Guide to getting published as a teenage writer
Getting published as a teenage writer is definitely possible. If writing is what you love doing and something that you choose to do, then go for it. Do not be discouraged, read the starting out and writing tips sections of this guide and start writing well. There have been many successful teenage writers who have had bestselling novels published. To name two:
- Lauren Fuge, When Courage Comes to Call, published when she was 17 years old
- Christopher Pasolini, Eragon, published when he was 19 years old.
Steps to getting published as a teenage writer
1. Fiction versus non-fiction
There are two separate processes for getting published:
- Fiction process
- Non-fiction process
There is one question you need to ask yourself, that is, are you ready?
- Is your story or book actually done?
- Have you edited, reviewed, re-edited and re-reviewed the book to check for errors?
- Have you checked for inconsistencies in the plot, characters, setting and so on?
- Have you identified the literary genre your book can be classified in?
- Have you shown the book to anyone and have they encouraged you to get the book published?
First impressions count. If your book is not ready, work on it before approaching a publisher or literary agent. Practically all publishers and agents will need a novel or work finalized before they will even look at your work.
If you intend to publish non-fiction, in most cases, the work will not need to be completed. You will be able to submit a proposal letter and sample pages or chapters of the book to the publisher or agent.
2. Research publishers and literary agents
Publishers are organizations that publish books, journals, magazines and other forms of fiction and non-fiction work. Literary agents are the ‘middlemen’. They represent authors and promote the authors’ works to publishing houses in return for an agent fee. Usually the fee will be a percentage of sales made on the work once it has been published.
What you need to know:
- Is the publisher or literary agent still accepting new work?
- If so, will the publisher accept materials directly from aspiring authors or does it require materials to be submitted through a literary agent?
- What literary genres does the publisher or literary agent accept?
- What are the submission guidelines of the publisher or literary agent?
3. Making inquiries
You will need to send a query letter to the publisher (if the publisher accepts non-agent material) or the literary agent. The query letter is a one-page letter which introduces you and the book. It should include:
- a hook (a tagline to catch the attention of the publisher or agent);
- a short synopsis;
- a short biography of yourself with your contact details; and
- how you will market the book if it is published e.g. using social media to inform your friends, communities etc.
Non fiction process:
With non-fiction, a book proposal is normally required. The proposal should include:
- a hook (what makes the book different from others);
- a one paragraph to half page summary of the book;
- attach a detailed chapter summary and first 3 chapters if possible;
- a detailed biography on your expertise. If you are writing about online games for example, you need to describe what makes you an expert about the subject matter; and
- how you will market the book.
4. When you receive an offer
The publisher or agent may require you to send the rest of the book to them. Before you send it to them, check the following:
- reputation of the publisher or agent – ask online communities and other authors
- publishing contract – review especially fees and charges.
If you decide to accept the offer, your work will go through a formal editing and publishing process.
5. If you get rejected
Do not take it personally. If your book has been rejected because of its form, go to step 1 and review the questions there, and start the process over.