You want a look at the slush pile?

I just love the web. Clicking through on a story from Media Bistro just now, I found myself at Rosedog.com. It looks a bit like the Bookner concept, but without the review process.

Take a look. If you click through "walk through the showcase" and then select 'novel' and then 'mystery' you'll see the list I selected for. I like mysteries, I've always got my eye peeled for a good one.

So, once you read that list you'll see pretty much what my slush pile looks like on a bad day.

Notice the spelling errors? Notice the complete lack of hooks?

More important, notice how you start to skim, or skip cause you haven't seen anything you want to read more about?

I'd be very interested to see if anyone from this list has gotten representation or a sale.


Bonnie S. Calhoun said...

Okay Miss Snark, get rid of the % and the o in the link address...it will work better without them :-)

Anonymous said...

Hey, Brian Wiprud's Bin of Squirrels was actually bought by Dell and published as Pipsqueak -- I have read it, and it was pretty decent. I also read his other book Stuffed, which was originally Fifty Dollar Moose Head.

Wacky fun stuff.

I wonder if Rosedog had anything to do with the sale?

ssas said...

ouch. painful stuff there.

mackatlaw said...

I read through the first page of the SF novel section, and it was painful. It brings back dim memories of reading the pile at White Wolf back as an intern. I don't see anything original or interesting enough to want to read further. And spelling errors? Yeesh.

I hope the mystery section wasn't as bad, but it probably was. The "12,000 authors served!" (loosely paraphrasing) does not impress me. How does a bigger slush pile help you again?


Rick said...

I checked out the fantasy section.

Oh, my.

This really clarifies the whole "send 4-5 pages" thing. As writers we sweat that, since it is not enough to give a real flavor of the book, but it's enough to see a) whether the author can write, and b) whether you'd conceivably want to read more. No and no, for the samples I looked at.

But this does raise another interesting question: What are synopses for? You've already said, Miss Snark, what most of us already suspected - that no one can write a decent synopsis. But then what does the synopsis do for you, or for the editors you send it on to? Is it to see if the author has a coherent plot? I can see how a synopsis might telegraph a Really Awful Plot ("The planet on which Ay-dem and Ay-veh are marooned is Earth ..."), but does it help you distinguish between plots that work and plots that are merely lame? And what of books centered more on character than plot, etc.?

Bill Peschel said...

I'm bookmarking this site, for those times when I wonder if I'm ever going to get good enough to be published.

Anonymous said...

The RoseDog concept seems a bit dodgy - do publishers and agents actually use this sort of site?
I've often wondered what happens to your work, as I have heard that if you put it online, it can be considered published.
One thing I noticed is that RoseDog charges for membership, but offers free membership if the writer accepts a contract from Dorrance, a vanity publisher. This also seems suspicious.

Anonymous said...

Hm, I started reading the first story listed in the Mystery section, then I got all jumpy thinking "call it a worm, not a virus, please". Alright, I'm a nitpicker. I've skimmed over a few others, and I'll second what Rick wrote: a few pages is enough to get an idea of the whole style/storytelling (or at least, I guess it is in many cases).

the chocolatier said...

I looked at the historical fiction section. Though it was a long and arduous search, I did actually find some openings that were quite good. The problem was: The ones that were decent were historically incorrect and the ones that were correct were horrible.

Kitty said...

This one in the mystery section caught my eye:
The Good Screw
Rowena Lovelock hires Monk Magus to get her ex-lover off her back. When the ex-lover's wife is found dead, Monk's work becomes more complicated. He falls into the web of Rowena's tangled relationships and states of mind and has to fight his way out.

If only the first paragraph was as "good" as that description.

Bernita said...

I checked out a historical romance.
The writing wasn't so bad, except for a lot of "How dare you"s and "her breath caught in her chest", "panic flooded her body" sort of thing, as well as jewels like "obnoxious smell of sweat and stale wine, mingled with SPENT BODY FLUIDS". In other words, the sentence structure was competent and the grammar/spelling largely correct.
What got me was the claim that William the Conqueror was married to Matilda of Navarre, not Matilda, the daughter of Count Baldwin of Flanders, that William's half-brother Odo of Bayeux, BISHOP of Bayeux, was contemplating marriage with the heroine. The claim that our lady travels in a carriage, rather than in a cart or on horseback, in 1066, is a minor thing in comparison to the major historical errors.

Anonymous said...

I didn't know mainstream was a kind of genre. Egad, that was awfull.

Anonymous said...

Seriously? This is what your slush looks like?

I'm suddenly feeling a bit better about myself...

Sonarbabe said...

Aye caramba! I'm not too keen on mysteries, (Sorry Miss Snark) but I took a look at the romance stories. One sounded good...until I read the excerpt. Oy vey. I may not be Danielle Steel, but I'm certain that my stuff is better than that! Thank you, Madam Snark for making me feel better about my own writing. ;)

Catja (green_knight) said...

Note to self: stop worrying.

Anonymous said...


Considering celibacy was not an absolute requirement until after the First Lateran Council of 1123, is the prospect of Odo wanting to marry that hard to believe?


