Top Tips

If you're a writing teen and you want your work published, I'd like to welcome you to the world and dreams of many others.  It's hard to get your foot through the door as a teen.  Partly because of age, of course, and the fact that people are bound to think you can't handle the stress of it all.  But also because you don't have the life experience of someone twice your age.  But don't give up!  It's not impossible to get your book published.  It just takes time, patience, and courage to keep on writing and submitting, even though no one seems to want it.
 
So here are my top tips that I used to successfully enter the publishing world.  Please remember that things differ from person to person, and so what worked for me may not always work for you.
 
*If your manuscript is rejected, will you give up writing forever?  If so, you're probably better off waiting for awhile before you try.  Publication isn't the only reason to write.  Until you can say that you will not give up writing if you're rejected, don't submit.  It'd be a shame to waste talent because you were too discouraged to keep writing.
 
* If you're writing for kids, try getting a child the age you're writing for to read what you've written.  I know from my own reading hours that kids hate being preached at through a book, loathe 'Perfect Priscilla"s, and will tell you exactly what they think of your book - not good if it's not complimentary.
 
*Write, write, write, read, observe, write, write, write, read, observe...  The best way to improve your writing is to write.  Every spare minute around homework, school, sport, and the million and one other things that seem to invade your life, write.  Or read - you improve your communication skills and your vocabulary by reading.  Or you could sit by the window and watch what's going on in the street outside.  It's a brilliant way to get story ideas.  Then go back and write some more.
 
*Have you ever found that the paper stays blank for hours when you're trying to write?  Well, it's going to stay like that until something's on it.  One of the least inspiring things to get your creative juices flowing is a blank piece of paper - or a newspaper.  So get something on the paper.  Start writing anything, even if it's 'What a waste of paper this is, there's no way this is going to help my find a story idea unless the guy next door falls off his ladder again and ends up in hospital like last month, or the dog comes in and slobbers all over my homework again.'  You warm up, and then the ideas come with less trouble (that's my experience, at least).  Or draw your main characters so you can see them.  That way you get a feel of who they are and what mishaps are most likely to happen to them.  Or you could stuff a notepad into you pocket, a pencil behind you ear, and walk out your jinks.  The fresh air - no matter how polluted - always seems to do wonders.  Just - whatever you do - don't sit there thinking about the blank piece of paper before you.
 
* Writing competitions!  People forget the humble competition, and they can actually help snag you a position with a publisher.  You see, a publisher has three piles on her desk: the solicited pile. which come from agents, the 'unsolicited but previously published' pile, which is self-explanatory, and the slush pile, which is new authors who are unsolicited.  And most of a publisher's submissions fall into this slush pile.  So they start with the solicited manuscripts.  Then they'll go to the previously published pile.  And only then, if they get a chance, will they look at the slush pile.  If you've won a competition, or placed in one, it stands out from the majority of the 'Sorry, nothing there, but I'd really work hard to tell people about how amazing it is' ones.  If you've written five short stories in real-life genre, then you write a novel in real-life after winning three contests you've entered with the others, you're more likely to be taken seriously than if you're completely unknown to everyone.  And while most competitions charge a small fee ($5-$15 is average), you can also get monetary prizes if you win.  To find writing competitions, Google as many words (I like to use 'short story competitions Australia conditions of entry form' - it picks the words up and sends back results related to that listed first) as are applicable to your genre and start sifting through the results.  This might be a good weekend one.  Allow several hours, especially if your Internet connection is slow (no, seriously, trust me.  I know all about slow Internet connection.  And millions of results).
 
*When you're writing a cover letter to a publisher, to go with your manuscript, don't mention your age unless the website specifically asks for it.  This means they're looking at your book without knowing your a teen if you are one or however old you are, and they can't tell you it's no good because they don't want to publish a teen.  It's not essential to include your age, so it just gives you a marginally better chance of being published.
 
*Submission Guidelines.  Look out for these words.  Before you submit to a publisher, no matter what your favourite author says about them, check the website.  They may not be accepting unsolicited manuscripts at that time, in which case it's a waste of time and postage sending your book in then, or they may only want a portion of your book at a time.  Just make sure you check the guidelines before you submit anything.  If you can't find the website, usually you can send a stamped, self addressed envelope with a request for the publisher's submission guidelines and they'll send a copy to you.
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