1. Tobinobin
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    Tobinobin Member

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    Is it hard for a teenager to publish?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Tobinobin, Jun 14, 2009.

    I'm just wondering about this. I'm not thinking of publishing any time soon, but I'm curious - does the fact that the short story/novel is written by a teenager for teenagers attract publishers?

    Is it hard to get work published if you are a teenager?
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I know that when you send a short story to a magazine, you don't disclose your age. It's only after you get accepted that you might need to give your age, especially if you're under 18.

    As for novels, I imagine it's harder to get published at a young age, mainly due to lack of experience. Also, the only types of books I've seen by teen writers are fantasy novels, so I'm thinking a publisher is not going to take their chances on an unknown teen writer unless the book he/she wrote is highly marketable.
     
  3. Maroon
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    Maroon Active Member

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    Hey.

    Whilst it's definitely true that age brings experience, and experience often leads to a more finely honed writing style, it's still worth mentioning that it's hard for anyone to get published.

    I'm not saying 'it's too hard, don't bother'. I'm saying - if your writing is exceptional, it will get noticed. Age is just a side factor.
     
  4. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    A quality story is paramount, and in that age doesn't matter.

    Yes, there are other factors, but the only one tied to this post appears to be of the writer has a platform of some sort and that could a part in finding a publisher. A teen writing for teens isn't that a strong of platform in my opinion. If nothing else, with a major publisher, from acceptance to actually hitting the shelves could be up to two years. And that doesn't count the time it takes to find an agent and submit etc., let alone write the story. What I am getting at is that the 'teen to teen' platform will be short-lived...maybe only one novel.

    The focus is on how well you write, whether teenager or centenarian, or anywhere in between.

    Terry
     
  5. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Teens are less likely to be published simply because they often have not has as much time to develop the skills needed to write at the level publishers will want. Although your writing could give away your age, you should never tell them your age until it comes to contracts because people under a certain age need consent from their legal guardian/parent. By then, they have already accepted you and have seen how well you write. The only problem with publishing that young is that it can be used as a marketing gimmick and can follow you until you win a major award.
     
  6. Ezlo
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    Ezlo New Member

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    I agree, Age is only a factor if you don't disclose it. It really shouldn't matter otherwise, especially if the writing is good enough to catch the publishers eye. And If you do show your age, be sure only to show after the Publisher has had their say about your writings. At least, thats what i think.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...not if you meant 'self-publish'... if you meant 'be/get published' then it's no harder than for any writer of any age... it's the quality of the work that counts, not the age of the writer...

    first of all, how would they know the writer is a teenager?... age is not mentioned in queries, so unless you make a point of telling your age, it can't have any bearing on things... that said, if your work was accepted, you'd then have to 'fess up, since you can't sign a contract and a parent would have to sign for you...

    not any harder than for an adult, if you can write marketable work at a professional level... a rare few teens can do that... most can't... it's not their age that makes the difference, only the level of their skills...
     
  8. Keile
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    Keile New Member

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    It's hard for anyone to publish. Whether or not it is harder for teenagers to publish is entirely dependent on the quality of said teenager's writing. Anyone can concievably be published as there is no presiding limitation or barrier that stops one from submitting a story for publication. And yes, teenagers usually write fantasy, but only because everything non-fiction is as interesting as drying paint. And I don't think it's that unusual for a teenager to be published.
     
  9. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    I think the problem is not whether teens can get published, it's whether what they published is actually truly decent writing. Some publishers, I'm pretty sure, will just take something a teen has written and market it as "LOOK HERE! CHILD PRODIGY! KID WRITES THE NEXT TOLKIEN/SHAKESPEARE/ROWLING!", regardless of whether the work was actually great or - more likely - less than great. Which is why I suppose as a teenage writer myself, I try to focus more on making my writing better, because that's what will keep my career alive throughout my lifetime.
     
