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I am writing a novel that is called 'Murder' It's about a girl who almost gets murdered but then has to live with the murderers with almost no knowledge that they are the ones that killed her. (Amnesia) The only big problem I have is that I am 12. I want to know if I am to young to write a novel, or get it published. My family (most of them, anyway) support me, but I don't think they know that I am very serious about this. My story went from Androids to this. Is it possible to be young and get it published? (I will probably be done by the time I am 13)

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    I've read books published by teenagers before. They're rare because usually young people aren't that good at writing - it takes years of practice. But it's definitely possible. – Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Aug 11 '15 at 16:58
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    SE Hinton was 16 when she wrote The Outsiders, and Christopher Paolini wrote Eragon at 15. Of course, Hinton's books are classics and I think Paolini's work is tripe, plus his parents published his books for him, but both are examples of teens publishing. – Lauren Ipsum Aug 11 '15 at 17:18
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    Benjamin Lebert wrote Crazy (a German book) at the age of 16. It was both a popular and critical success, and got turned into a highly successful movie. Here is the NYT review of the English translation: nytimes.com/books/00/05/14/reviews/000514.14eugenlt.html – user5645 Aug 11 '15 at 18:43
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    Wasn't the first part of Eragon finished by Christopher Paolini when he was 14? – Ludwik Aug 12 '15 at 7:57
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    Make sure you get a good proof-reader, though, if your writing in the book is anything like the writing in this question. That aside, if you have a goal, go for it! – phyrfox Aug 12 '15 at 14:38

15 Answers 15

33

There are no age restrictions on publishing - you may need to get someone else to sign contracts for you, but that's a minor detail.

That said, it's pretty hard to get a book published, even for adults who've been working at writing for a long time. It's probably best if you focus on writing because it's fun, and give yourself a chance to explore without putting any pressure on to get anything published. I mean, if you get something finished and you're proud of it, sure, you might as well submit it to agents/publishers if you want, but try to remember that the important part about it was the fun you had writing, not the chance that somebody might want to publish it.

12

Don't discount yourself because you're young. That's great that you're starting off so early. Keep at it!

Though I don't believe anyone will have a problem with it, there are different scenarios depending on how you want to be published (self-pub vs traditional pub).

For traditional, no one is going to ask your age when you're submitting queries, so if your story grabs a literary agent, I very highly doubt that they will change their minds because you are so young. In fact, they may even snatch the chance to have an author that has so many years ahead of them and can publish tons of books (which will in turn make them money, too).

Self-pubbing, you'll have to do all of the marketing yourself, which means you won't have to sell yourself to an agent, you'll have to sell yourself to your audience. They're going to know you're 12/13 (or at least very young), and without a traditional publisher behind it saying "yeah this is good", it may be a more work on your part to convince them you're worth it. But definitely not impossible.

My advice: finish your story first. Edit it. Edit it again. Join a writers/critique group and guild. Have it critiqued or edited. Edit it again. And again. And then once more for good measure. Then send it to agents or self-pub. But make sure it's ready before putting it out there. Nothing will destroy your credibility more than poorly edited work, regardless of how old you are.

Good luck. I hope to see you on the best-sellers list!

4

I thought I would throw my two cents into the mix. I wrote my first book(non-fiction) when I was about 16-17 (I am 20 now.) and decided to self-publish it with the help of a few friends and family members.

Short answer: Yes. You can publish your book.

Long answer: Take your first book as the biggest experience of your writing career. It's unlikely that you have written anything of novel length (say 55k words?) before so you don't have experience structuring and planning; understanding how to actually write a novel, at this stage, is more important than actually writing one. Take keen notes on your process or adopt the process of a famous writer like I did with Walter Mosley. He wrote 1000 words everyday and at the end of the day he would revise the previous days 1000 words and so on and then he would read the book multiple times over. Plan everything out literally everything.

So, that's the process aspect.

If you are going to self-publish your book (something I recommend at this stage) then you need to understand distribution, cover design, marketing, editing etc. This may sound a little daunting but understanding how all these things work together is important to understanding how you can get people to read your stuff; consider having a small book launch with family and friends. Ask your school if you can talk about your book by going into classrooms etc.

Find a solid editor. Sometimes, we downplay the importance of a good reader but don't. The editor will tell you where your story is losing interest in the reader, they will also talk to you about your grammar etc. Avoid family members unless they are honest. At the end of the day, you want your book to be the best and if you family or friends can't tell you that something is wrong with the book or you don't want your writing to affect your relationships then hire someone - they will most likely to do a better job.

Once you have all of this figured out and you have your novel published and it's a hit (fingers crossed) - don't wait, start writing the next one.

I hope that helps! Good luck!

4

Yes, you can. There are absolutely no age restrictions when writing a book. A very famous author named Gordon Korman published his first book when he was 12. I also believe that if you are younger you have a better imagination. But make sure to tell your parents you are very serious about it because they will have to sign contracts. Another bad thing is that not many people will take you seriously. Anyways, write your book and get it published!!! Trust me, you can. :)

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it - Toni Morrison.

3

Yes, you can write a book even though you're young.

No, there is no guarantee that it will become widely read, or that it will sell a lot of copies.

There are two ways to learn something:

1) Learn from someone who has done it before (and achieved the result you want to have). Usually you end of with similar results to your mentor.

2) Do it (Practice again and again and again until you get really good at it). No amount of listening to anyone will make you good at anything. You learn by doing, not merely by hearing or seeing someone else do it.