Gabriele Campbell said...

Bernita, I read this one, too. Ouch. And those mingled metaphors.

Tessa's blood fell to her feet as her heart pounded out of control .... The blood that sailed through her veins turned to ice. I mean, what sort of metabolism has this girl? Little red blood cells with little pink sails?

The rest of historical/historcial romance I checked isn't any better. There's one about the Visigoths that really makes me feel good about my own Visigoth NiP. ;-)

Thanks for sharing that fun, Miss Snark.

I'm afraid the only ones who might check such sites are vanity publishers and the writers who post there are ignorant enough to fall for scams, or they won't post on such sites to begin with but query Miss Snark instead.

Bernita said...

It certainly is in this case.
Very hard to believe.
William for one would neither have promoted nor allowed it, for one.
Not only was he rather strict in this regard, he had need of the compliance of Rome.

And Rome was under the control of various reform minded pontiffs during the 11th c.concerned with a number of abuses within the church and particularly with the question of whether a married priest could serve God.
While I doubt that Odo was in any way celibate, in the narrow sense, I have seen no record that he ever contracted a marriage or that the possibility was ever broached.
Marriage was a political tool, and the politics of the time were against the novelist's construction.Further William had not the slightest need to use marriage to secure estates.

quanty p biederman said...

I found it fascinating how many writers had buried the hook. I attempted to read several, and almost every one had either buried the beginning much farther on, or were telling, telling, telling.

So, of course, I am scurrying back to page one of my own manuscript for the two billionth time. Is the hook in the first line, point upward?

How often do I look at the dang thing before I am satisfied? I can tweak it til the cows come home to prop their Manolos up with a pail of gin. I've written THE END but is it finished? The tale is told, but is it ready?

I'm going to go hide in the closet now.

Bonnie S. Calhoun said...

Bernita, you always make my eyes cross with the historical romance stuff...how you remember all that is beyond me but now you have dennis...he speaks the same language.

Speaking of eyes crossed...man that site is bad, I agree, now I feel way better about my writing!

Amie Stuart said...

>>Oy vey.


Anonymous said...


I browsed the 'juvenile' section. The offer is lame, derivative, and sometimes insulting. Young readers would find these stories irrelevant and boring.

One did look promising, but the first few paragraphs were so dreadful, I couldn't remember why I'd been interested in the story!

Miss Snark, I salute you.

Problem Child said...

The BowWOW page lists RoseDog's successes--all four of them.

Let's see, the books were pubbed by...

Double Dragon Books--epub
Deadly Alibi Press--couldn't find them on the web.

Of course, they have a whole selection by RoseDog books--you pay, they pub.

Not exactly the kind of results these hopeful writers are after.

Sal said...

Back when -- Nov. 1999 -- the subject of Rosedog.com came up in the Usenet newsgroup misc.writing. (It's come up before and since as well. ...)

In response, Jim Macdonald, posted about YADS (Yet Another Display Site) in general, and wrote the following:

In practical terms, putting your work on a display site is about like putting your manuscript in a box and leaving it on a subway platform in hope that an editor will come by. (In fact, most of the publishing houses in New York are physically close together -- you can pick the right subway stop to get an even better chance. There are certain Chineses restaurants in the publishing district which would be better still.)

But let's get tricky about this. How about sneaking your manuscript into the lobby of the publisher's office building? The editors will walk right by it and see the box.

Wait! There's a really sneaky way you can make sure an editor sees your work. Print it out, double spaced, one side of the paper, with one-inch margins all around, and your name and address on the first page. Put it in a box and _mail it to the publisher_! A uniformed Federal worker will deliver your book or story _directly to the editor's desk_! The editor will at least look at your first page
before he or she even thinks about looking on the Internet.

Feisty said...

Wow, that was about as dreadful as I imagined.

Sal said...

Deadly Alibi Press--couldn't find them on the web.

Deadly Alibi Press was legit and genuine as far as I remember. Started up in 2001. Margo Power was editor. Deadly Alibi worked mostly with midlist authors who had lost their publisher. (Sound familiar? Weren't we just talking about that?)

The site is 404. A cursory search, doesn't reveal what happened.

On her site, Carol Cail sez, "Deadly Alibi Press is still dead."

Anonymous said...

Wrenching the plank out of my eye first... my personal favourite (juvenile section) is the novel which is the 'scene setting introduction' for a series of 15 books.

Victoria Strauss said...

RoseDog is owned by vanity publisher Dorrance Publishing Co. (the most expensive print vanity publisher around). RoseDog's own expensive publishing service is just one of Dorrance's recent forays into POD. 'Nuff said!

Jo Bourne said...

They should take ten reasonably readable ones every month and make an 'editors pick' of em.

They might lure agents in to glance at those ten.
They're not all hopeless.



which would probably make a cute short story, at least.

BorderMoon said...

Well, the site's got a lot of good laughs in it, so I suppose it's worth =something=, if only for its amusement value.

Every time I look at one of these new ways to reinvent the wheel to make it square rather than round, I for some reason hear the spectral laughter of P.T. Barnum wafting o'er the ether. Why is that, do you suppose...?