Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Teenage or Child Writers

I’ve talked before about how unimportant age should be when querying agents and how I feel there’s no need ever to tell an agent how old you are because, whether young or old, ageism does exist and I see no need to make things harder than they already are.

However, I recently received a question from a teenage writer asking if I have any advice for teenagers hoping to break into publishing and compete against adult writers, and it got me thinking on a number of conversations I’ve had about children or teens who’ve written great books and now are seeking publication. My first bit of advice for any teen or child wishing to get published or any parent who is thinking their child has a brilliant book that should be published is to really understand the business first. I suppose in reality it’s not much different than child stars or child talent competitions, but the truth is that you are entering the adult world and as we all know, publishing is not necessarily a kind business. Sure, you might be able to stomach the rejections and deal with the difficulties of agents, but if your book is picked up are you ready to face reviewers and whatever it is they have to say, sales and/or the lack thereof? Are you willing to accept that getting published is easy compared to maintaining a career, and are you really ready to start a career at the age of 10, 12, 15, or even 17? Are you ready to deal with adults who will edit and revise your book, ask you questions about sales and marketing and generally be treating you like an adult author.

The teen who asked the question wanted to know if I could give any advice on how to compete against adult writers, and I think that whether you’re a teen or an adult the answer is always going to be the same. As a writer, as an author seeking publication, you’re going to be required to write an amazing book, you’re going to need to understand, at least on some level, the mechanics of writing, you’re going to need to do some publicity and marketing and you’re going to need to be working on your next book. No matter what, though, the most important thing is that your book is amazing and that your next book is even better.



Kristan said...

As a former teen-who-thought-I-could-be-published, I'm curious: How many books written by kids/teens have you read that you really think ought to be on bookshelves?

I guess I'm a little cynical, especially with my hindsight, but I haven't read anything by people that young that I feel can truly compete. (But I'm not an agent or editor.) I do, however, think many of those kids probably grow into the adults that get published. Hopefully myself included!

Mark Terry said...

My son is always writing stories and novellas and one in particular he was thinking should be submitted somewhere. He's got a good voice but he's a long way from being publishable. I didn't tell him that, exactly, but I went over and copyedited it, and in the face of all that red ink he decided he didn't want to submit it, which I thought was a good idea. At the age of 15 he's doing all the right things--he's reading tons of books and he's writing lots and lots. No need to face the grind of rejection or anything else yet.

Anonymous said...

"...The teen who asked the question wanted to know if I could give any advice on how to compete against adult writers..."

See, this question is so misguided that THAT is the real problem. It's not about "competing" with adults anymore than it is for adult writers to compete against other adults.

Your real competition (your real obstacle) is yourself. It has nothing to do with how old you are.

-- Can you get a first draft done?

-- Revise it a hundred times, and then revise it a hundred more?

-- Get shot down by every "great" agent who you specifically targeted, researched, and talored your query to only to be given a form reject?

-- Deal with an agent that often doesn't communicate how you'd like, where instead you are catering to their schedule?

-- Do rewrites for the agent, at their insistance, and then NOT blame the agent when editors cite the rewritten part as troubling/odd/needing to be deleted?

-- Spend a year or so writing another book while your current book is being shot down time and time again at acquisition meetings by editors that love it, say its some of the best writing they've ever seen, but just feel its too "quiet" for their list?

-- Learn how to decipher and complete an Editorial Letter from an editor if it does get accepted?

-- Rearrange your entire schedule in order to work on your editorial rewrites only to have the editor "forget" to send them on time, making your supposed eight week turnaround time cut by three weeks, so you have to work twice as fast?

-- Be polite to everyone in a business where people are often not polite to you?

-- Be willing to write a second and third and tenth book if the first doesn't sell?

-- Fortify yourself against the sometimes unbearable nosy-ness of relatives who don't understand why it takes so long to get an agent/get publsihed?

-- See "lesser" books, that get ho-hum or bad reviews spike to the top of bestseller list because of huge publicity marketing budgets, while your little gem gets virutally no marketing money and therefore doesn't even earn out its advance?

Writing isn't about "competition." It's mostly about trying to fortify yourself enough so the really difficult parts of this business don't turn you bitter while also leaving yourself open enough to be able to work on that next project.

Anonymous said...

