Wednesday, February 19, 2014

5 Tips for Teen Writers: Things I Wish I'd Done

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Now that I am no longer a teen, I can look back at the beginning of my writing journey and see all the things I did that helped bring me to where I am today. However, I can also look back and wonder what could've happened if I had done some other things that I failed to do.

As a teen writer, you may think that the only way you should fill your free time is to write. Although that is obviously the best thing to do if you want to become an author one day, there are also several other things that could help strengthen your writing, prepare yourself for publication, and build a readership:

     1. Hire a professional editor.

No matter how good you think your writing is, it needs some improvement. I'm not saying this just because you're a teen; I'm saying this because every book should be edited before it is shown to agents or publishers. And no, being edited by your mom or best friend doesn't count. You need to hire a professional editor (such as this young woman) to edit your manuscript, provide feedback, and offer suggestions. 

Doing so will pay off tremendously. You want to make a good first impression when you submit to agents/publishers; you do not want to come across as an amateur in the writing business. Instead, you need to perfect your writing craft in a way that will make it difficult for an agent to tell a difference between your writing and an adult's writing.

And one way to do this is by hiring an editor (once you have a complete manuscript, of course). 

     2. Join a critique group.

If you don't have one in your area, find one online. Critique groups can be very beneficial because not only will you receive feedback from several people, but you will also have the opportunity to meet other writers. (I think one reason why I didn't join a critique group as a teen was because I didn't want any of the adults to look down on me because of my age. However, most adult writers do encourage teen writers, so don't let your age hold you back like I did.)

Receiving a critique from different pairs of eyes will enable you to spot your weaknesses and learn how to improve them. Again, this will most likely increase your chances of finding an agent.

     3. Publish your work online.

There are several websites that allow writers to submit their work. Doing this is beneficial because you will meet other writers, receive feedback, and build a readership even before you publish a book.

Here is a list of websites that allow teens to share their writing:
  • Teenink. This is a magazine and website that is completely written by teenagers. You can publish your fiction, nonfiction, reviews, and even poetry. 
  • Wattpad. On this website, you can post your fiction book--even before it's 100% written--and hear back from your readers! Your followers will read your book, chapter by chapter, as you write. Teen author Beth Reekles, who was first discovered on Wattpad, has recently had her books published (which she wrote on this website) by Random House. 
  • You can also send an article, short story, poem, etc. to several magazines that accept submissions from teen writers. Doing so will help build your resume, which in turn will look impressive to agents and publishers.
  • Figment. This website is similar to Wattpad--teens can share their writing, receive feedback, and possibly have your writing read by a HarperCollins editor!

     4. Participate in writing contests.

There are several contests for unpublished writers that you can submit to. If you win, this would also look very impressive on your resume.

Here is a list of contests that you can submit your short story, novel, poetry, article, etc. to:

     5. Write a book during NaNoWriMo.

If you aren't aware of National Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), it's when writers all over the world share the same writing goal for the month of November: Complete a 50,000 word book within four weeks. Since I was always in middle of a project during this time, I have never participated. However, I think it would be a great way to practice self-discipline, stretch yourself to reach a goal, complete a book, and meet other writers.

     ➙ Extra Resources

As a teen writer, it is important that you use this time to develop your craft and prepare for publication. The best way to do this is to read books in the genre you write and books on the writing craft; study industry blogs and become familiar with how the publishing process works; and, of course, write.

Below are a list of books and blogs on the writing craft (for teens):

     ✎ If you are a teen writer, have you accomplished any of the above? If you are older, what do you wish you would have done as a teen writer? 

♡ ♡ ♡

PS: Would you like to . . .
  • discover new, clean YA/New Adult books?
  • discuss these books with other young readers?
  • participate in a monthly giveaway?
  • support authors and promote clean books?
  • possibly win some prizes?
If so, head over to my new website, ReadingClean to join a 100% free virtual book club! You can find everything you need to know about this club on its about page. I hope to see you there! =)
photo credit: Slaff via photopin cc

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  1. I'm a teen writer as well. I did not have my manuscript edited professionally before I sent it out, but after I got a revise and resubmit request I had it edited by an editor. I'm part of a local writers group. They critique each other's work and do weekly writing exercises. I haven't participated in NaNoWriMo because, like you, I am always in the middle of a project. These are all good things to do! Thanks for the advise Tessa!

    1. No problem, Jacqueline! That's great that you decided to have it edited. Many writers are often too afraid that an editor is going to tear their manuscript to pieces, so they don't hire one. However, if an editor does do that, it is usually for your own benefit. I'd much rather have a hired editor to tear my story to pieces rather than a rejection.

      Thanks for commenting!

    2. Me too! I'm not really afraid of someone ripping my stories to pieces. I work well with harsh criticism (as long as it is constructive). My problem was always the cost of hiring an editor and finding a trustworthy one. I had some people refer me to good, reputable editors, then my only problem was cost. I'm a bit frugal ;)

  2. hi!!! I have a question. How the heck would I pay a editor??? Like the only source of income i have made is mowing nbr's lawns and I can't mow lawns in the winter!!! i realy have no money at all to pay for an editor. any ideas on what I could do??

    1. Well you could either only pay them to do part of the story, and do your own editing on the rest. Or you can find a beta reader and swap manuscripts with them. You edit their story and they edit yours. But I would be cautious on who you get as a beta reader. You want someone who critiques well and is trustworthy. You can hang out on absolute write water cooler forum or get to know some people at a local critique group.

    2. Jacqueline, thanks for your response!

      Evan, I wouldn't recommend hiring an editor until you have a completed manuscript (which should range between 50,000 and 100,000 words, depending on your genre). Also, once you have it written, make sure to edit it yourself before hiring an editor. Like Jacqueline said, you could pay them to only edit part of the story--such as the first three chapters.

  3. Hmm. I've participated in NaNo the last few years, tried a few writing contests, and published my work online. Personally, I've found that it's difficult to get adequate feedback on TeenInk and Figment, due to the enormous number of writing on each site. However, the Twin Cities has a really vibrant arts community, so there are several teen crit groups that I could join, as well as writing courses where I could meet other writers.

    I'm currently a reader for a lit-mag, Polyphony HS. The writing they publish is quite impressive, and each piece submitted gets detailed feedback from three high-school-age editors. The link's

    Really liked the post, Tessa!


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