By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy
In every school visit I've done so far, at least one budding writer asks me about getting published. It made me realize that I've never really talked about how a young writer (teens) would go about getting published.
Same way the adult writers do it.
Yep, I'm serious. Publishing a book is about the book, not the age of the author. If you happen to have a professional skill level at age 15, you stand just as good a chance at getting published as anyone else. The only difference is that if you're under 18, you'll need a parent or guardian to sign the contract for legal reasons.
With all the information out there about writing, from books, to sites like this, to forums like Absolute Write, it's much easier for writers to develop their craft and submit their work than it was ten or fifteen years ago. While it's unusual for a writer to reach that level in their teens (30s and 40s is more common), it can and does happen.
Want examples? Try these...
The most famous is SE Hinton, who wrote The Outsiders. She was 16 when she published that.
Den of Shadows Series by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes. 13 when she wrote it. There's a great Q&A on her site.
And of course there's Christopher Paolini and his Eragon series. He became a bestselling author at the age of 19.
Break by Hannah Moskowitz, 17 when she wrote it.
Kody Keplinger sold her YA novel, The Duff, at 17.
There are others of course, and a little time spent searching will bring up more for those curious. But if you're a teen writer hoping to get published -- go for it.
(you knew there had to be a "but" didn't you?)
It's good to know going in that publishing is a business, and a rough one at that. No one is going to go easy on you or give you a break just because you're a teen. They'll expect you to handle yourself like an adult, revise and edit your work same as any other author, and they'll treat you same as any other author. They won't sugar-coat comments to spare your feelings.
And most writers suffer through a ton of rejection letters before they write the right book and get an agent or sell their novel. Rejection after rejection can be disheartening. It can feel personal, even though it's not. Even adults get frustrated and wonder if they have what it takes or if they should just quit. Be prepared to be stomped on.
If you're scared about showing your work to friends or even a critique group, or any negative comments are taken hard and upset you, if revising at all is a terrifying thought, odds are you're not ready for publication yet, even if your work is. It can take time to develop the objectivity needed to be a pro author, same as it takes time to develop writing skill. That doesn't mean you won't get there, just that you might take a little longer. Publishing is great, but it can be very stressful and a lot of pressure falls on your shoulders. If you're not sure you're ready, don't rush it. You have plenty of time.
But if you are ready...
There's nothing keeping you from trying.
If you're not sure where you fall?
You can test it a few times, maybe try it with short stories and see how it feels. Try markets where the pressure is less and selling a story doesn't immediately heap everything that selling a novel does onto your shoulders.
And to help there, here are three posts that deal specifically with what to do after you have a novel polished and ready to submit, and a link to a great resource for short story writers.
You've Written a Novel, Now What? Going from first draft to first submission.
How to Write a Query Letter.
How to Find an Agent
Duotrope Digest. Database of publications and info on what they accept and how to submit to them.
And because I'm on a theme here, tomorrow let's talk about what you can do as a budding writer to start developing your craft.