QueryTracker Blog

Helping Authors Find Literary Agents

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Getting revenge on an agent who rejected you

Recently a rude writer blew up Twitter by posting a nasty takedown of a wicked, wicked agent who somehow failed to perceive his brilliance. Her crime: he paid to pitch to her at a conference and yet she wasn't interested in his manuscript.

He retaliated via a blog post in which he called her frumpy and "pear-shaped" and all sorts of insults of equal sagacity.

Don't do this. Ever. EVER.

Why? Because there are far, far better ways of getting revenge on an agent who failed to perceive your brilliance. I mean, seriously, guys, you're writers. How can a writer be this bad at exacting revenge? Use your imagination. Come up with a revenge that sparkles with brilliance. I've compiled a few suggestions.

Are you ready? Take notes.

1) Send a "revenge query." A revenge query is a query you send within an hour of getting any rejection that leaves you feeling bitter. You send the query to an entirely different agent at an entirely different agency. You in no way mention the rejection that caused your sending of the query. (In fact, you should never mention that you've been rejected by anyone at all; let every agent think you're querying him or her first. Why begin your potential business relationship with the taint of previous failures?)

In effect, you're querying on the rebound. This achieves a few important goals. First, by spending a bit of quality time on the main QueryTracker site, you will find there are plenty of fish in the sea, and you may even find an agent who's better than the agent who rejected you. (Wait, did I say may? No, you will. As my husband muttered the first time he heard Adele's Someone Like You, "No, I want to find someone better than you." But I digress.)

Secondly, you'll cool down a bit while you're spending time researching this much-better agent, and you'll cool down even more when you're assembling your query to match this better agent's submission guidelines. Use your angry energy to attach the one-page synopsis rather than the five-page synopsis.

Third, you'll be spreading your hopes out a bit among the agenting pool rather than focusing your intensity on just one. Once you know your query is working, you should always have about ten "live' queries floating about out there, or maybe as high as fifteen. (That's in addition to any submissions you have "live" with agents.)

2) Work on your next piece, something so brilliant that no one can possibly reject it. They think you're not marketable? Well, you can show them. You can go read other books in your genre and analyze them for their marketing appeal. You can work on improving your characterization or your story structure. You can work on building your platform too. You can network with other writers and maybe find an awesome set of critique partners.

As they say, "Living well is the best revenge." I strongly suggest writing well is just as good a revenge. Think about the day that agent sees your work again on the NYT bestseller list and recognizes you as the querier he or she spurned. Imagine yourself saying, "Yeah, actually, because you rejected me, I worked on those issues I had with dialogue, and now I'm a better writer. I guess I should thank you."

What this type of revenge accomplishes is that it forms you up as a better person. You know you have literary potential, and it burns to think the agent missed it. Well, develop that potential. After all, it's much easier to snag an agent with achievement than with potential.

3) Never contact that agent again. You want revenge? This is an awesome revenge. Go ahead and write a work of scathing brilliance, something that scintillates with imagination and the lushness of the human experience. And then, when you have that glittering masterpiece in your hands, don't share it with that agent. Query other agents instead.

The whole point of a snub is silence, so don't tell the rejecting agent that you've in turn rejected him or her. Let that agent figure it out for himself when other agents are having drinks and sharing knowing looks because they all have their hands on a splendid novel while he doesn't.


These are the tactics a professional uses to get revenge after rejection. Rather than directing that anger outward at the agent, it's far better to direct you energy inward toward your career. Because remember, the instant you decided to query, that's the instant you became a professional with the need to behave in a professional manner.

Professionals do not write venomous blog posts about agents who declined the opportunity to represent them. Professionals do not attack an agent's appearance as though that pertains in any way to her intelligence or work ethic. Professionals do not burn their bridges by thinking everyone with a computer wants to see them having a tantrum. A high-vocabulary tantrum is still a tantrum, and readers will associate your name with someone who acts like a two-year-old.

And agents. And editors. And you yourself, eventually, when you realize how you acted and feel ashamed of yourself.

Your goal is to become a better writer and bring your stories to as many as you can. That takes discipline. That takes focus.

And yeah, sometimes it takes getting rejected and dusting yourself off, figuring out what went wrong, and making corrections.

Your professional growth never, never, never, never, never, under any circumstances, involves telling off the other professional who rejected you.

Write well. Sell well. That's the best revenge.


Nadine Poper said...

OMG!! This is great! At first I actually thought you were going to tell people how to truly be revengeful in a nasty way. Thank you. I laughed through this post.

Jane Lebak said...

Well, I'm nothing if not evil.