Taking "Writing Revenge" Too Far

| Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Today's Tune: The Only Place

You've probably heard of the Revenge Query/Revenge Submission, but if you haven't, here's the general idea: when you're querying or submitting your work and you receive a rejection, part of your coping mechanism is to immediately send out another query/submission. It keeps you active and is kind of a mental "Oh yeah, you don't want my book? Fine, maybe the next person will. THAT'LL SHOW YOU."

I have mixed feelings about the Revenge Query. When I was querying, I definitely partook in sending out fresh queries in response to rejection, but I thought of it less as "revenge" and more as keeping the ball rolling and reminding myself I had other options. I think that's a healthy way to look at it. And I'd be 100% Grade-A Liar if I pretended I never felt disappointed or cranky about certain rejections, and that I never had moments of "Yeah, well, I'M GOING TO MAKE IT SOMEDAY SO THERE." Those feelings are natural. Of course we all feel sad and cheated and maybe even angry when we shoot so hard for something and no one seems to care. So, if it helps people cope to privately think "You'll be sorry when the next agent picks me up" and then send another query, I think they should.

My mixed feelings on the issue come in when this stops being a private coping mechanism and instead turns into actual agent/editor bashing. I think sometimes it's difficult for us to understand how this can't be personal because it IS so personal to us. The business side of the publishing industry can really suck that way. It can be infuriating when a book we think is total schlock gets picked up for six figures and movie deals and bestseller-dom and lots of media attention and etc. etc. etc. while we're sitting here like WHAT THE HELL. Sometimes it's a money game, and that's the unfortunate place where art and business meet. You can't make and distribute good art unless you have money.

It seems like many aspiring authors cut their "coping revenge" with such a heavy dose of bitterness over the unfair aspects of the industry that it becomes an actual desire for revenge. It becomes okay to call this agent a bitch for rejecting you, or that editor a tasteless money-grubbing fool, or to otherwise demonize the publishing gatekeepers. They become a faceless devil shoveling money into the fire-filled maw of a bloated industry, and it becomes acceptable to think of them as heartless, greedy jerks. And you know, I imagine there really are some heartless, greedy jerks in this industry, because they're in every industry. However, most of them got into publishing because there's nothing they love more than quality literature. They want to give the public good books. Unfortunately, good books aren't free to produce.

There's nothing wrong with deciding that you don't like the way this system works and deciding to try it on your own. That's fair. Just try not to make that decision because you want to stick it to someone. You're not proving anything to anyone by saying SCREW YOU, YOU'LL BE SORRY and doing your own thing. They're not maliciously out to get you, even if it might feel like that sometimes. People seem to operate under the age-old trope that if you make yourself successful, all the people who never gave you a chance will suddenly see the error of their ways, gnash their teeth, and beg you to forgive them for their stupidity. That doesn't happen. Those people are not going to cry themselves to sleep at night because they "lost" you. You're not going to make them sorry. All you'll be doing is holding on to a lot of anger and negativity.

So yes, if it helps you feel better to have a moment of "grrr" followed by a Revenge Query, do that. Just don't let those Revenge Queries turn into actual revenge and eternal bitterness. Hope for success and happiness, not groveling and vengeance.

What do you think, guys? Do you feel like writers can take the "Revenge Query" too far?


{ JeffO } at: June 20, 2012 at 5:46 AM said...

Absolutely. And rather than follow up a rejection with an immediate query, any rejection should be followed by some degree of reflection--maybe the query needs tweaking; maybe your search parameters need adjusting; maybe your book needs fixing. Not that every rejection should be met with an overhaul of letter/pages, etc., but think about it.

Worse than the revenge query, though, is the Revenge Blog/Tweet/Forum post where someone gets on a public forum and goes off on said agent/editor/the System in general. You never know who's reading, or whether there could be ramifications down the line.

{ Old Kitty } at: June 20, 2012 at 7:56 AM said...

Oooh you know when I first started blogging - oh those naive times!! LOL! - I did come across a blogger who although on her blog stated she was documenting her writer journey, instead used her blog to publish her rejection letters in full - i.e. with the agent's address, agent's name and agent's company etc - then proceed to go through the letter line by line and adding her own choice words of what she thought of them. Put it this way, she wasn't polite, there were expletives galore and she made a lot of charming curses (a plague on yer house type but not as eloquent as that even!) on said agent. This despite many who commented for her to please stop because she was harming herself more than anything. I have absolutely no idea what's happened to her now but it made me realise just how easy it is to lose sight of the big dream in a sea of fevered self-righteous anger! Take care

{ Matthew MacNish } at: June 20, 2012 at 11:39 AM said...

I've heard of sending a new one out for each rejection, but I've never head it called a revenge query. Interesting.

{ prerna pickett } at: June 20, 2012 at 12:52 PM said...

i didn't even know such a thing existed. I'm like you, if i get rejected I go back and fix the query. I've never had bitter feelings about it. It sucks,but you move on.

{ Joanne Guidoccio } at: June 20, 2012 at 2:13 PM said...

First time I've heard about the revenge query. I like to reflect on my query and fix it before sending it out again.

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