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So, I'm writing a few books at the moment. I really want to become an author when I'm older, but I'm much too shy to email a proper author about what to do or show it to many people. I really feel like people would mock me for aspiring to be an author, but I'm really tired of people ignoring me, especially people I want to impress but don't really notice me. Can you help with this? Is anyone in a similar situation?

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    Hi Nhc, we appreciate your contribution, but Stack Exchange has a policy that users under 13 years old cannot directly participate on Stack Exchange. Please don't feel discouraged though, you're always welcomed with your parent/guardian until you're old enough to have your personal account!
    – Andrew T.
    Oct 13 '20 at 5:08
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    Why tell anyone your age? Find an agent or publisher and submit your manuscript. As it happens my cousin was about 12 when he became such an internationally recognised expert on stamp-collecting that philatelists not only treated him with respect, but often assumed he had a doctorate! Oct 13 '20 at 22:29
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    Alexander Pope wrote his Ode on Solitude at age 12, so you're in good company.
    – Strawberry
    Oct 14 '20 at 14:27
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    Does this answer your question? Is it okay to publish a book at a young age? Oct 15 '20 at 13:21
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    I really hope the OP sees the humour in wanting to be taken seriously for writing even though being young, and then getting banned for being too young. Harsh, but amusing nonetheless. I mean this comment in the best way, but it is kind of funny.
    – C26
    Oct 15 '20 at 16:21

15 Answers 15

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I would say go for it! If you have the possibility of contacting a "proper author," there's no reason not to. If they get back to you or someone from their office does, that would be a huge help to you. And no offense, but if they don't get back to you, they probably won't remember you either so there's nothing to be embarrassed about. There's really no risk in it. Additionally, I would say just keep writing. Your first piece probably won't be perfect, but you can still get feedback on it from communities like this and even from publishers if you decide to submit your work to them. Either way, there's no reason to stop writing.

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    There are a lot of really nice professional authors out there who'll be very very encouraging and may even provide tips and advice. Pick an author in a similar genre and write those letters! Who knows what good can come of it :) Oct 13 '20 at 15:20
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Your first publication will get harsh criticism whether you're 12, 21, or 120.

The fact is, the only way to get good at something is to practice, and the only way to practice is to fail, repeatedly, until you start to do good.

Starting early is not only helpful but encouraged - you will get significantly more experience this way than if, say, you were to wait for yourself to be much older.


Also, this should go without saying, but you should not value so highly the opinion of those who would deride you for nothing but your age.

There may (and likely will) be people who critique your work based on your own qualities rather than the work itself - and you should learn early to ignore that type of critique. It is not constructive, and as you're already aware it can even stifle great creative minds from making further attempts.


In short - starting early is great, and I would highly encourage it. And don't get discouraged if people criticize you for starting so young - their criticism has absolutely no merit.

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  • Conversely, don't be sensitive about your age and don't fall into the trap of dismissing legitimate criticism no matter how much it hurts. Oct 15 '20 at 15:47
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    @MadPhysicist True - though I don't think you have a choice of being sensitive about things, try not to attribute all criticism to that one feature, because you will also get legitimate criticism, and learning to identify, interpret, and grow from that critique is an important part of growing as a writer.
    – Zibbobz
    Oct 15 '20 at 16:08
  • You've phrased what I was trying to say much better than I did :) Oct 15 '20 at 16:17
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Engage in online creative writing/fanfiction forums, with your parents' supervision.

If you want to start writing, be aware that the first things you start writing will likely be really bad. This isn't because of your age, but because you're new to writing - it's been said that the first million words anyone writes will be garbage, so if writing is a skill you want to work on, you'll want to get lots of practice!

One of the best ways to do that is to join an online creative writing community, where you can read other people's writing as well as post your own stories. Often, these are fanfiction communities revolving around a particular fandom; Harry Potter and Naruto were pretty popular about a decade ago, for instance.

Just make sure to get your parents' permission to join any of these online communities first, both because of legal reasons (you don't want them to get in trouble with the law, right?) and because that way your parents can monitor what you're doing, and make sure that you don't stumble across things you might not be old enough to really deal with yet - some fanfiction can cover pretty adult topics, in basically every meaning of the word.

