charged and stream-of-consciousness methods; three, is more densely and transcendentally meaningful due in part to less restrictive style and format criteria.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words -- a proverb derived from publication culture, by the way. Engravings earned their artists the pay of one thousand words and occupied the same page real estate as one thousand words, or other comparable pay to page real estate schedules. Now the proverb is an aesthetic metaphor and idiom.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, and reflects the words themselves, flash reflects ten thousand words' meaning for a picture's thousand or the work's superficial one thousand or so words. This is flash in all its glories.

[ March 23, 2016, 01:31 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]
Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
I'm guessing that Suzanne posted here because she's a Hatrack participant from a while ago and thought she'd pay some back at the same time as paying it forward.

No one is required to sign up, but I can say, as Denevius did, that slush reading can be a very enlightening experience.
Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
A little background:

Flash Fiction Online was created by hatrackers, and originally staffed by volunteer hatrackers. The staff did so with the goal of having an SFWA accredited e-zine solely for flash fiction. The goal succeeded, and it was the first market accredited by the SFWA. Since it's inception, the ownership and Editor-in-Chief have changed, and staff have come and gone--much like here at hatrack. If you want to learn about concise language, hooks and what bad submissions consist of, this would be a good place to start.
Posted by hoptoad (Member # 2145) on :
and suzanne is awesome... so you know
Posted by Nick T (Member # 8052) on :
My two cents. I've been paid for slush reading and I've done it for free. Both times I did it for the experience; there's certainly better ways of making money.

Both times, it gave me a better idea of why some stories work and why some don't. It's debatable whether it added much more than extra writing time would have done, but sometimes a change is as good as a holiday, you know? It's one of those things I'd recommend someone do at least once, just to see if it works for them.

As an aside, FFO has a good reputation in the genre.
Posted by aspirit (Member # 7974) on :
Howdy. I have a question that doesn't have to be to Suzanne: What should a resumé for slush reading include?
Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
Well, you could say that you've participated in Orson Scott Card's Hatrack River Writers Workshop forum for x amount of time.


Couldn't hurt, could it?

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