Last time I talked about the realities of being published and reasons why being published as a teen might not be so great. This time I'll focus on what you can do to make this dream come true.
Because even though I stand by everything I said in my original post, I get where you're coming from. My goal was to be published as a teen too. And then when I opted out of college, my goal was to be published by age 22 so when my friends were all getting their diplomas, I could point to book on the shelves of Barnes & Noble and say, "See? I accomplished something too."
I didn't achieve either of these goals. Partly because they're hard things to achieve, but also because I wasn't good enough to be published at that age. The stuff I wrote then makes me cringe. So a better goal would have been to be good enough to be published.
I don't believe in setting goals that depend on somebody else. Goals need to be something that you have the power to achieve. So you can have the dream of being published as a teen, but to achieve this dream for yourself, set goals that you can accomplish.
Here are the ones I would suggest:
1. Read a lot/Write a lot
This is why publication is something that often takes a long time. Because it takes a lot of writing to get good at it. If you're serious about getting published, start here.
2. Carve time out of your schedule for writing, and protect it fiercely.
Achieving a dream like being published as a teenager will require sacrifices. Same as being in the school play or on a soccer team means sacrificing time with friends/time for vegging, your writing will have to as well.
3. Go to a conference
I went to my first writer's conference when I was in high school. I took a Friday off from school, and my dad (who's not a writer, just supportive) went with me. I was the youngest one there by about 20 years. I was too shut off to make friends with any of the other writers, but I talked to all my teachers and even an editor from Simon and Schuster. I didn't realize it at the time, but I'm pretty sure they all thought it was "adorable" that I was there. And I think the same thing when I'm at conferences now and see high school students there. (Though I don't find it quite as adorable when their guardian thinks I'm also in high school. That woman got the shock of a life when I stood up from the dinner table, revealing my big 8-month-pregnant belly.)
At conferences you'll meet other writers, you'll attend classes, and you'll have appointments with editors and agents who will talk to you honestly about the industry and your chances. They're expensive, but they're valuable.
If you can't go to conference, then consider
4. Entering a contest
I entered the first three chapters of Me, Just Different in the ACFW contest for unpubbed writers. I had a big enough ego to think it was a shoe-in. Not only did I not final, my judges ripped it apart.
Turns out the opinions of my husband, parents, and close friends are quite different than those of writing professionals. And while that hurt, the advice I received from those judges is what led me to changing my story, and those changes are what snagged me my agent and publishing house.
Ultimately, you don't get to decide if you'll be published as a teenager. That's up to a pub board somewhere. But if you want to do everything you can to keep them from rejecting your manuscript, the above 4 goals will help.
Have a writing question? E-mail me.