Ah! So many typos in that, sorry. :)

Aimlesswriter said...

Good advice for all ages.
I wonder how many teens actually have time for all the edits and rewrites and deadlines.

Kimber Li said...

I wrote my first book at age four and started my first novel at eleven, so I know it can start young!

One of my daughters saw Mom writing stories and started writing her own. However, I've explained to her that having a great story in one's head is only the beginning. There's so much to learn before that story can be crafted into something other people will understand and enjoy.

The good news is there are plenty of resources for young writers to learn. If their schools are lousy and homeschooling (as we do) is not possible, their education can be supplimented. I recommend the book THE WELL-TRAINED MIND.

Also, NaNo has a special program just for young people. Do a Google. Can't remember the addy.

If you're an adult whose schools stunk and you can't go to college at this point in your life, check out the book THE WELL-EDUCATED MIND.

It's true that good readers make good writers. Everything anyone needs to learn and grow as writers can be found for free at your local public library and on the Internet. You just have to go after it.

Anonymous said...

Never thought of this. But yeah, much like a child actor. Interesting post.

Anonymous said...

As one of those former kids-who-wrote-constantly, I would say you need to start small. Write for your school paper. Or literary magazine. Go to writing camp if you can manage it (for example, the state of Virginia has a Governor's School every summer for rising seniors in high school - I did the creative writing program there and won't ever forget the various lessons I learned).

Yeah, that sort of stuff isn't going to get you "big name" recognition, but what it WILL do is help you understand the business. Deadlines. Editors. Critics. Generally cranky people. You'll start to network, without realizing it.

WHILE you're doing that, keep working on your craft, editing your first novel, etc., etc. And when you decide that you're okay with people calling your work frothy trash (or whatever other creative insults they come up with) and editing it to pieces, and all that other stuff that goes with actually trying to be big-time published with a career, THEN you're ready to go for it.

Unknown said...

Good advice for any age! I sent it to my friend's 13 year old I-want-to-write daughter. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Sorry but I think kids should LIVE life and enjoy their childhood and teens before worrying about publication...they have the rest of their lives to be an adult. Why not write for the school paper instead? Stage parents, perhaps?

KathyF said...

Some teens and children do want to write and some do want to publish. Probably nothing to do with stage parents at all. (Performing and writing don't have quite the same stardom allure.)

I started making up my stories when I was young. And I started trying to write novels around age 20 or so.

But I stopped - because I realized that I didn't have enough real life experience to write the kind of novels that I just had to write. No one else told me that. And no one else read my writing.

I went out and got experience and just worked on my stories sometimes. Unfortunately, I got into an all consuming career, and only now - many years after I had enough real life experience to start writing my novels and after I left that career - am I finally starting to write them.

I don't think it's age that matters so much. Maturity, a good story, writing ability, and the type of story - those things matter. Of course, for anyone at any age to make it, they need to be able to handle the things mentioned in the article and by some of the other comments.

Anonymous said...

Teens and children should be studying for tests and doing homework so they can get into a good college. Agents who are not making enough sales for the adults they represent don't need to exploit underage children. What a waste of time.

Dara said...

I was also a pre-teen who wrote a novel and thought I could submit it to be published. Of course, even at 12 I realized it needed a LOT of work before even considering letting others read it (I don't think anyone has to this day).

It still sits in a folder somewhere, the only edits on it made during boring classes in junior high :P

I don't think it's impossible though for a teen writer to get published and be a success. I'm glad it work for me simply because I don't think I would have been ready for the "adult" world at 13/14 years old. I was fragile and struggled with self esteem (like pretty much everyone at that age) and I probably would've have taken a critical review way too personally. I know I wouldn't have been strong or mature enough at that age to take it.

I think many teens would be the same way, especially younger ones (say 13-15 range). Of course there's always the exception. If a teenager thinks that they are ready for the world of publishing and for all that's involved, then I would be the first one to encourage them to go for it.

Of course, I'm still rather young myself, being only in my early-mid twenties, and I have a lot to learn about the whole "adult" world of publication too :P

Sarah J. MacManus said...

