Friday, August 21, 2009

Should young authors get published?

Personally I think that's kind of an odd question to ask. Why shouldn't they, right? If they're good enough, why not? But this article kind of refutes that, not to mention patronizes the writing of young authors a bit. Like that wouldn't be discouraging, right?

The argument is and always has been that young writers just don't have the chops to get published. Writing is one of the talents that as you grow and nurture it, it gets better. That's why most of the people published are adults, even in the YA market.

But the reality is, most people in general don't have the chops to get published. Just look at any agent's slush pile. Most people just don't have it. That fact isn't discriminatory against any particular age bracket. That runs straight across the board. With that being said, there are just as many publishable teen authors as there are adult authors. And when you submit to a slush pile, you are ageless unless you put that label on yourself.

Look, if the writer has something to offer, if what they're writing is publishable and has a place in the market, why deny it? But please, don't patronize it. I hated the tone of that Guardian article. I really did. It's like the author was just patting kids on the head, chuckling a little and sending them off with "good try, one day you'll be better." Yeah, because that's so much better than giving them constructive criticism on their writing, right? O_o How encouraging.

But I can't help but think when I see that 9-year-olds are getting book deals just who those books are for. Are they really for kids her age or they for adults who like kitsch and will get a good laugh at just how cute the book is? Again, I can't help but think that it would be patronizing and that it could kill any desire the girl has to write or draw.

Then again I can be a bit of a cynic.

You know what, if we can publish Stephenie Meyer's literary masturbation that more closely resembles the writing of a ten-year-old (but that's kind of insulting to ten-year-olds, isn't it?), why can't we publish a nine-year-old's comics or a teenager's book? Sure, until you've entered the "adult" world and gain some kind of perspective on life, your writing's going to be derivative. And the longer you work at something, the better you're going to get. But some people are just good. Who's to say those kids aren't those types of people? They're just that good at that early of an age while the rest of us must suffer into adulthood to master something they already have?

Why not? If Nicole Richie can get a book deal, why not a kid? I'm sure the kid's writing is better than that ghost writer's.

At the end of the day, you're ageless in the slush pile and all that matters is if your work will sell. No, most teens and kids don't have the chops to write a saleable book. And neither do most adults.

What do you think?


Shalonda said...

I agree. I once taught a sixth grader who I strongly feel could have had his works published at that age. I often wonder if he is still writing. He truly was amazing!


why could a kid write a book for other kids? i used to tell my little sister and the twins who became our step sisters stories all the time and they loved them. kids have wonderful imaginations. they may need an illustrator but so do some adults who write for kids. there are a lot of teens who have a lot of life experience that you might not have had that they could write about. and don't all writers have editors?

Donna said...

Editors are to fine tune, not hold hands. But the bottom line is not that kids should be allowed to publish because they, too, can tell stories (which is an entirely different beast from writing them, and writing them so they're salable), but that kids should be allowed to be published if their manuscript is up to snuff. If they're writing is on par with other published adults, then what does age have to do with it?

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