Question of the Week: Is It Harder For Young Writers To Get Published?

15 Jan

A quick note before we answer our Question of the Week! When submitting your Book Trailer Contest entries, be sure to e-mail LetTheWordsFlowBlog@gmail.com! There was some confusion regarding the e-mail address, so we just want to clarify. A HUGE thank-you to everyone who has submitted so far! We’re totally blown away by how awesome your entries are! Keem ’em coming, guys!

So, our Question of the Week comes from Gabby, who asked us:

Is it more difficult for a teenage writer to get published than it is for an older writer?

Hope this helps, Gabby!

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I don’t know about older writers, but I do know that it’s difficult to be published when young because–before we are a writer, we are a student first. Here is the to-do list of a writer/student (me): Finish manuscript rewrite requested by agent, begin history research paper on Romanticism, research paper on Jane Austen’s Persuasion, essay paper on O’Conner’s work, study for psychology and sociology midterms…

Things would get MUCH more busier if my work got contracted by a publishing house. If you read Mandy’s article on the process to publication, editors will send you revision letters along with a deadline. And somehow a student would have to cram their school life somewhere in between…But I’m totally up for it. I think.

-The Writer Who Got Two Partial Requests

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Disclaimer: I’m not an expert on this subject, but I did read Miss Snark’s blog back in the day.  From what I understand, agents and publishers are looking for people who can write.  Period.  If you’re not old enough to sign a legal contract, then a parent or legal guardian has to sign for you, but that’s about
the only thing I can think of that would be different for teenager authors compared to anyone else.  In fact, I can think of some teen authors (*cough* Christopher Paolini) that were especially promoted because they wrote their books at such a young age.

The Writer Who is Writing Queries

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I think it is not harder to get published when you are young or when you are older. Agents and publishing houses are just looking for people who can write and write well. There are tons of young authors who have been published at ages like seventeen or eighteen. And then there are people who are older when they publish like in their fifties or whatnot. I believe that in order to get an agent, you should write the best story you can write. Then, edit it. Then if you feel you are ready, query. Get an agent. The point is to write the best story you can write and to not worry about your age. As they say, age is just a number!

The Writer Writing Her First Novel

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It is absolutely *NOT* harder to get published as a minor than as an adult. It doesn’t matter if you are 16 or 56, becuase the process is the same: you query agents. And there is no reason to mention your age (no matter what it is) in your query letter. Thus, if they don’t know you’re a teen, they aren’t going to treat you any different than anyone else.

Now, is it harder to be a really good writer when you’re 16? Yes, probably. Someone who is 56 might have spent the last 20 years writing. But it’s not impossible. The writing is what matters, not your age. I got my first agent when I was 23.

-The Writer With A Book Deal

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I pretty much second everything “The Writer With A Book Deal” just said. Couldn’t have phrased it better myself.

-The Writer Waiting on Submissions

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I would say it’s not more difficult for a teenage writer to get published than it is for an older writer simply because of age. By that I mean that if you start building up writing credits from a young age, it will be easier for you to be published in a magazine or by a publishing house, as opposed to a 30-year-old who has no writing credits. The most difficult obstacle facing teenagers trying to get published is very simple: Time. People aged 13-19 simply don’t have and haven’t had enough time! It takes many years of reading and practicing to develop the writing and creativity skills necessary for publishing. There’s a reason why there are very few teenaged authors… writing is tough! And some people need more time than others to get to a point in their lives where they are capable of writing good work. Even if you’re to the point where you can write well, you still have to actually write that novel, and it can take years!

Another problem is that the publishing process is SLOW. I signed with my literary agent when I was a teenager (not quite the goal I was hoping for, but close enough), and let’s just say that while waiting to be published I have exited my teens. Once I actually sign with a publishing house there will be an even longer wait while I go through edits, and then waiting for the book to come out.

In conclusion, I think the only real problem (though it is a definitely a huge problem, no doubt) facing teenagers is not having enough time to develop as a writer, actually write a book, get an agent, get a publisher, and have their book come out. You’re a teenager for only 7 years, and an adult for hopefully 60 or more, so the odds are on the side of adults to be published more.

There are teenaged exceptions of course, but you’ll find that these are extra-ordinary circumstances, or they cheated (*cough*Christopher Paolini*cough*).

-The Other Writer Waiting on Submissions

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Thanks for stopping by, everyone! And be sure to continue sending us your Book Trailer Contest entries! 🙂

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