By now, most of us (hopefully) realize that what we see on social media is, if not an outright lie, at least an idealized version of reality. Instagram photos are staged and that high school friend who posts photos of her ridiculously organized family home has days where she feels utterly frazzled. She just doesn't share those with the rest of the world. As you scroll through your social media feed feeling envious of the folks you follow, know that what you are seeing is only part of the story.
This is true when it comes to authors as well. Authors and other creators use social media to spread the word about new releases and share their excitement about accolades or forthcoming works. So, if you are someone who follows authors you admire on social media platforms, you'll likely hear about when they have a new book coming out or when they've signed a new publishing contract.
What you're less likely to hear about are when a book they have written gets rejected or when a deal they're working on falls through. Some authors are very upfront about all the rejections they received before they sold their first book but don't usually post about the rejections they've received after selling their first book, because publishing a book doesn't meant that you will nevermore receive a rejection letter.
I'm a firm believer in focusing on positive things and not dwelling on negativity. (In fact, my personal view of rejection letters is you should destroy every last one of them. It's not healthy to save those things!) Alas, the reason you don't hear about the challenges authors are facing in their social media feeds isn't always because they believe in only focusing on positive things.
It's important to remember that our social media profiles are public things. As authors that means not only does your mom, that guy that you worked with once eight years ago and your fans read what you post, but so do editors and other publishing industry professionals.
That means if you want to sell another book, you probably shouldn't publicly rant about everything you hate about your publisher. It also means that you probably don't want to talk about how three editors have turned down your latest manuscript, as it might not inspire the editor who is currently reading it to snatch it up.
After my third book, Shallow Pond, was published by Flux, I had a lot of well-meaning friends and family ask me publicly on Facebook when my next book was coming out or what my next book was about. At this time, the most recent book I had written had been turned down by Flux and was out on submission, but I there was no way I could explain this without letting potential publishers know that the book I had submitted to them had already been rejected by my previous publisher.
I'm divulging these secrets to you, not because I want to fill you with thoughts of doom and gloom about how difficult it is to be a successful author, but because I think it's helpful to keep in mind as you are reading with envy about the latest publishing deal that another author has just received, the halcyon view of the author life that you see depicted on social media is only part of the story. Publishing, like any business, has its ups and downs. If you feel like you are alone in your struggles to make it as an author, rest assured in knowing that a lot of other authors are in the exact same boat despite what their Twitter feed might say.
That's why it's a good idea to make some author friends who you can connect with off of social media. Whether you're dishing to each other in an ongoing email conversation or meet up in person to vent about the crazy world of publishing, it might help you to step away from the distorted reality of social media, now and then. Also, destroy those rejection letters--every last one of them!
Alissa Grosso is the author of six published books for teens and adults and a whole lot more books that never actually saw the publishing light of day, but you don't know anything about those books because she doesn't talk about them on social media. If you would like to know more about her and the books she had published you can visit her website at alissagrosso.com.