Last Friday, I posted Three Topics Writers Should Avoid on Social Networks. The response surprised me--it must have hit a nerve! Thank you to everyone who chimed in with an opinion.
After reading through the comments, I realized the topic wasn't quite finished. Katie Ganshert mentioned, "I think, if handled in the right way, numbers 1 and 2 could work."
Sarah Forgrave also made a good point. "I did a blog post after getting a rejection, but I waited about a month (after I'd processed it) and kept it anonymous and positive, focusing on how it represented a graduation of sorts for me and how it gave me feedback to make my story better. I actually sent the link to the rejector, and they had nice things to say about it."
Let's take another look at #1 and #2: posting that we've submitted or been rejected.
Posting on our blog: I think it is appropriate to blog about being out on submission or being rejected if it hasn't been dashed off as a hasty confessional. I appreciate reading about other writers' struggles, and I share my own too. But as writers intent on getting published, we need to remember how this is coming across not just to our readers but to any agent or editor who might stop by.
Posting on Facebook or Twitter: I do not think it's appropriate to confess on Facebook (unless it's a personal account) or Twitter that we're on submission or we've been rejected.
I do have reasons. It's tricky enough sending queries, why give any agent or editor a reason to question their decision? J. N. Duncan said it well. "You don't really want to be telling the world, and agents who might be looking, that your query has just suffered its 87th rejection."
But what if you aren't mentioning agent names or the number of rejections? Is it okay to post about it then? Let's look at a fictional scenario.
In 2008, aspiring author Susie joins FB and Twitter and sends out her first batch of queries. She never mentions particular agents or editors--she's following the rules--and we can assume her posts are padded with plenty of non-request/rejection related tweets. But if we tallied up only the tweets relating to requests/rejections, here is what the list would look like.
Posted to Facebook and Twitter:
03/14/08 "Just got my first rejection. Crying buckets."
04/05/08 "Another rejection. These stink."
05/08/08 "Someone wants my book!! Hallelujah!"
05/15/08 "Another request! Woo-hoo!"
06/29/08 "Rejected again. No biggie. Getting easier."
11/04/08 "Just hit send on 5 more queries. Crossing fingers!"
01/12/09 "2 requests for partials!!"
03/07/09 "Sent another round of queries."
08/14/09 "Another request!"
08/16/09 "Three rejections today. Drowning in chocolate."
01/05/10 "It should be illegal to reject someone the first week of the new year."
01/13/10 "Back to querying. Ten out today."
02/14/10 "Request for full!"
02/28/10 "Request for partial!"
04/27/10 "Just wasn't what they were looking for."
08/13/10 "Depressed, a rejection arrived in my in-box this morning."
09/23/10 "Querying again. Sent ten out this morning."
09/27/10 "Rejection. Rejection."
10/01/10 "Just got a request on a query I'd sent out two months ago!"
You can see where this is going. If you're a writer, you're reading through this and maybe thinking, "Oh, yeah. I get this. I can totally relate." You may even become good friends with Susie, because she's transparent and a little funny.
But what if you're one of the ten agents she queried on 01/13/10? What if in the query, Susie didn't mention it was a simultaneous submission? The agent just found out. How excited is Ms. Agent going to be to find this piece of information out on Twitter?
Let's go a step further--let's say a different agent, Mr. Agent had requested one of Susie's books in 2008, saw some talent, passed on the project, but decided to "follow" her on Twitter or Facebook? Mr. Agent knows Susie hasn't queried him since 2008, but sees Susie hasn't been shy sending queries to every other agent. If Mr. Agent gets a query in 2011, will he be more likely to want to work with Susie or dismiss her?
Or what if an agent who requested Susie's full in 2009 is still considering it? This agent can see Susie is getting rejected over and over. Is this going to make the agent more likely or less likely to offer representation?
Now let's assume an avid reader, John, reads these posts on Susie's social networks. Most non-writers have no idea how competitive the publishing industry is. They don't know most writers do not get published with their first book. They don't even know it's difficult to get an agent, or that if you're lucky enough to get one, you still might not get published for two years. What do you think John would think if he reads these posts? Boy, Susie must not be very good.
Writers who are trying to build a platform will include many different people on their social networks. Some will be agents, editors and other writers. Some will be published authors, random strangers, and family members. Maybe it's unfair that someone will think we aren't very good because we're being honest about our rejections, but that's the price of social networks--we're "friends" with people who really don't know anything about us except what we post.
Thanks for bearing with me as we took a more in-depth look at this topic. As before, this is my opinion. I appreciate you having your own opinion, even if it doesn't match mine.
Have a terrific weekend!