The Journey to Publication

Acceptance and Publication: A War of Attrition?

I’ve been out querying and feeling a bit down about my writing lately – one of the low points in the ride, perhaps – and my husband suggested that I had to consider the process towards publication like a war of attrition.

I got the feeling he meant I couldn’t simply give up, but I had to actually look up what he meant for a definition this morning. For those of you as “familiar” with this term as I was, here are some definitions:

war of attrition plural wars of attrition [countable]
a struggle in which you harm your opponent in a lot of small ways, so that they become gradually weaker (source: Longman online dictionary)
In game theory, the war of attrition is a model of aggression in which two contestants compete for a resource of value V by persisting while constantly accumulating costs over the time t that the contest lasts. The model was originally formulated by John Maynard Smith[1], a mixed evolutionary stable strategy (ESS) was determined by Bishop & Cannings[2]. Strategically, the game is an auction, in which the prize goes to the player with the highest bid, and each player pays the loser’s low bid (making it an all-pay sealed-bid second-price auction). (source: Wikipedia, along with a much longer and more detailed definition.)
The way he put it, basically you have to continue to query and submit until eventually, you win because the other “player” (in this case the agents and publishers) simply give in.
I’m not sure I agree – in fact, I’m pretty sure I don’t.
While I do believe it’s important that we continue to get our work out there, to never give up (especially on the days you really want to), I think instead of a war of any kind, it’s more like you’re continuing on a hunt for the right “match.” Hmm, instead of a war of attrition, maybe it’s a bit more like the children’s game, Snap – you know, the one where you have a whole bunch of cards facedown, and you turn up one and then go hunting for the matching card. You win the pair if you find the match. If you don’t, you turn them both back over and start again on your next turn.
I suppose my opposition to the progress towards publication being like a war of attrition, is that it assumes a winner and loser, one side eventually admitting defeat; a rejection isn’t a loss, but simply a lack of match.
So, what do you think?
Thanks for reading, and have a great day.