Today I’m thankful for the ability to publish as a minor, and to learn a little bit more about that whole process, I invited an amazing author over on the blog to talk about her experiences:
LUCY SAXON (Author the Take Back the Skies series)
Publishing as a Minor
As anyone who has ever been published — or attempted to get published — will tell you, getting a book deal is as much down to luck as it is to skill. There are any number of reasons a publisher may turn down a submission; lack of budget; something similar is already on their list; it’s just not what they’re looking for; the list goes on. But age is very rarely one of those reasons. If anything, being unusually young is a high selling point for a publisher, but only if the work is of the standard they’re looking for. When people buy books, they don’t look at the author’s age — they’re just a name on the cover. In that regard, getting a book deal as a minor is very much the same as getting a book deal as an adult. In launching yourself into the publishing industry, in choosing to pursue a career that requires a pretty thick skin, you won’t be treated like a child and you shouldn’t expect to be.
Because of that, a lot of the advice I would give young authors hoping for a book deal is the same advice I would give older authors — do your research, get yourself an agent, and don’t take it personally when the rejections come in. If your work is good enough, you’ll get there.
However, there is one major difference in trying to get published as a minor; you will be required by law to have a parent or guardian sign any contract or agreement on your behalf, until you are of the age of majority in your country. This isn’t a bad thing. For me this was my dad, who has experience with reading and negotiating contracts through his work, and that meant that through the earliest stages of getting my book deal, when I was most unsure about how to proceed, I had him with me to double check that I was happy with every decision being made before it was finalized and knew exactly what I was signing, as a person who has only my best interests in mind.
In every step of the process, the most important thing is that you are comfortable with how it’s going, and you’re confident in your ability to speak up if at any point you become uncomfortable. Having a good relationship with your agent is vital in these instances, so don’t make that decision lightly. Meet them before signing anything, make sure you get on with them and can work well with them. Your agent is the person in your corner, the person who will fight any and all battles for you and have most of the tough conversations so that you can remain on polite terms with everyone else. If you’re not happy with something, and don’t feel comfortable voicing it to your agent, then it’s not a good working relationship. The same goes for editors and publishers, once you have one; if you aren’t comfortable disagreeing with them, or refusing a suggestion, then you won’t end up happy with the final result.
But this isn’t specific to young authors, though you’ll feel like it is. When I started out, I felt like a child in a room full of adults, and was unsure where the boundaries were as far as agreeing to things and what I should expect in return. I thought it was just because of my age, but as I got to know other authors new to the process, I quickly learnt that I was not alone; authors twice my age were having the exact same concerns as me. Concerns I had kept quiet about, assuming I’d be showing my youth and inexperience if I voiced them.
No matter how stupid you think your question might be, I guarantee you will not be the first to have asked it, and you will feel much better for doing so. In entering publishing from a young age you are asking for people to treat you as an adult, responsible for your own choices and decisions, and while of course you will have a network of people there to help you along the way, you need to be prepared to take on that responsibility in whatever form it comes. You want to bring a parental chaperone with you to events and meetings? No problem. But your parents can’t help you if you don’t ask for that help, and they can’t bail you out if don’t meet your deadlines. Being an author is still a job, and you need to be ready to treat is as such.
Of course, everyone’s experience is unique, and this is just mine. As well as that, while I was a minor (16) when I signed with my agent and found my publisher (17), I was not a minor by the time my first book came out, so things were a little different. But the hardest part, for me, was in doubting myself because of my age, assuming that others saw me as a stupid kid playing at being an adult when that was in no way true.
All you need to do is remember that throughout the entire publishing process, you have a voice that is worth listening to and it is in your best interests to use it. After all, that’s what people are interested in — not your age, or your name, or anything else that you might see as an obstacle. They want your voice, and your story, and your words; and all of that is ageless.
However, in being a minor, you also need to be aware that there are probably other things going on in your life that are a little more pressing; mainly, school. Getting a book deal can wait, but your education can’t, and if you aren’t able to find the time to concentrate on both then you need to let school take center stage for a while. If you’ve got the talent, then you will get there eventually, whether you do so at fourteen or forty. As boring as it sounds, you have to be sensible about it. But if you do have the time, then don’t hold yourself back under the assumption that being published will have to wait until you’re older! There’s no minimum age required to get on the crazy rollercoaster that is a career in publishing — just the determination to hold on tight and enjoy the ride.
As a teen who wants to get published, I really liked this post and I know I’ll be referring back to it soon; thanks Lucy for sharing your experiences for this event! Be sure to check out
Lucy Saxon is 20 and lives in Hertfordshire with her parents. She describes herself as a cosplayer, con-goer, book-lover and all-round nerdgirl.
Lucy wrote her first novel, Take Back the Skies, at the age of sixteen, finding a home for it with Bloomsbury at seventeen, and is now working on the rest of the series.
When not writing, Lucy spends most of her time on the internet, reading books and slaving over her sewing machine.
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