The question is: Should teen writers be published?
This stands back to back with the question "Can teen writers be published?", which, in my opinion, has only one answer. And that's yes. Obviously. It's been proven and done. There are teen authors out there (way to go, guys!). That's not the question I'm tackling in this post. This brings our attention back to the "should" in my first question.
Should they be published?
I don't think there is one, solid answer, to tell you the truth. It is completely dependent on that writer, both as a person and as-- well, a writer. The way I see it, the deciding factors of whether or not you (as a teen writer) "should" be published are as follows:
- Your maturity. Can you handle a book deal? Can you handle a professional relationship with your agent, publisher, and editor? Are you prepared for the life of an author (book signings, tours, readings, etc.)? Are you prepared for both success and no success? All those questions should have a very confident "yes", with agreement from the older, wiser people in your life (peers, too) before you consider taking the road of publishing. If they don't, one of them might come back to slap you in the face, later.
- Your work itself. Is it well-written? Has it been read/honestly critiqued by your critique partners /writing peers? Is it at least a third draft? (I'm sorry, but you have to be extremely lucky and/or incredibly talented to have a presentable draft that's anything earlier than a third.) Is it properly punctuated, edited, and clean of all grammar mistakes? And (possibly most importantly) do you love it? If you pass all those tests, and you have something that's tight, squeaky-clean and that you're head over heels in love with, then you're totally ready to start asking the questions in #1.
- Your readiness and willingness not to give up. This is a hard one because it's so easy to become discouraged. Ask any author who's queried (well, not counting those amazing ones that land deals on their second try) and they will tell you that it's quite a ride. It's not going to be easy, and you're definitely not going to be offered a rainbow bridge or a flying unicorn to the Land of Published Authors. (Unless, of course, you are one of those amazing second-try deal-landers.) It's good to be prepared for rejection, to remind yourself often your vision for that novel (a.k.a why you wanted to publish it in the first place), and to be able to separate the opinions of agents from fact about you and your writing. That goes hand in hand with humbleness and being ready to back down and admit -- after the eleventh agent that says something -- that maybe your main character really isn't likeable.
While all the above is totally my opinion (do keep that in mind!), there is truth to it. I know this, having followed more than one writer in their journey toward publication. Some have succeeded, some are still trying. And what separates those (mostly adult) writers from us teens?
Nothing but a few years.
So my overall, summed-up answer to "Should teen writers be published?" is why not? If you are ready in all aspects mentioned above, and then some, then what should stand between you and success? Age is but a number. If you're ready, your novel is amazing, and you're surrounded in loving and supportive writer friends (hey, even if you're not!) GO FOR IT. And I wish you all the best.
Just my two cents.
For the comments, I'd love to hear your opinion! Do you agree or disagree with what I've said? Are you a teen author with a goal of publication? What are the things YOU think should be deciding factors of whether or not teen writers should query, and ultimately, aim for publication?
Until next month!