Here’s why it’s difficult:
You have to be every bit as good as writers who have spent years and years honing their craft. People who have gotten creative writing degrees in college, who have spent money to go to writers’ conferences and seminars. And people who have lots of life experience to draw on.
I remember about five years ago when I read an article about a group of teen girls who’d written a novel for teens. In the interview, they were quoted as saying something along the lines of how it seemed dumb to them that only 30-year-olds were writing for teens when they (fellow teenagers) understood them so much better.
I don’t remember any of the girls’ names. I don’t remember the title of the book. I remember nothing except what appeared to me as an obvious marketing ploy. The publishing house, whoever they were, saw a great marketing angle and took it. My guess is—and since I don’t remember names, I could be totally wrong on this—none of these girls have a writing career five years later. And my guess is that you would rather have a career as a writer than become some marketing strategy.
Here’s why you might not really want to be published just yet:
I know it sounds like crazy talk, but bear with me.
1. Being a published writer is totally different than I thought it would be. Don’t get me wrong, it’s awesome. But it’s hard. I’m not talking about the writing part. The writing part is a breeze. If that was all I had to do, how sweet life would be. But guess what? Books don’t just land on bookstore shelves and sell themselves. Selling those books is up to me. Yeah, my publisher does marketing stuff too, like ads in magazines, but I’m not their only author. This means the bulk of marketing efforts (and marketing expenses) fall to me.
2. Unfortunately, there’s no IQ test for posting reviews on Amazon.com. Oh, if only there were… Same goes with blogs. Anybody—anybody—can start a book reviewing blog and say whatever moronic thing they want about your book. In high school, this would have totally crushed me. But after spending several years in a critique group, going through the horrendous process of finding an agent, my skin has thickened.
3. Time. Wow, does this job suck away the time. And if a publishing house signs you, they’re expecting you to treat this like a job. Much like you have school that demands your time and attention, I have a 2-year-old daughter who demands mine. When she’s sleeping, I’m working. I work evenings, weekends, whatever it takes to make deadlines and stay on top of my very demanding job. Guys … this isn’t something you need in high school. Or even college. Those are days for staying up too late and sleeping past noon. For spending countless hours playing Wii. Being an author is not a pressure you need.
Okay, so then what’s the point of even trying…?
If you’re like me, the above points were really discouraging and you’re contemplating not even trying anymore. DON’T DO IT. No, none of the stuff I wrote in high school got published. Yeah, it all sucks. But if I hadn’t been so focused on writing in high school, I never would’ve received my first book contract at such a young age. (Twenty-four.) You learn more with each word you write, with each story you plot, with each manuscript you complete. If you’re serious about writing, do it. Write.
Obviously, I think there’s great purpose in writing as a teenager. It’s why I started this blog. It’s why I care about questions and fears and concerns that you have. Please feel free to e-mail me.