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Angst has no Age:

Youth is filled with self-doubt, criticism, challenges and lack of experience. Guess what? Age is filled with self-doubt, responsibility and inertia. I've ALWAYS wanted to be an author, but the first stories I wrote were REALLY awful, and I let myself be convinced I didn't have a useful contribution to make. Only I couldn't stop wanting to be an author. Finally, I decided I would do it and not care if I was successful or not (okay, I still care, but I'm doing it anyway).

While life experience is helpful in being an author, so is just writing. At your age, I had time to write a whole novel and have it suck, then write another that was better, and finally get some stories published. Only I didn't, because I was afraid. At you age, you might even be able to establish a following and career that could last a lifetime.

The chief thing you need to overcome is fear of rejection. At your age, everyone's opinion seemed to matter, but really those were the people who I would never see and care about again. I still hurt when I answer one of these questions and it gets downvoted. But I do it anyway because success is sweet, failure is bitter, but I think bittersweet makes for the best writing in the world.

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"especially people I want to impress"

If you're doing it because authors get all the hot <insert cute term for gender/orientation here> then you're probably SOL. If you're doing it because you feel driven to do it, then get started, and learn by doing. People who appreciate what you do will be impressed by results, not by talking about it.

Being at school, you'll be doing English assignments involving creative writing. Really work those, and get as much feedback from your teachers as you can. They can't teach you creativity, but they can fix your spelling, grammar, sentence construction, and generally the technical side of things. Of course you can break any of those rules as you develop your style, but you need to know the rules before you break them, and the consequences of breaking them. You might grow into writing like Irving Welsh, but you aren't there yet.

Also being at school, chances are that you'll have a school magazine. See if you can get your stuff printed in there. If it's any good, you'll get kudos for that amongst your peers. And if the older students (or teachers) editing the magazine don't think your stuff is good enough yet, you'll get feedback on what they don't like about it.

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  • What is SOL short for?
    – Mark
    Oct 13 '20 at 13:34
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    I think, Sadly Out of Luck, but YMMV :P
    – user96551
    Oct 13 '20 at 14:22
  • @Mark I always thought it stood for "s**t outta luck", but user96551's suggestion is a little more eloquent.
    – F1Krazy
    Oct 13 '20 at 15:36
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    @F1Krazy Let's stick with "sadly". There are kids present.
    – Unfair-Ban
    Oct 14 '20 at 0:31
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    @Graham Mine... because they are paragons of Innocence and civility. <shouts> go clean your room!
    – CGCampbell
    Oct 14 '20 at 15:49
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This is a great question! I can relate because I am also a young author (I'm not gonna say my exact age but I'm younger than eighteen). My advice to you is to not listen to what other people say, because if you do all you're going to think about when you sit down to write is what you can't do instead of what you can.

subscribe to get emails from informational blogs for writers in general (I like the Write Practice a lot) and ones for teen writers also (like Underlined). If you scour the internet enough, you can find some really good places to learn from, even if you aren't willing/able to pay.

This is a link to a post about young authors who also published young. One of them was even your age (12)!

Just keep your head up! If you practice long enough and keep writing, you can become great.

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When I was about 12, I also found out what I want to become: a programmer. I enjoyed working with computers, writing programs and decided early on that this is something I want to do professionally later on.

This has given me a somewhat clear education path and all in all, I'm very glad to have had the fortune of knowing where I want to go early on; it gave me a head-start when I entered work-life. So if you want to become an author, focus on your path ahead and not on the bystanders. Think about what you want/need to learn to make this dream a reality:

  • Are there courses in your school you can take that may be useful?
  • Are there hobbies that are related you can pick up (like writing for a school paper or things like acting/improv theatre, role playing)?
  • What kind of schools do you want to go to later on and what's needed for you to get there?
  • Are there any clubs you can join that may be useful?
  • Which often-overlooked secondary skills are you going to need (like negotiating contracts, doing taxes and other stuff when self-employed) and how can you learn those?

Some of these questions are for "today", some are for your more distant future. Thinking about them and finding answers (even if they are "it's not going to work this way") bring you a step closer to your goal.

I imagine with writing it's somewhat similar to programming: you have to explore different styles, keep on doing that, be embarrassed by what you produced a year earlier (this means you made progress). As a pupil, you can do that without much financial pressure. You don't have to earn money yet to get something to eat: a big advantage, you can thus use the time you want to dedicate to writing to actually produce whatever you want, instead of what is earning you enough to eat.