As someone who was pushed a little too hard at a young age to write professionally, I have to say it's a bad idea. I stopped writing and submitting work regularly at 20 and didn't write fiction seriously again until I was over forty. I caution ANYONE against hand-holding your child into publication. If it's brilliant, it'll stand the test of time and your child can learn the ropes and submit the work themself when they're 18/19. But don't do it when they're 14, 15 or 16, unless they are submitting it themselves, completely on their own initiative. They should even be paying for their own paper and stamps with their babysitting money, if they want it that badly. Don't 'edit' them, don't find them an agent, just DON'T. I got burnt out quick and when I hit the rebellious stage, guess what I rebelled against?

Just don't do it.

Dara said...

Ok, massive typos in my comment--that's what I get for not previewing it thoroughly. It should say:

"I'm glad it didn't work for me simply because I don't think I would have been ready for the "adult" world at 13/14 years old.":P

Caroline said...

Great post! Unlike most of the others here, I'm not 'former.' I'm 14. I go to a regular school, I read about 8 agent/writing blogs regularly, and I frequent a healthy mixture of general and teen writing critique sites. My goal is to learn as much as I can while I develop my first book. My parents never considered writing and have no idea where I got it from, though I have a non-blood-related aunt who's a published poet.

I don't write because I want to have an early career or because I feel pressured to get published early and be a super successful prodigy. I write because I love it and I can't live without it. Well, that's my two cents. :)

Anonymous said...

Sure, writing is great and a healthy outlet for kids--whether it's a diary or the school paper or just for fun. But kids and teens should concentrate on getting a college education and life experience BEFORE they consider getting published.

Too much pressure and heartbreak--and suddenly your childhood is gone. I agree with Fawn: What's the rush?

tilt190 said...

Like Caroline, I'm not a former-teen-writer: I just turned 14 yesterday (4/28!). I've read the comments of those who think teens couldn't stomach rejections at 13 or 14.
I started querying at 11.
It got me a few full and partial requests, mostly from agents who probably felt sorry for my wimpy 30k "novel". In the end, I decided to trash the MS and start completely over.
But it was a learning experience. I'm doing so much more work on my second MS: on my voice, my plot structure, my pacing, my tone. And the thick skin I grew from the first time 'round helped me in the long run. I learned how to take criticism. I knew how to remake a story. Most importantly, I discovered what passion really is.
And the people in my crit group still can't believe I'm 14.

Elissa M said...

S. E. Hinton anyone?

Well written, publishable books by teen writers are definitely the exception, but that doesn't mean they don't happen.

As an artist, musician, and writer, I think it would be terribly wrong to tell young people to not pursue their dreams. It takes time to learn to write well, just as it takes time to learn an instrument. Sure, there are prodigies, but most of us don't fit that definition.

Young people are no more fragile than us older folks. Rejection hurts no matter what your age.

I do agree with the anonymous poster who said writing isn't about competition. It's about communicating a story. Most novelists are lucky to finish one publishable novel per year. Most readers go through dozens in a year. It's only a competition if you make it one.

Anonymous said...

I'm a teen writer. I've been writing since I was little, but I didn't get serious until I was 12(although it was horrible back then). I'm glad I started then, because I feel the time has given me a head start - instead of being a crappy writer if I started as an adult, I'll have something not to bad as an adult.

I don't plan on publishing until I'm out of my teens.

Sarah J. MacManus said...

I need to clarify that what I meant is if a teen is pushing themselves to write, to get published, that's one thing. If they have the gumption to do so, by all means, they should.

But parents/teachers/mentors should not push teenagers to write for publication. I don't care how good they are. Someone thought it was a good idea to be my agent when I was 14 and the pressure was enormous. I resisted it and began handling my own work my own way when I was 17. But I was so burnt out I gave up at 20 and did something else with my life for many years, probably more than I should have. It's just a bad idea to push this.

If they want it bad enough, they'll find a way. And should. It's part of the growth process.

And they shouldn't worry about "competing". Either their work is good enough to stand without comparison, or not. They don't get extra points for being young or cute, nor should they be discriminated against. It's about the writing.

Rachael said...

I'm a teen writer as well and trying to get published. I'm on my 14th rejection on my first novel. With two more novels in editing and a fourth in writing. I get good grades in school and write in my spare time. Yes, school and homework takes up a lot of time. But I think I'd go mad if it wasn't for my writing. It's my stress relief, the thing I look forward to during a long day at school.

