B&A Peeps: Do teen authors understand *why* the mainstream won’t take them?


I know it’s a wonderful thing to want to become published at such a young age. Me personally, it never entered my mind until my late teens, early twenties.

But even *then*, I was far from the stage where my work would be able to stand on its own and withstand public scrutiny. It took me a number of years…

Probably not, because I don’t even think *most or some* of them know that you don’t just “publish” your book. That someone publishes it for you and that it takes years of honing your skill to be ready for publication.

You make some good points, I agree that teen writers– even adult writers who don’t know anything about the publishing process– need to wake up and smell the coffee. Writing is hard work and passion isn’t enough to get you there.

I’m a teen now, and I agree with what you’re saying. It’s not because we’re teens that it’s not likely that we’ll be published; it’s because we’re just starting out writing. The same goes for an adult who just started writing.

I started writing “seriously” when I was about ten or eleven. At first, I thought that every thing I wrote was pure gold and would be published straight-away. Luckily, I stopped thinking that 😉 I know that if I’m ever lucky enough to get published, it’ll be many, many years from now. But I still have to keep writing, or I’m never going to improve. Improving is half the fun of writing, for me.

Great points, Sky XD

I agree. I started writing when I was 9. I’m 21 now. I went through a phase during my teen years when I thought that my writing was so great that I could try and get it published as a teen. Now, looking back at a lot of it, I understand how juvenile it was. Though my writing has improved, I can still write some juvenile stuff. I will edit stuff now and wonder why I wrote a certain thing just three months ago, so with writing, it really is a day by day, month by month, year by year process.

However, I won’t ever say that I am better than another at writing because I’ve been doing it for 12 years, even to Christopher Paolini (I thought Eragon sucked) and Stephenie Meyer (shivers).

my thoughts are…
well i am 18 and yes i have always dreamed of being a published author but yes i intend to work and work and work on my writing (im even taking it as a course at uni to help improve it). I have always understood that its harder to get published when you are young but it wont stop me from trying when my book is as good as i can make it (which might be a few years away so ill prob be in my twentys anyway).
Sometimes i agree with that your saying but i also think that you cannot say that all teen writing is awful. You never know what is out there and you may be pleasantly surprised with some of the things that people can write. Yes young authors need time to develop but don’t crush their dreams. i realise your trying to be realistic but if everyone was realistic then we wouldn’t be living in the world we live in today. I feel as though (and im sorry if your not) but your just ranting at teen writers and putting down their dreams which i think is the wrong way to go about it.

xxx

Hey

Well, it might seem 14 is an old enough age to stop having wild dreams, but if many fourteen year old lads (and girls, no discrimination) dream of being world class footballers, hopefully become a major star in a U-17 club, then why can fourteen year olds not dream of being published? Sure, I understand that if they dream of being published at that age, it’s a bit…out there, but hey, the dreams alive, and once they get to know the world of writing and publishing, they’ll meet reality 🙂 There’s no rush, and it’s not like they’ll be crushed when they face the facts

So, again, they will learn all of this rejection etc once they become more serious as a writer

~ JLT

What you did here was sort of equivalent to telling a roomful of kindergartners that Santa doesn’t exist; it’s the truth, but a slap in the face isn’t normally the best way to break it to them, you know?

These writers, however good or bad they may be, have aspirations and hopes, and when they think they’re doing their very best, they’re on Cloud 9. Can’t we let them enjoy that for a while? Of course it takes time, and as they become more experienced, they will understand that. Some of their questions may seem silly, but they’re new to this stuff and they may be private about their writing so they may feel that they have no one else to ask. When I was younger and just starting to write, I was really embarrassed to show people my stories and would have rather showed them to people I didn’t know.

So, yes, you’re completely right. But as others have said, this is not the way to tell them and, honestly, I’m not sure that *you* have the right. Going back to the Santa analogy– the kids’ own parents should tell them that he doesn’t exist, not the kindergarten teacher. It’s not your responsibility.

