Should Teens Publish Books?

An article about a young author's perspective on young people publishing books.
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Created by kpatterson

Published on Jul 1, 2024
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Everyone on the #BookTok side of TikTok has book advertising videos flooding their For You page. From mystical fantasy novels sharing their synopsis to authors showing their writing process, tons of teenagers seem to be crafting their own novels. Whether you’ve been published before or you’re an up-and-coming writer, you may consider starting to write a book. Yet a debate has risen in literary circles regarding the increasing number of young authors. Should young people publish books?

As a young reader, I dreamed of becoming a published author. While I flicked through my copies of Jaqueline Wilson’s novels, I tried to envision my own words filling the pages. What age would I be? Possibly in my thirties after studying the craft for years. As time passed, I took courses and began teaching myself the wonders of the publishing industry and creative writing tips. Suddenly, I started scribbling out a plot, filling out character development questions and searching my brain for ideas. My first book was independently published when I was thirteen. Yes, I was a young adult writing Young Adult fiction for young adults! Young people are becoming authors.

There are many benefits to publishing a novel. From a young age you can establish yourself as an author and gain experience (by making a few mistakes) in the publishing industry. Readers can discover your style and enjoy your unique voice as a young person especially if you’re a young adult writing Young Adult fiction. For example, when publishing my first book I maintained one motto. If my writing made one person smile, that made publication worth the fear. You will have the incredible experience of seeing your entire novel in-print, a feeling that I can’t quite describe. Plus, you may inspire other young people to get involved with creative writing.

However, creating a novel can be a lot to take on at such a young age. Writing a story with nearly or more than 100,000 words is not an easy task. You will be spending hours plotting every tiny detail of your book unless you’re a pantser! If you’re a fantasy writer, world building requires scanning your handmade location to find every flaw. You may sketch your characters and develop them to become three-dimensional beings, poking at each area of their individual lives. This could interfere with your revision schedule, homework and other extracurricular activities as it requires a lot of commitment until the end.

In my experience, I don't regret publishing my book at such a young age. People enjoyed reading my words which made the process worthwhile. However, the journey of publishing a novel was not easy. That's why my main advice would be to manage your own well-being and remember, you've got a lifetime to write this story. Publish when you are prepared to do so. Speaking of publishing …

Writing the novel is only the beginning and for young people, publishing could be a stressful task. If you’re following the traditional route you may need to query literary agents before approaching a publisher as many only accept solicited (sent by an agent) submissions. That could lead to collaborating with an entire publishing house. If you can secure a book deal at a young age, many congratulations! Unfortunately, many young authors may not be considered owing to their age.

If you decide that self-publishing suits you, this can involve other obstacles. For example, a parent will most likely have to publish the book on your behalf. You will have to find a cover design, editing, an independent publishing site and more by yourself. This could be a struggle financially and may lead to querying editors for quite a while. Equally, you will have to handle marketing and advertising independently. Whether you start up a TikTok account aimed at other young writers or share extracts from your novel on podcasts, you will need to attract readers in your target audience. 

Many people may consider youth writing less valuable. Is this correct? Absolutely not. Many young writers can create wonderful pieces of work and the youth voice can be full of such brilliance when given a chance. If you’ve written a book-length piece of work, be extremely proud of your achievement.

This proposes the question once again. Should young people publish books? The answer depends on you. The time you are willing to commit, your resources and whether you are prepared to teach yourself about the industry. The publishing process is tough yet the results are truly indescribable. Even the thought that others are reading my little story fills my heart. If you’ve written a whole novel and you’re dedicated to reaching publication, I’ll be rooting for you all the way. From experience, I recommend that you remember to regularly take time for yourself and other hobbies. If writing balanced with your daily life begins to influence your mental health, you can take a break knowing that your novel will always be waiting for you. What is the final answer to the question, then?

Publish a novel when you’re ready. Weigh up your current situation and other factors in your life before starting, because you can stop writing your book at any point, but once you start that may become difficult. We can become quite attached to our stories and be determined to finish them, and having motivation is wonderful, but this may impact other areas of your life. Remember, you've got years to decide when you are ready! If that’s now, your young voice will be a fantastic addition to the industry. Happy writing!

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