I've been writing since I could hold a pencil. The stories from those days were the kind that I plan to burn if I ever find them again. I wrote the beginnings to countless novels since then, but most of them never got past chapter 2 or 3. If you've finished a novel, you can imagine how happy I was when my first was completed after only two months at the age of 15.

I've done all my homework. I know how to write a query letter and send them, I know which agents I'm going to query and how to do so, and I don't query agents that wouldn't be suited to my project (non-fiction agents for a YA fantasy project for example). My parents are not involved in any way. If I'm going to be published, it'll be 100% my own sweat, blood, and tears. And that's how it should be.

Race said...

There are some harsh comments about teen writers here, most of which have no foundation at all. As a teen, with friends and acquaintances that are also teens (and a few published), I can tell you that we can handle the business as well as an adult. We can write, revise, query, deal with rejection, work with agents, revise some more, deal with rejection...
We can get our education and work towards a career, other than the career of writing that we hope for, while writing, revising, querying...
We can. And we do. With success. The only problem I see is that a great many people assume we can't. And that is why it is harder for us to "compete."

Becky said...

I have to agree with horserider: I'm 17, and have been working on a novel for the past couple of years. I keep on top of my homework, am a grade A student and, yeah, I get stressed, but my writing doesn't add to that. Writing is my relaxation - some of my friends watch TV, some do sport, I write. It;s what I love doing.

I can see the problem if parents are pushing their children into writing and trying to get published, but then I can see the problem with pushy parents in any career path. What I don't see a problem with is teens trying to get published, if that's what they want - why not give it a go?

I disagree that teens aren't ready for the 'adult world': I know plenty of teens who are more mature, and definitely cope better in the supposed 'adult world' than some twenty, thirty and forty year olds I know. Writing isn't about age, and I feel some of the comments on here are unduly harsh.

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

I laugh at all these people saying that teens shouldn't be writing but instead be studying and getting into colleges. Last I checked that wasn't living, just more adults thinking they know best when in reality, they're utterly clueless.

Listen up. Not every teen wants to go to Harvard or Yale. I'm perfectly content at the local community college earning an AA in Computer Graphics, something I will never use for anything beyond a rank-up when I enter the military this year. Writing will be my life while I'm in the service, not wasting the best years of my life locked in college.

Seriously, what's so worth it at college? Friends? Only the skilled graphic designers network, people with my level get left behind. Girls? Asexual, sorry. A career? I'm going into the military with an ASVAB score of 95, guaranteeing me the pick of any job they've got. And if I'm not satisfied with it, I can crosstrain to a different one. How's THAT for career flexibility?

In short, do not try to stop teen writers from doing what they do so they can live up to your idealized life choices. You will not succeed and will only breed hatred at what is perceived to be (and correctly!) a threat to their dreams. Go waste your breath on the frat houses at those "great" colleges.

Poppy said...

I am fourteen years old, and I've been writing for as long as I can remember, literally. I recently finished the first draft of a novel. I am aware that it will need many many revisions, I know about query letters, I know not to use to many adverbs, not to bug agents (:D). I know more about the business than anyone I know in real life. Knowing about the road to publication is not dependant on age, it's dependant on how much research you've done and how committed you are.

As to dealing with rejection... Just because I'm a few years younger doesn't mean I'm a weak, pathetic crybaby. I /know/ I'll be rejected many times when I eventually start querying, and I can deal with that. The thickness of your skin isn't dependant on age, it's dependant on your temperament, your upbringing and your life experiences.

Sure, it's hard juggling school and extra-curricular activities with writing, but I manage. Writing is my hobby. Others zap aliens on their playstations or watch mindless TV, I just choose to do something more constructive with my free time. Anyway, adults have jobs and mortgages and families and cleaning and cooking. Being busy isn't exclusive to teenagers.

I'm just goiong to reply specifically to some of the posts here, because I feel that some of them are unfair...

"Sorry but I think kids should LIVE life and enjoy their childhood and teens before worrying about publication...they have the rest of their lives to be an adult. Stage parents, perhaps?"

Uh, for me, writing is part of my life. One of the most fun parts. Just because I write doesn't mean I'm not living life. The stage parents thing is totally not true in my case, and also in most teenage writers. My parents vaguely know I write and think it's better than going out and getting drunk and doing drugs, but they aren't particularly interested. My parents have never read any of my stuff, never talked to me about writing and know nothing about publication. That's how I like it. Writing is /my/ thing, something I can do independantly. It's a way to forge my own identity, and prove that I am mature and responsible despite my age.

