making books The outside world: internet people publishing
by Harry Connolly
Last night on Twitter it came out that an agent was attacked outside her house just after she’d gotten into her car.
After being convinced to call the police, they wanted to look at the emails she’d gotten recently. She was sure there was nothing to it. All she had were the usual responses to rejection every agent gets from writers: “The normal I hate you and I want you to die and I’ll kill you”.
The cops were not so casual about it. They identified one guy, went to the address he put on his query, then busted him.
But here’s the thing: how did we get to the point where an influx of hatred, threats, and vicious remarks are an acceptable thing? I realize people have been turning a blind eye to the horrifying shit women bloggers get, but agents have been receiving the same treatment for years to the point where it’s seen as the normal course of business.
Here’s a tip: If you’re so outraged at receiving a rejection that you have to send a hateful response, self-publish. Seriously, if you’re moved to respond in a nasty way, you aren’t ready for that end of the business. Just go ahead and publish your work yourself.
Because every nasty response, every threat that you didn’t really mean, every expression of contempt, is just cover for threats that come from the crazies who really will do violence. It normalizes the awful behavior to the point that recipients can’t tell when the threats are genuine.
I suggest there be some sort of public display of these hate messages, along with identifying information: name, city, email address. Your query would be confidential. Your response to a rejection would not.
I don’t know if that would work, but I wish there was something we could to.