By McCaid Paul
You’re too young.
Let it rest. You haven’t experienced enough.
Get through school and maybe then you’ll have time.
If you’re a young writer, you’ve probably heard this countless times before. The truth is, there’s always an excuse in putting your dreams on the back burner.
Right now, there’s this mentality I see spreading around the writing community that teen authors shouldn’t be allowed to publish. Don’t believe me? Watch a YouTube video on it. Surf through the toxic Twitter feed.
Why is this happening? Why isn’t there a plethora of support surrounding this young and upcoming breed of writers?
Jealousy. A complete lack of experience, some say.
So how about I tell you this—age denies fences. I published my first novel when I was 14. Writing doesn’t come with an age limit. Period.
That’s why I can’t keep adding on to this belief—I want to shed some light on teen writers, like myself, so there’s not as much pressure for them to call it quits. At least, not yet. Now, let’s look at the benefits to starting early:
More Public Engagement: When I announced I was publishing a book, a whole team of people jumped on board. Why? Because the thought of someone young actively pursuing their passion led to much curiosity and interest in the community. I can guarantee the same will happen with any Teen Author. At times, we’re overlooked, but once people notice, we become memorable. We’re not wannabes—we’re driven, mature young writers on the road to success. My career began with a FaceBook post. That was all it took.
More Luck at Book Signings/Author Events: Where this seems entirely unrealistic to most authors, teens have the upper hand. Whenever customers see a bright, young person asking them to buy their book, it becomes much harder for people to say “no.” The fact that someone in their early-to-late teens can write AND publish their own story is a feat in itself, and people will notice that. Once, I sold 120+ books at an event, not because I was well-known, but because I was open, friendly, welcoming, and well…young. Soon, Chipola College reached out, asking if I could speak to a couple of their classes about my motivation, desire, and commitment to publish. People view us in a much different light when we’re young, but also because of our talent that took many months, even years, to publish.
More Experience: Everything you do in your teen years will impact your future. Let’s say you finally think you’re comfortable enough to query an agent, making that bold leap at an aim for traditional publishing, after rolling out a book or two a year before taking a chance at something new. This gives you experience! You’ve learned the market well-enough to attempt a change and you’re ready to pursue one. Agents will notice your past works and effort in your early years, slightly upping your chances for the breakthrough you’ve always wanted. Aside from self-pub to trad-pub, technology is another big factor. Our familiarity with technology gives us a huge advantage and a lot of experience with marketing and publicity. Our generation has grown up living with a technological edge—and we have that benefit to boost our success in the long run.
More Support: If you’re starting early, you have more time to grow, yet also more time to fail. You’ll also have more time to build supporters and fans. When you get that book deal in your 20’s, you could already have a whole team of supporters promoting and buying the heck out of your catalog. These people will be ones that stay by your side from the beginning to the next chapter. As a Teen Author, you’ll be viewed as prolific and maybe even a fluke. You’ll be praised and criticized. Known but not easily forgotten. Of course there are downsides to being so young in the publishing industry, and people might remind you of that often, but there are plenty of advantages, too. We are the next generation. We are living in a time of new possibilities and new heights. So, start early. Make a name for yourself. Continue honing your skills. The rest is history.
McCaid Paul is the 15-year-old author of The Forgotten Headline and its sequel, Secret Trust. He lives on a farm in rural Northwest Florida. He enjoys hiking, traveling, and spending time with family. In first grade, McCaid learned to journal, which developed into a love of writing. McCaid is an avid fan of anything crime or mystery. You can check him out on his website at mccaidpaulbooks.com, on Twitter @MccaidP, Instagram @mccaidpaul, Facebook @MccaidP, and on Goodreads.