Also consider as a writer you have two objectives: writing well, and marketing your books well. You need both skills to be a successful writer.

You can accomplish these two things no matter how young or old you are, if you learn from someone who has the results you want to have, and if you consistently keep writing and learning to effectively market your books.

If your family doesn't take you seriously, just keep moving forward until you can show them what you've accomplished and you need their help to move forward. "Mom, Dad, look. You guys know I love writing, and I've been working on a book. Here's my first manuscript. I know there's no guarantees that anyone will like my book, but can you help me try to send my manuscript to a publisher (or an editor, or some other book writing / marketing professional). Could you help me with that?"

3

If the novel is good enough to get published, it won't matter how old you are. You'll just be that much cooler.

I've been trying to get published since 12, like you—well actually 11—and I'm 17 now, still sans dice, as they say. I hope you have more luck. Don't ever give up. And maybe brush up on your homonyms ("too" vs "to"—though that's minutiae).

3

Quick answer: Nancy Yi Fan started writing her first book at age seven. At 10, she got it published. It was called, "Sword Bird". I never read it myself, but it got good reviews and was fairly popular. Now she has two more Sword Books published. Three books published before you're twenty is a pretty sweet accomplishment.

Yes it's quite possible.

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I think whether or not you can get the book “published” is irrelevant. I recommend you don’t even concern yourself with that.

In the first place, you can publish it yourself, on your own website, or through iBookstore or Amazon. But perhaps even more important, the process of writing the book and expressing yourself and growing as a writer is the key thing. I would say that to a writer of any age, but to a young writer such as yourself it is even more important.

If you have an ambition to write, then write write write write write and also read read read read read. When you have a finished manuscript, then you have a sort of sidecar concern of how to share it with people. That really is secondary. Many great writers wrote multiple books before they got one published.

A supportive family is good. Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do it.

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It depends what kind of publishing we are talking about.

I think it's actually better to pursue traditional publishing at a young age, provided you understand you are probably in for a long road of rejection and revision. There is a big push for exclusivity in publishing and that will certainly include new voices for new generations. So I think pursuing traditional publishing at an early age is okay.

I would caution against self-publishing, unless you are really sure. The risk for publishing sub-standard material is high, even for an adult writer. Plus, all artists grow and change with time, no matter what the medium, and I wouldn't want you to self-publish something you might one day regret. With traditional publishing, you would have the advice of an agent and editors to fall back on, but that's not the case with self-publishing. Granted, self-publishing is probably too expensive anyway, but if the option ever emerged, I just wanted to add a word of caution about it.

2

I believe you are too young to publish a novel. Look at work you have from a year ago, chances are you likely want to change it and don't like it. You aren't even in high school yet, you haven't had enough experience to write a great novel. Even for adults it is hard to find a publisher, chances are even slimmer if you are a child. You can write all you like, and you will get better and better by writing and reading more. Save the manuscript you write, and if the idea still sounds good to you when you are an upperclassman in a high school, review it. Then in college go forth and try to publish it. Good writing will come with time. When I was 12 I thought my writing was great. I look at it now and oh my god does it suck. I am not being rude here I am being honest- with close to full certainty I say your writing likely sucks. It isn't that you can't write well for your age, it is that the audience you are looking out to likely does not want to read writing from such an inexperienced person. I wouldn't. Just keep writing and one day you can become good enough to be published professionally.

2

Well, this has a lot of answers, so i'll keep it simple.

Most people don't publish their first book, regardless of age. You could be forty, writing a book, and still wouldn't be able to publish it.

If it's a good book, obviously you can get it published, no big deal. It's actually pretty impressive. But good writing comes with practice, not with age. Write a lot, read a lot, and maybe you'll get a book published before you turn eighteen. But that doesn't necessarily mean the one you are writing right now.

2

I am 10 years old and I have published my own book. Not saying that has anything to do with you but I am saying you do have the possibility:) My novel is called "The Twelfth Birthday" just in case you want to look it up. Believe in yourself. Your age has nothing to do with doing what you love:)

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There are many books out there that have become best-sellers because their authors were young! Early genius as well as an "authentic voice" (instead of having adults speak for the young) are two of the strongest selling arguments in the media today.

If your book is as well written as that of an adult author, yours will be the one the publisher buys.

But it has to be equally good. Age alone doesn't sell a book, either, so do what all the adults do and put the same amount of effort into it.

Good luck!

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    Do you have examples of the many books that have become best sellers based on the authors being young? I guess it's hard to ever be sure of the cause and effect, but even books where the age of the author was a big part of the marketing campaign? SE Hinton and Christopher Paolini and...? – Kate S. Aug 12 '15 at 16:40
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I am a young writer too! :) I've been creating a series with my best friend we are both young and I we found an author that have invested in us and has taken the time to really get to know us <3 What I've learned so far is to not fall down when people think your too young ;) one of my favorite Bible verses is: "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity." 1 Timothy 4:12

I hope you go on with your writing, I bet your great at it! <3 Shine and let God shine through you!

And know you will shine brighter then the others if you start now 'cause you started running before you will on the team ;) Good luck! And God bless you on your journey of writing! <3

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    Why do you assume that the person who wrote the question follows an Abrahamic religion? – Simon White Feb 7 '16 at 13:04
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It's okay to publish a book at any age. If it is a good book (or at least "good enough.)

Worse come to worse, if you can't publish at age 13, you can try again at age 18 or age 23.

A famous writer, Pearl S. Buck published her first book at age 10, I believe.

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