Is there any polite way publicly to shame an upper-middle-sized book publisher that sat on a novel manuscript for more than a year because the editor was busy blogging about the sleazy unprofessionalism of other publishers? I want to get revenge with viral humiliation while simultaneously keeping doors open for future submissions, if I ever happen to have another large segment of my life to waste.
We have discussed your question at length and the outcome of our debates leaves us divided. We therefore will respond in apparent contradiction, in the belief that the law of noncontradiction is the remnant of a Modern worldview whose cadaver yet leaks poofs of toxic gas. Yes. There is a polite way to publicly shame the publisher. ‘Passive-Aggression’ (PA) is the term for polite shaming/ blaming/ maiming. PA has been the preferred trickster approach of disempowered people (and people who feel disempowered) who rely on an enemy to meet (or at least not to interfere with) their needs for well-being. Here are two PA approaches to your problem:
- Send out an email or social post to your literary community and include the publisher on the list. in the persona of outraged victim-hero, write a note that states your deep respect for the publisher you’ve sent your manuscript to and ask whether anyone knows if they’ve hit upon hard times, and if so, is there anything you all, as a group might do to intervene. Mention that this house has an impeccable reputation and that you’re worried about the publishing house because publishers are so incredibly overworked and face so uncertain a future, given the rapid evolution of the literary-entertainment industry. Mention that this press is considering your manuscript, to your great delight, and that in the year you’ve been awaiting response, you’ve noticed the publisher’s increasing efforts to push back against the most offensive and unethical behaviors of competing houses. Ask how you might all band together to help this press in its valiant effort to support ethical social behavior in the publishing industry.
- Take out an anonymous ad in a literary venue – online or print. In this ad, warn consumers that this publisher is more interested in venting its frustration than in reading submissions, and is therefore a vanity press, primarily publishing the writings of its own editors rather than the work of other authors. When the ad appears, write the publisher and say that you saw the ad, found it both inaccurate and offensive, and thank the publisher again for considering your submission.
On the other hand, we wonder whether you’ve ever experienced a lasting satisfaction from revenge. We fear that you have come to perceive yourself as a victim, overpowered and imprisoned by the whims of one entity. This sense of being at the publisher’s mercy and lacking agential power might provoke in you an unhelpful obsession with the publisher. We wonder if you’ve ever previously experienced this sort of obsession with entities you believe have power over you. We especially wonder if you have experienced this sense of being over-powered by any authority figure who squelched your agency and interfered in the extreme with your well-being. Experiences of being radically disempowered or injured can incite feelings that this sort of injustice is happening in the present, even though it isn’t. So, we advise that you find a sustainable practice that allows you to forgive and (to re-forgive) your mother.
Please feel free to use either or both approaches in addressing your problem. One of them is bound to bring relief.
Yours in solidarity,
The Mothership Revelations
Your Peri-Cataclysmic Guide To
Relational Being and The Politics of Gesture
The Mothership will respond gaily to questions about how best to maneuver the most complicated contemporary problems of material interbeing, including: matters of the heart, aesthetic entanglements, power exchanges, genital and other symbology, basic etiquette, and an ever-expanding range of social bewilderments and psycho-spiritual dilemmas.
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