  10. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Cyb, that is exactly what happened with Paolini. His book was no better than anything any other intelligent 15-year-old can produce, but publishers marketed him llike he was a genius.
     
  11. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    Yeah, that's what I was kind of thinking of too. Actually, in my opinion, looking at it in retrospect, his writing is not that spectacular, and, dare I say, kind of problematic, not just full of - but rampant - with the mistakes of many beginning writers - i.e. a Mary-Sue like character, long descriptions, several plot holes, and so forth. I was okay with the first book, as it was a first book, but afterwards i kind of gave up on the guy. Personally I don't think it's a problem if stuff like his gets published, it's how everyone says he's the next Tolkien. He's not. Tolkien was a pretty old man when he published LotR, working years and years at it. Not that you need an entire lifetime to make a magnum opus, but I do think it's kind of insulting when people compare Paolini to Tolkien.
     
  12. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Obviously, I'm just guessing here, but another problem I see with some teens who get published too quickly or too easily is that it could make them arrogant. People have mentioned that Paolini seems that way in interviews, and that his writing seems to get worse as he goes. Amelia Atwater-Rhodes definitely got worse. It was as if they believed that they didn't need to work on improving anymore, or already thought they were good enough.
     
  13. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    And I think it's pretty bad if people tell teenage writers like me, "Hey, you could be like Paolini! He's a kid just like you!" For some people, perhaps those who aren't as good at writing - if that doesn't sound too arrogant - this may give them the wrong impression. But for others, like me, and many of the kids I have known, we're not morons. We know what is good and what isn't, and we try with our limited abilities to go around that.

    Of course, a good side affect of having people like Paolini getting published is that we know what we don't want to end up as.
     
  14. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's all well and good to motivate kids to write, but yeah, that is a problem. We motivate all our children to be active, but don't give them all the expectation that they could be famous athletes.
     
  15. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    It is hard to get published, period. Doesn't make much difference how old you are. What attracts publishers is primarily saleable writing--which includes excellence in both storyline and presentation, track record (which no novice has at any age), and potential to come through with more and more saleable work. Very few folks who like to think of themselves as writers fall very far into that mix--least of all novices (including, but not limited to young writers).

    Should a publisher "discover" a writer who's both strikingly young and strikingly good, I'm sure they'd be thrilled to secure that writer for future potential. Check out Zadie Smith as an example of a "young" writer who's met with a good deal of success--well earned, IMO. She has her critics, and they are critical of her writing as well as her behavior, sometimes--both rightfully and wrongfully so, IMO. But this is to be expected by any successful author, and at any age.

    Point is, no matter your age, you'll be judged on your excellence and ability to produce more. Unless, of course you're seeking out "young writers" contests and competitions where you'll be judged against other young writers (and this is a great alternative for young writers for all kinds of reasons), where "winning" the contest doesn't mean necessarily you're ready for the big leagues. I think no one really is "ready" in the sense that they have any notion of what difference "success" or falling short of that will actually make--but it will undoubtedly make a difference, for better and/or for worse and will take some maturity to sort it all out (and to benefit).

    In a "young writers venue," if you succeed, you'll probably gain some well-earned confidence as well as some laurels to plunk down when you decide to step into the real world of marketing your wares and your talents.
     
  16. Lil Miss Me
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    Lil Miss Me New Member

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    Not if you don't tell them how old you are! Take it from me, leave your age out of it until the last possible moment, because publishers are under some wierd impression that teenagers and writing just don't mix. If they think you're an adult then your work gets judged fairly on merit alone. That's what counts. :)
     
  17. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Yup. There's no reason to divulge your age at all really, at least not until the contract-signing stage. Don't tell them, and your writing will be judged on its merit, rather than being summarily dismissed due to your age.

    That's not to say that it'll be easy- it's very hard to get published as an adult, too, and you will be measured to an adult standard of writing. Not telling them your age just levels the playing field a bit.
     

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