Edit: Of course, this is not to say that we should lie to these writers and tell them that their work is super when it isn’t. Honesty *is* best, especially when it comes to critiquing that they ask for, but not in a situation like this when you feel that you’re entitled to tell everyone what they can and can’t do.

*Clap* Nice speech.
Although I am not an active member of B&A, I have been here long enough to see countless teens striving to be like a famous author out there without realizing the hardship they have to get through.They forgot about the harsh reality of the writing business (emphasize upon “business”, because businesses only care about profits, not the writer’s passion of writing), and keep dreaming of one day, they can be like those top-sellers easily. This would be a nice wake up call for those dreamers. But for those who had actually find their calling in writing, this is a nice motivation speech.

I wonder if I should pick back up my dream to be an author? I am just 17.

So basically you are telling us all that out writing will be a load of cr*p and we will never get published until we are older than you because we don’t understand. Well, I know about grammar, comprehension and I know how to spell so I’m part way there. Yes I agree that some teens just can’t write but it doesn’t mean we are all as bad as you think. I want to try and get published because I love writing and the sense that anything can happen in my world and people can’t do anything about it. I don’t write to get published, that would just be a bonus. I have written the same scene so many times that I could recite it from memory to you, I’m working hard to finish within the next two years!
Don’t judge us by everyone you’ve seen and please stop ranting on here, it’s not what its for.

Sky,

You’ve hit the nail on the head many times here. Although, I’ve seen a few teens on YA who have pretty good writing skills. Sure, they make mistakes here and there in spelling and grammar, but for the most part, those I’ve read and liked were far from the childish drivel some of them put out.

Stephen King once wrote that he had a nail put up for his rejects. He tried to get into a magazine at an early age and kept getting rejects thrown back at him at an alarming and depressing pace. He didn’t quit though.

It’s not only the writing skills that have to come to play in writing, Sky, it’s the understanding of what the whole concept entails from start to finish. Many don’t understand how to write a query letter, the difference between a preface and a prologue, Industry Standard Format of the manuscript, when to use a semi-colon instead of a period to divide thoughts, to get out of the habit of using the ‘had’ word too often, the ‘that’ word too often, the run-on sentences that are mostly intended to be descriptive data to describe a character. These are all things that affect a potential writer.

Then we have those who are riding their celebrity parent’s coattails, and those who are celebrities themselves. Everyone who has a brain in their head knows that these folks are not going to be turned down.

I spend a fair amount of time on YA giving what I hope to be a fair amount of help to these kids. I have a file called ‘writing help’ that I often post for them to look over and copy if they like. I have a blog that gives a fair amount of information on just about every aspect of the writing game. These are not my opinions; they are what I went through to get my work published. I get emails thanking me, too. It’s nice to see a person’s time and patience rewarded with a few ‘thank you PJ M).

There are those who don’t like Twilight, and I can understand why. I don’t care for Steph’s views on vampires or werewolves. However, she did something that many failed to do in their writing. She got teens and tweens to get back to reading. She even got them to writing their own materials, even though some of them may be crude attempts at storytelling.

Everyone should read your words, Sky. Well done. Honesty is the best policy. I tell everyone in my YA how they are not helped by reading answers about how well they write, or how good their story is. If it needs work, then it should be told in truth.

PJ M

I kind of partly agree, andpartly don’t, because it kind of sounds like you think ALL teen writers are obsessed with being published and not with enjoying writing. Anyway, I believe that there are many adult writers who are terrible, and many teen writers who are terrible, who are in the same mindset that you’re describing. I also believe there are good adult and teen writers who think like that too. But then, lots of writers who are bad/good/teens/adults just enjoy it, so I don’t believe it’s fair to group kids together and claim that none of them know how to spell and/or use punctuation.

( I’m fourteen, though, so I’m probably biased. 🙂 )

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