Tweet Your Rejection Letter: A Writer’s Guide to Being the Worst
Want to get on the wrong side of every editor, agent, and publisher in the business? Here you go!
By Melissa DeVrieze
Hey, writer! Are you tired of repressing your rage when confronted with criticism and rejection? Does it seem like you’ll start screaming and never stop if you read one more perky #amwriting tweet? Have you found yourself fantasizing about driving your career over a cliff just to avoid hearing one more “little note” from your workshop partner?
Good news, old sport: for those too fragile to continue yet too proud to quit, there’s a third option. It’s called “alienating everyone,” and it’s easier than you think. If you’re ready to nuke your career, take my hand, and let’s go over this ledge together.
Nurture your darlings. Give them light and love
First things first: don’t bother revising. Did Tolstoy chop out the best bits of Anna Karenina? Did Flaubert hack away at Madame Bovary? Who knows? Not you—you’ve never read those books. And why should you? Do they even have a semi-autobiographical protagonist who soliloquizes about your pet issues and subtly shades your exes?
If you want to look over your first draft and polish it up, go ahead, but don’t you dare soften the edge of that brave new voice. Now is the time to really lean into your whims and experiment with the form. Have you always wanted to use “em” and “en” dashes interchangeably? Do it. Don’t know when to use ellipses? Don’t worry about it. You are YOU and can do these things other writers cannot.
Research is for the weak; submit and query at random
Before submitting to a literary journal or querying a publisher, lesser writers do their research. Luckily for you, you’re not a lesser writer. Any publication worth their salt should jump at the chance to publish you, so it follows that you should submit wherever you want. Seriously, it’s fine. They’ll work it out on their end with a bidding war or whatever.
Who needs guidelines when you’ve got genius?
No, you’re right. Comic sans IS ironic. Do it. Submit your book the way it was meant to be read.
Also, you can skip the cover letter if it seems like too much work. Just say something vague like, “you really need to experience this book, I can’t possibly explain it to you,” so the recipient knows they’re in for something special.
Really push back on those rejections
If an editor or agent rejects you and you don’t tag her and call her a humorless old hag on Twitter, how will she know you’re displeased? You may have been frustratingly vague while querying, but you need to be inexhaustibly verbose while retaliating. Approach rejections as the start of a monologue. A public monologue, that is, during which your followers must choose sides and battle to the last. If you can find a way to drag other writers into the fray and insult their work while you’re at it, all the better.
Demand an explanation or, better yet, justice
Brief yet polite rejections may be fine for hobbyists and high schoolers, but you’re a serious writer, and you deserve serious attention. Before forgiving those who commit the crime of rejecting you, demand lengthy, detailed, free feedback. How else can you be confident they even GOT it? Quiz them and make sure they’re capable of understanding your work. Insist they prove their credibility. Mock their alma mater. Call their boss. Have your dad see to it they never work in this town again.
Is another writer celebrating a recent success? Time for 3000 words about why you’re better than them
This is what your Medium account was made for. Drag them. Tag their mom.