"Teens and children should be studying for tests and doing homework so they can get into a good college... exploit underage children."

Uhm, we /are/ studying for tests and doing homework. Do you expect us to do that every minute of every day? I'm a straight A student and expect to get into the top university in Britain, Oxford. And we're not being exploited. We /choose/ to write, we /enjoy/ it.

Sorry for the rant, but I have srong opinions on this subject. I just think that teens and adults should be considered on a totally equal footing. A teen wouldn't tell an adult to stop writing and live their life, so how come adults can get away with telling this to teens? We still have brains, intelligence, maturity, the ability to think for ourselves. At least some do. Just those teens who write are generally the ones who could cope with the demands of the adult world.

Anonymous said...

Concerning the idea that teens should be thinking about their college education rather than writing... I am nineteen and I have been a freelance writer for a newspaper (not my school newspaper, a county newspaper) since I was 17. Writing is what ALLOWS me to have a college education, and if I do end up getting published those royalties will go straight to student loans. Yes, the work-load can be tough, but I'm a scholarship student and so far my English teachers haven't complained that I write novels in my spare time.

Someone mentioned that rejection hurts at any age. This is true, and honestly, after following the recent "agentfail" on Twitter, I personally think that I have handled rejections better than some older writers. (Key word: SOME.)

What I don't understand is why it is considered wrong if a young writer wants to be published. Yes, I would be very upset if parents were pushing their children to be published out of some desire to raise a prodigy...but if the teen is trying to do it on their own, why try to stop them? Sure, they'll get rejections. They might not make it. But they'll have a wealth of experience that most kids their age won't acquire until they're much older - how to accept criticism gracefully. How to deal with disappointment. How to communicate professionally. These are life skills that are going to be necessary in the world - AND in college. Why do you want to rob them of that?

Anonymous said...

Any HR manager can tell you it is simple to look people up on and find out how old they are. If you are looking to hire someone you always do that so no one who is too old is ever called in for an interview. Years ago, before the internet, managers used to call people who are too old and have to find some excuse to get rid of them when they walked into the office. Now they don't call them in the first place.

There are a lot of women in the Tri-State area named Jessica Faust (I checked) so I don't know your exact age. But I know the ballpark. And if I were considering you for representation I would be sure to get your middle initial. Then the truth would be out.

As a now deceased leader once said: "Ask not what your employee can do for you. Ask rather how old he is. That's the important thing."

Words to live by.

Unknown said...
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Rachael said...

How old you are means absolutely nothing. I'm 15 years old. Online I've been mistaken as an older married lady. I know teenagers that are more mature than some adults and some adults that need a reality check. Honestly, what does it matter if your 15 or 150?

Trust me, there are FAR worse things teen writers could be doing with their time than writing, editing, querying, and attempting to further what could be their future career. I know. I see it every single day.

Rachael said...

P.S. I looked myself up on intelius. I'm not on there.

As a now deceased leader once said: "Ask not what your employee can do for you. Ask rather how old he is. That's the important thing."

Who said that?

Megan said...

Jessica, I think your post is right on, but I want to respond to some of these comments. I am a teen writer. I wrote my first novel in fourth grade. I got my agent at 16 (two well-regarded agents actually offered to represent me). In between, I faced rejection, tough criticism from beta readers, self-doubt, late nights wondering how to fix a scene that just wasn’t working – in short, all the challenges that confront any aspiring writer. But you know what? Those challenges didn’t crush my spirit or make me want to give up writing forever. Instead, they made me tougher, taught me to see criticism as helpful advice to improve my writing (something that is very useful now that I am working on revisions with my agent!), vastly improved my time-management skills, and helped strengthen my prose and storytelling ability. The things I have learned, the experiences I’ve gone through, and the people I have met have all been extremely rewarding.

My advice to young writers (for what it’s worth) is to write because you love to write, and pursue publication when you are ready – don't let others push you onto that path or do it just because you think it would be cool to be published before your twenties. If someone doubts you because of your age, prove them wrong – show them that you can write, revise, and take criticism and rejection like a professional, because that is the standard you will be held to. Never let anyone stop you or discourage you for something superficial like your age/gender/race/whatever.

