How to Avoid the Slush Pile by Lisa Dunn

Querying is scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few simple pointers I hope will give you a little direction and a lot of confidence! 

  1. Research Publisher Guidelines: Anaiah Press’s submission guidelines, like those of most publishers, are posted online, and you disregard them at your own risk ( As you can see if you read the guidelines—AND YOU SHOULD ALWAYS READ THE GUIDELINES—there are certain things Anaiah simply won’t publish. Frankly, if your protagonist is a serial killer vampire who hates Christians but has fallen in lust with nice, believing girl… Your failure to research the publisher earns you the form rejection I’m going to send.

    Anaiah’s required word counts are listed in our guidelines. If your manuscript is within a few thousand words of our guidelines, we might be able to add or cut words during revisions, but I’d rather you do that work BEFORE querying. If your count is low, look for elements you might be able to explore more deeply. If it’s too high, get serious about cutting extraneous words and scenes. The stronger your manuscript is when it hits my desk, the more likely I am to accept it and the freer I’ll be to focus on the intricate details that will take your manuscript to the next level.

  2. Send a Good Query: In addition to being an editor, I’m an author, so I understand how stressful it is to hit send on a query. Here’s the good news: I’m not a stickler. I don’t care if you address your query to Lisa, Lisa Dunn, Ms. Dunn, Mrs. Dunn, Dear Editor… If I acquire your manuscript, we’ll be sending emails without names before long, so whatever. I also don’t care about personalization. If there’s a specific reason you chose me, great. If you stumbled upon my name and decided to take a chance, great. If you discover a typo or grammatical error after you hit send, relax… It’s literally my job to correct your mistakes. As long as your query is reasonably coherent, we’ll be okay.

    My ideal query is clear and succinct, with minimal bio because as much as I love my authors, I need to fall in love with the story first. Give me a quick overview (Character wants THIS, but THAT) with a hint of how faith plays into the whole thing so I know I’m not wasting my time on a manuscript I can’t acquire because it’s not actually Christian fiction. Then, let your beautiful first ten pages woo me.

  3. Pay Attention to My Wishlist: You can get a feel for what I want here: or by inputting “#MSWL @authorlisadunn” into Twitter’s search bar. Try not to stretch your manuscript to fit my wishlist, but if you see something I’ve posted that makes you think I’d love your manuscript, do mention it. If you really want to know what catches my attention, read the books I’ve written or edited for Anaiah Press, which I’ll include at the end of this post.
  4. Write a Good Story: When all is said and done, the manuscript is what matters. I have to abide by Anaiah’s guidelines and I do want clean queries for manuscripts that resonate with my wishlist, but even if the premise and themes are far removed from my wishlist, a gorgeously written, well-told story will catch my attention every time and cover over a multitude of querying sins, with the possible exception of #5…
  5. Don’t Be a Jerk: This should go without saying, but I’m going to say it: Be kind, polite, and professional.

But you’re not a jerk, so polish with care and query with confidence!

Anaiah Books I’ve Edited:

The Truth About Romantic Comedies (

A Sinking Star (

Safe on Solid Ground (

Perfectly Imperfect (

Petrified Flowers (

Anaiah Books I’ve Written  

Grit of Berth and Stone (

Heir of Koradin (

Child of Thresh (

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