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In my experience, the best way to use your interests to catch people's eye is to just do it, enjoy it, be seen to be enjoying it.
People are attracted to happy people enthusiastically doing what they like doing.
Friendships and relationships tend to flow naturally from that.

Anyone who would mock you for your aspirations isn't worth caring about.

As far as being "too young" to be an author goes..
Twelve is pretty young, but Mozart was writing symphonies at nine.
Age is just a number and it has no bearing on your ability to create things that are worth making.
Maybe you'll write the next best-seller and I'll be seeing your book advertised on the high street in a year or two, or maybe you'll have a lot of fun in obscurity for a while.
That's okay. Getting good takes time and practice.
Write your books, if you're proud of them then find ways to share them with people you think might appreciate them.
Above all, have fun!

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As someone who started writing when he was about 10 and is now a published (albeit not particularly successful) author, I consider myself quite qualified to answer this question.

Not to be impolite, but first of all, let's be realistic:

It's very, very unlikely that anything you write at such a young age is good enough to actually be published.

This is not meant as an insult, the things I wrote at that age were certainly no better! I just want you to be realistic - unless you are an absolute statistical outlier, no publisher is going to be interested in what you write right now. This is also the reason why the people you try to impress might choose to ignore you - because they do not think that anything coming from a 12-year-old is actually worth giving attention to. And they are probably right. Trying to get anything published right now will not get you anywhere.

It is, however, not meant to discourage you from your dream. Writing now will still be a very good practice for you. People who start at a young age usually develop a better grasp of the language and its details (something I will sadly never develop for the English language, as I'm not a native speaker) and of the core principles of writing, so you are at a massive advantage later on if you keep on writing!

Another thing you can do to improve your writing and get some (safe) feedback is to show it to someone you know and trust, but who is not your friend or family. Teachers are oftentimes very qualified for that job, as they usually have enough of education to judge literature and are also not so close to you that they don't want to hurt your feelings by criticizing your writing. My German teacher, an old man who took a particular interest in the theater and writing, reviewed my early writing and gave me merciless critique - but he never told anyone else, not even my parents. Through him, I improved a lot, and I'm very thankful for that.

So my advice would be the following:

Keep on going, but keep it to yourself until you are older and confident. Show it to someone you trust but who will not pamper you to improve. Do not try to publish until you know you are actually ready. Be patient, even if it's hard.

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    "it's unlikely anything you write at such a young age is good enough" - feels insulting and not at all helpful. As @Ruadhan2300 points out, Mozart was writing symphonies at 9, and I have no reason to think this 12 year old is any less of a prodigy. The more helpful framing of this part of the answer, to me, is realizing that, yes, many people will not think anything coming from a 12 year old is worth giving attention to; it doesn't make them right, but be prepared for that and don't let it discourage you. The "and they are probably right"-- no, I don't agree with this way of looking at it.
    – Don Hatch
    Oct 14 '20 at 20:10
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    Mozart is an absolute statistical outlier. A one in a Million person. If OP is that kind of person, I'm sorry for insulting them, but when giving realistic advice, you should probably assume that the person you are talking to is of somewhat average talent if there is no diverging indication. I could certainly not give advice to someone of Mozart's talents, and neither could you nor anyone else in this thread. And if OP is an average or even moderately gifted 12-year-old, their writing is not going to be good enough to be published.
    – DLCom
    Oct 14 '20 at 20:17
  • No one is disputing your statistics. In fact, I'll go further and say that if OP is an average or even moderately gifted writer of any age, then their writing is most likely not going to be good enough to be published, statistically speaking. My point is, if one assumes statistics are destiny, then one has a self-fulfilling prophecy, and neither Mozart nor anyone else would ever get started due to the sure futility of it, statistically speaking. And no, I don't assume the person I'm talking to is of average talent. I trust that I, you, and OP are all statistical outliers, where it matters.
    – Don Hatch
    Oct 15 '20 at 0:26
  • Most people who have interest in writing, are of average intelligence and spend a few years learning eventually reach a level of writing that is acceptable for publishing. And no, statistics are not destiny, but people who are extremely talented in a certain regard usually know that anyways. Mozart certainly knew how talented he was and someone on the internet telling him that the music of a 9 yo is not publishable wouldn't have discouraged him. But you have to be realistic with yourself and shouldn't try things you are simply not prepared for if the price is public humiliation.
    – DLCom
    Oct 15 '20 at 18:41
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The big difference between accomplished people and average people is just doing. As you get older you'll look back at your life with regret of not trying, or appreciation that you did what you could. I mentored a robotics team for a bit and one of the kids liked reading and analyzing business and investment news and articles, since jr. high. He then just started submitting his own articles as a freshman in high school and got picked up by a few publications. When he graduated high school he was already making a yearly income close to mine. He was interested, learned and committed. If you want to write, then write, but learn from the feedback. Don't learn "I suck". Learn how to make what you do better, and sometimes learn that other people just don't know what they're talking about. Always get a 2nd and 3rd opinion.