To the adults, all I ask is that you judge us solely by our work and give us the opportunity to show you that we can be valuable contributors to the world of readers and writers. Don’t dismiss us because we should be “studying for tests and doing homework” instead of writing (isn’t that like saying you should be working instead of writing?) – instead, guide us, help us, teach us, or just work with us like you would with any other writer. Thanks.

The Caffeinated Vampire said...

I am a teen writer, and I really don't like the harsh outlook some people have on us. At sixteen, I have had poems and a novella published, and I submit to ezines. Writing is what I love and it is what I want to do when I leave school. For now, I am a good student. I focus on my schoolwork and write only when I have spare time or need to relax.

Of course, I write primarily for adults, so I guess that means I'm a little more mature. I can handle the business side perfectly well, and I love getting constructive criticism from readers. How else will I improve?

At fourteen I entered the prologue of a novel to a national competition here in Australia. I placed fifteenth overall - against adults. I had had to get a reference from teachers just so I could enter. The judges gave me scores of 112/116 and 108/116. Apparently, they liked it, even though I have since moved on from that novel.

I will go to university. I want to get a PhD in English. I'm going to do that, and I'm going to keep writing. Writing is my passion. If I can do it full-time, I will be very happy.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I think teens/kids should just enjoy school and friends instead of trying to get published. You have your whole life to get a published book out, why pressure yourself to become a published author by age 18?

I think they do it because they want to become famous as soon as possible, or think they'll get fame. And that isn't the point of creative writing, or at least shouldn't be. I still encourage teens to write, but they should write for themselves and really develop/experiment at what and what not they're good at. And when they finally feel comfortable with their writing, years down the road, then they can attempt publication.

Weronika Janczuk said...

I recently turned seventeen and have completed seven manuscripts, each averaging 80k words, and I am currently working on one I hope to query for this summer.

I agree, Jessica, with everything you've mentioned--I used to think that age mattered, but I've learned it doesn't. It is ALL about the story and the writing.

I see people posting about being "ready" for the market and the business, but I think that's just a quick way to crush the dreams of many young writers, maybe a handful of which will /ever/ get published.

Most of these young writers have found their passion now and they're lucky to have done so. It's unfair for adults to discourage the learning process...especially if we enjoy it.

Thanks for the insightful post!

Poppy said...

I want to reply to Anonymous...

"Personally, I think teens/kids should just enjoy school and friends instead of trying to get published. You have your whole life to get a published book out, why pressure yourself to become a published author by age 18?

I think they do it because they want to become famous as soon as possible, or think they'll get fame. And that isn't the point of creative writing, or at least shouldn't be."

I would just like to point out that this is a complete generalisation. I'm sure many teens write because they want to become famous, just as many adults write because they want to become famous.

But, just like many adults write because they love writing, many teens write because they love writing.

Irregardless of age, there will always be some who write for pleasure, some who write for fame and some who write for both. Suggesting that teenagers all write for fame is a gross and unfair generalisation. Motivations for writing depend on people and their personalities, not the number of years they have been alive.

Kero said...

Thanks for this post, it was very encouraging.

I strongly disagree with the majority of the comments posted here. I'm not sure why people seem to think that all teenagers are naive and 'in it for the money' - there are those out there who do know how to research, do know how to handle rejections from agents, do know how to juggle writing with exams, school and their social lives.

It really isn't hard. College from 7am to 5pm and writing from any time between 6pm and 2am. Squish your social life in there somewhere (weekends are good) and revise for the odd hour a week. See? Simple.

I finished the first draft of my novel (around 70,000 words) in five months - and that is with college and my job included. I didn't lock myself away in my room either; I see my friends plenty and I am enjoying my 'teen years'.

I'm not writing for fame or for money. I write because I enjoy it. I would love to see my novel on the shelf of a bookstore - purely for satisfaction. So I can say that I managed to accomplish something that I've always wanted to do; stuck with it 'til the end - I know too many adults who say "I wish I'd done...".

Life's too short! Live for the present - do what you enjoy. If what you enjoy is writing, then go for it. I don't see how age should affect that.

Anonymous said...

