Do interns really go through the slush pile or have I wasted my coffee money on stamps?
How does a regular person with no connections and no money get an agent?
Will the good houses ever be open to unsolicited ms?
How do you get your foot in the door? Really?
Ali Baba sees a bunch of people walking back from a mountain, loaded down with jewels and precious metals. He imagines the treasure cave they must have found. "There must be some trick to getting in," he thinks to himself. "Some magic phrase."
So he starts stopping each guy as he passes.
"Is it 'abracadabra'?" he asks the first guy. The guy just shakes his head.
"Is it 'hocus pocus'?" he asks the second guy. The second guy just shakes his head.
He keeps asking until finally around the seventh or eighth guy he says, "Is it 'open sesame'?"
The guy stops and looks at him. "Wow," he says. "You just don't get it." The guy swings a big, heavy hammer off his shoulder, where he's been carrying it. "You see this sledge hammer?" says the guy to Ali Baba. "I made this. And it's not my first one. Every treasure I've pulled from that mountain I've hammered out of it with my own hands."
The answers to your questions:
1. Yes, and not just interns.
2. You query them and submit to them the same as you'd do for a publisher.
3. There are good houses open to unsolicited manuscripts.
4. First you've got to create something strong. And then you've got to really work.