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Go for it, but don't send the content unsolicited. I work in media production and we won't open or accept people's stories as it presents a legal risk to us (people can claim we stole their ideas).

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Things you can do:

Fan Fiction Forums

Building on nick012000's answer, find a forum that hosts fan fiction for a book series you already like and participate in it. Write up whatever you think is interesting, post it to the forum, and then pay attention to the criticism. Learn what makes a story good, and take that knowledge to producing your own original work.

You will make absolutely no money at all from this, but consider the time invested as your education for your intended vocation.

Read, read, and read some more

Read books on every subject, non-fiction as well as fiction, so that you have broad knowledge on as many different subjects as you can find the time for. Your capacity for learning will never be higher than it is now, so take advantage of it.

The only books you should avoid: Works of fiction from the genre in which you intend to work; you will run the risk of imitating them in your own works.

Give up your other hobbies

If you're serious about this, you no longer have a favorite TV show or video game. In fact, aside from reading, writing, and reviewing feedback of works you have submitted for criticism, your only hobby should be something to do with physical fitness; everything else will just eat up your time and give you nothing worth the time in return.

E-publishing

You are wonderfully lucky to have this available. It wasn't around when I was your age.

There are quite a few electronic publishing houses that will publish your book without charging you any money up front. The process is highly automated, so the costs are minimal, and so both you and they get paid when individual copies are sold.

However, these involves things called contracts, and you will need a parent/guardian to sign on your behalf.

Don't Brag

You are at the age where real-life bullying is at its worst. Don't tell anyone at school about your hopes to be a novelist, or dwell on your plans. At this stage it cannot help you; your friends will still be your friends, even if you don't tell them, and the bullies will use anything you say as another pretext to go after you.

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No one cares, kid. This is a blessing and a curse. Memory fades. You can do things and very few people will remember unless you do something truly crazy or stupendous. (The public web, viz. social media, on the other hand, never forgets.)

Email as many people as you can find. Nine-tenths will not reply. If they don't reply, email them again, quoting your sent messages, about three times, but up to five. Have a spine; don't reference the already-sent messages otherwise. Of the ones who reply, nine-tenths will not devote much time to writing you back. All of your action will come from one-tenth of one-tenth. If you email three people per day, that is twenty people per week, ninety per month, nine hundred per year. One-tenth of one-tenth of nine hundred is nine.

In your emails, strive to say interesting things in an interesting way. The more interesting you are, the greater "engagement" you will get. Greater engagement means more responses, of greater length, an indication that a) you are emailing the right people, and b) your writing is compelling.

If you are truly unnoticed, demand attention. Become more flamboyant — perhaps, at first, embarrassingly so. Some people are impossible to ignore. You want to be one of those people.

Someone who mocks you is, whether they know it or not, testing your commitment to your endeavors. How badly do you want the thing? How great is your resolve? No one will mock you for being unwaveringly dedicated to something unless the thing itself is truly moronic.

Authority will tell you kinds of things that may or may not be true. Listen attentively, nod politely, smirk knowingly, and do whatever you were going to do anyway.

Finish the books. Whether you should publish them is another story. Consult your quorum of nine.

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You need not to contact a proper author. You can not impress specific people.

First, you need to impress your readers. Trying to impress some specific people with your books is destined to fail.

Second, you can always self publish. Pick a platform that accepts complete, or better, in progress books, and publish there.

You gain experience as an author from your reader base, as small it is in the beginning.

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Those who mock are bullies. The opinions of bullies are irrelevant. They mock to cause pain, not to improve you. Their mockery isn't valid criticism. Valid criticism won't be sheathed in mockery.

Therefore, if anybody mocks you, you should ignore them, and continue doing what feels right for you.