Now see, I'm 15, have written my first fantasy novel (Over 55,000 words) and am currently working on the second instalment of my trilogy. I've sent queries to several agents in an attempt to get my feet wet in the world of publishing. Needless to say, I still have a long way to go and I can personally tell you that rejection stinks worse than forgotten gym-socks in a cramped locker over summer but it's part of life. I've been in-love with words since before I can remember and that's why I write, not because I want to be a famous author or because I want to have money because more than likely, that will never happen because it has happened to very few. I write because I want to give someone a love of reading like so many amazing authors have done for me.
My dad has always been an avid reader and maybe that's where I get it from but he and my mom never pushed me into writing. Nor have they ever researched agents or publishers or writing camps. I've been told since I was ten that if I wanted to be a published author, I'm going to have to be the one to do the work. I'm am so grateful they did this because if they hadn't, I don't think my love of writing would have grown as much as it has. If I didn't love writing, I wouldn't have writen my book and become so in-tune with my wonderful characters and they're world, I wouldn't have been able to stomache the rejections knowing that my time will come one day as long as I never give up on my dream. I wouldn't have won two national writing contests that finally confirmed to me the belief that I can write and I would be persuing a career that wouldn't be anywhere near as fufilling and fun as this one.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ms. Faust!

Is there anything not listed on your website that I should know before querying you?

Mackenzie said...

I, as most teenagers, aspire to be great. Whether that greatness is achieved via athletics, academics or popularity it is greatness none the less. Greatness can either be recognition by many or recognition by few.
Other people have posted that publishing is bad for teenagers to that we should focus on academics and live our life. If teenagers focus solely on academics, then where is the joy in their life? What if living our life is writing and publishing a book?
No matter what you do, enjoy it. If your joy is writing, as is mine, then do it. And, if lucky enough to be published, take the plunge and take on the experience. It is your life to live and you only have one to do so. Enjoy it while you can.

Elayna said...

I came across this blog entry while doing research from myself on publishing for teenagers. Unlike some other people who commented before me, I am a 16 year old writer who writes because I love to write! I've dreamed of publishing a book since I was 11 years old, and I have been working on my current "novel" since I was 13. I have edited it already four times (going on my fifth and sixth time). I don't want to publish for fame or money, just so I can share my words to the world. If professional publishing doesn't work out, I might look towards different options (self-publishing or online publishing). I believe I can face the criticisms and the turn downs of work...and hopefully I'll reach those stages.

This blog was very helpful for me. Even if I don't publish this year, or next year...I just hope the stories I want to tell will be told.

Anonymous said...

Haha you adults are SO silly. I'm a teen.So writing's tough? You think we don't know that? We're the ones writing our books. I'm going to get published. To all you other teens writing out there don't let the eighteen and overs shoot you down. Keep writing and let's worry about a friendly competition amongst ourselves, seeing as the "adults" are too scared to see us as an active writing force.
- Fuimus semper, semper erimus, stabimus semper.

Brooke Taylor said...

I have known for a long time I wanted to be an author, and I've written several middle grade novels. Now, I am researching agents and getting serious about publishing. For those teens who are willing (like me) to face rejections and the tough publishing world to achieve a dream should know there's a lot of contests and conferences out there that can really get your foot in the door. This article really made my day!!

Anonymous said...

I get, obviously, that the publishing buissness is TOUGH. My current novels and novella are not publish ready, but I'm working on my second or third draft of one of them and it's on it's way. I'm well aqquainted with writing and reading, and have a great amount of budding talent. I live with a father who writes and directs movies, and the difficulty of being turned down time and time again is not unbeknownst to me. I've always thought self publishing wouldn't be a bad idea, but publicity is a problem. I'm not all too interested in the money earning side of it yet, but I feel like writing is what I LIVE for. It doesn't seem fair that I should have to wait, when, and I know this may sound incredibly arrogant, I'm probably as good as quite a few proffesinal authors. Like I said, I realise my work's not publish ready, there's always room for improvement, but I'm getting there. It's on it's way.
To those of you who said Kids my age should be concentrating on schoolwork, I think that's completely un-fair! I agree, grades matter, but if writing is your passion, what you lie for, you should be able to do it alongside school. My school's rubbish in the sense that it offers little to no writing opportunities. It's not greatly encouraged. Writing is about thoughts and stories, and when there are such great thoughts, they should be shared, whatever the age of the author!
Your gender shouldn't prevent you from living your dream, nor should your age.