There's an interesting post by Mary Jones on the Picador blog, about slush piles (which gives me the opportunity to recycle in my title Tallulah Bankhead's pitiless analysis of herself). If you read it, don't miss my comment.
Talking about slush piles, I have the honour of having been winkled out from one, many years ago, by Neil Belton, or whoever did his preliminary reading for him, when he was at Cape. He held onto the novel for many months, trying to persuade the paperback division that they wanted to publish it as much he did. He didn't, alas, succeed, but the fact that he found, and supported, the book - sent cold, complete and without an agent - is very much to his credit. And it's proof that, at least once, a manuscript did make it from the pile to an enthusiastic editor's desk, even if it went no further.