There are a lot of pages that list six things that writers should do to get published. But this is a page listing things that teen writers should do in addition to those. Most of these are things that I learned myself through trial and error, but hopefully you won’t have to go through that.
1. Will my age matter?
If you’re wondering if publishers will reject your book based on your age, well, the answer is no. I’ve only seen one publisher that specifically mentioned that it didn’t want authors under the age of eighteen to submit, and that was just one small publisher. There are hundreds who will still accept your work.
However, do not bother to mention your age in any of your query letters to publishers/agents. There’s no point in doing so. For one, they won’t care. Secondly, if you’re worried that people are going to discriminate against your book because you’re a teen, then why do you mention it? Also, never put things like ‘this is my first book’ or things that devalue your book like ‘I know it may not be perfect’.
2. Don’t Be Impatient
Sure, even adults can be impatient, but waiting is unbearably agonizing for a teen writer. I know how it feels. You want stuff to happen right now, but unfortunately the publishing industry is slower than the Internet Explorer browser.
And, if you’ve done the math, I’m guessing that you’ve realized that you’ll probably end up being published when you’re twenty or twenty-four. I know, that seems like forever at this point, but that’s just the way it is.
3. Take Everything You Read With a Grain of Salt
There’s lots of information out there on the web for writers. So much that most of it directly contradicts one another.
The most important thing to remember in this regard is that writing is an art. Every book is different, and the method you will want to choose to get it published will also be different. Never follow anything completely to the letter, always remember to experiment and add your own style to what you do.
4. Take Your Work Seriously
If you don’t take your own work seriously, how can you expect someone else to? What this means is if you want to be taken as a writer seriously, like an adult, then you have to do things professionally. That may seem a bit vague, and the best way to illustrate it would be with an example.
Write your query letters like a pro. Get people to proofread them. If you can tell a teen wrote them just by reading your letter, then it’s time to change your strategy. Also, like I’ve mentioned before, don’t mention your age. Ever. Until your publisher comes out with a contract, then it’s not a problem saying you’re underage. (And all it means is that your parents will have to sign, not you.)
Another thing: While it’s true that your work may not be as good as it should be, there’s no reason for you to ever mention that. If you think there’s a problem with your writing, fix it; don’t mention it to a publisher. Don’t be overly humble either. If you’ve worked your heart out on a book, proofread it, and you believe that it’s ready to be published; then go for it.
5. Do Things
What this includes is:
a. Writing every single day. This is important because you’re going to end up competing against people who are probably in their thirties and who have a lot more experience writing than you do. It doesn’t need to be strictly about your book, it can be anything. Maybe you can rewrite a passage from a book you like in your own words and see how your style comes out. Or you could keep a diary, or if you want others to read it, a blog.
b. Going out and doing things that aren’t related to writing. Another disadvantage we have due to our ages is, as some people would say it, ‘you haven’t had enough rich life experiences yet’.
The real question is ‘What are you going to write on?’ If all you do is write all day, where are you going to get your inspiration from? The key is to go out there and do things. Be part of a club, go camping, do chores, just don’t sit idle by your writing desk.
6. Don’t Give Up
This is probably the most important thing. I’m guessing that even if you did everything you could, no publisher is willing to take up your book.
But here are a few stats that I’m going to throw at you. Most people don’t get their first book published. Most people are over thirty when they finally do get published.
Now, if you’ve started writing a novel when you’re 14, even though it may not sell, you can always write another. And another after that. Think about how many books you could write by the time you’re twenty-four. (Add to this fact that writing is an art that can be learned. By constant practicing, you can learn how to write a great book and get it published.)
No matter how depressing things may seem at one point, remember that it isn’t the end. If you keep trying, you will end up getting somewhere someday. Maybe not now. But when you do get your lucky break (which will come eventually, trust me), be sure to take it all the way. You can always go back and publish any manuscripts you have that have never sold right now later on.
And, besides these six points, I’m going to add that you should probably check out these great sites for teen writers (and a few for writers in general):
1. Query Shark: A blog that's great if you want to know if your query letter is up to the standard or not. It's also great to read the posts and get to know what a good query letter should look like. (And, all of the query letters are critiqued by an agent, so I suppose you could say that you're getting very nice advice.)
2. Teen ink: If you're aiming to be a novelist, no, this site may not help you get your novel published, but for other articles and stories, it's a great site and I think every writer under twenty should check it out.
3. Fiction press: Some people may tell you to stay away from this site, but it isn't that bad. Basically, this is a site where anyone (I mean anyone, which is why there are a lot of bad stories floating around) can post their stories (original fiction only) and anyone (once again, anyone) can review it. You may not get too many reviews, but you can also apply for a beta reader, someone who will willingly read and advise you on your story. The only thing is that it takes no training to be anyone on fiction press, so do keep that in mind. Also, many of the readers won't want to run through an entire novel which is probably around 90k+ words in length.
4. Wattpad.com: You can connect with both writers and readers from all over the globe on this site. It's very neat and this is another site you should definitely check out.
5. Worthofpublishing.com: This link is pretty self-explanatory. You can get some very useful tips from other readers.