Nathan Bransford, Author

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Young Writers

I have been getting an astoundingly high number of queries from novelists under 18 lately. What was once a steady trickle has now turned into a.... um, more steady trickle. I'm not sure why this is -- maybe because it's summer vacation? Maybe everyone wants to be the next Chrisopher Paolini? Maybe everyone had their XBox 360s taken away?

But for all the young writers out there -- here's the thing. You're up against people who are much older with much more experience, and you don't really get bonus points for being young. Sure, publishers would probably appreciate the marketing angle of a young writer with a great book, but you have to write that great book first. It's not, unfortunately, enough to write a book that's good for your age (and most of the young writers I hear from could easily beat the pants off of whatever drivel I wrote at that age) - you have to write a book that's as good as what the best adult writers in the country write, and they've been writing for years. That's really, really hard and really, really rare.

There is a silver lining -- Mary Shelley wrote FRANKENSTEIN at 18. S.E. Hinton wrote THE OUTSIDERS when she was 16 (I've seen a copy of S.E. Hinton's query letter in the Curtis Brown office -- gives you goosebumps!). About once a generation there is a prodigy who makes it happen. But it does happen!

Really though, I think the most curious phenomenon about young writers these days is that they are much less likely to send a personalized letter and to have read agent blogs or to be familiar with industry conventions. Come on now, teens! You're supposed to be teaching people to Google and laughing at your parents when they ask what a "blog" is.

So if you know a young writer, I would be honest with them about the realities of the business, but encourage them to keep writing (and point them to some industry blogs). The best thing is that young writers turn into adult writers with a world of experience.


MLM said...


Can you post a copy of that S.E. Hinton query letter, or is that against policy?

Nathan Bransford said...


I don't have a copy, unfortunately. And yes, I'd have to get Ms. Hinton's approval and it's a busy day!

dr. love said...

My Xbox 360 is the reason I'm not published yet. But I'm not under 18, so that's not a good excuse.

Scott said...

I was still in high school when I sent my first query. I wrote a picture book, had a friend illustrate it with his pencil drawings, and sent off to one publisher, who, of course, rejected it. Then I gave up.

I wish I still had a copy of that query letter. I don't remember it at all. I'd like to see it so I could scream with much-belated embarrassment and then burn it.

The story still holds a nice place in my heart for being my first attempt at publication (unless you count the one-para essay published by my local paper when I was about 7 or 8), but I wouldn't have published it either. I mean, it ends with the main character getting eaten alive.

I've learned a lot since then. I hope.

Anyway, I admire kids who write novels at that age, when most of their peers groan about having to write 500 words. Any teen who can complete a full novel deserves a medal and a ton of praise, and lots of encouragement to keep writing so that someday, when they've gotten really good, they'll have the experience and know-how to blow the rest of the market out of the water.

Unfortunately, rejection is especially hard at that age, when it happens all the time, even if they do something amazing for their age. I fear that too many taste that first rejection and quit when what they've really done is given themselves a head start that rocket them to success in another five to ten years, or twenty or thirty, whatever it takes to become great.

So, any kids who do read this: keep writing, keep submitting, keep learning how to deal with rejection and learn from it, and hopefully someday I'll see you at the top of the bestseller lists.

Anonymous said...

'You have to write a book that's as good as what the best adult writers in the country write, and they've been writing for years.'

Isn't that the same for all budding adult writers, as well? They haven't had years and years of experience. Does this mean that they're better equipped to enter the publishing world than a teen?

And the bit about agent's blogs? There are plenty of adult writers who don't read blogs, either.

The same rules that apply to teen writers apply to adult writers: they need to be able to write, they need to do research, and they need to be aware of the business. Just as many adults are clueless as their underage counterparts.

Scott said...

>Just as many adults are clueless as
>their underage counterparts.

Anonymous is dead on with this, I'm sure.

If anything's more embarrassing than that first teenage query, it's the first query I wrote (much too soon) after "finishing" my first novel about five years ago.

Unfortunately, I remember that query all too well...

Nathan Bransford said...


Actually, what I was trying to point out is that teenage writers tend to be more, well, clueless (your words not mine!) than the average adult writer. Maybe they lack of those years of experience, but I would have thought that their familiarity with technology would have translated to more familiarity with industry blogs and the information you can find online, but I haven't found that to be the case. I guess it wasn't what I was expecting.

Of course, another funny thing is that the average teenager who writes me is BETTER than the average adult writer. Unfortunately this hasn't translated into a teenage client (the average writer, after all, is still a no).

Anonymous said...

'Actually, what I was trying to point out is that teenage writers tend to be more, well, clueless (your words not mine!) than the average adult writer.'

This is Anon 11:34 again.

Oh, definitely. The average adult writer has spent much more time getting to know the industry than the average teenage writer. It's the whole being-alive-longer thing. They've had more time to research, craft, and study.

However, as a teenaged (unpublished, boo-hoo) writer myself, I have to say that I know some incredible teenaged writers. Usually they're published, if only by small publishers. This seems to be because of lack of experience, as well. The ones I've talked to said they didn't know about literary agents.

As for me, I was a total publishing newbie until I came across Miss Snark's blog, and got my bottom handed to me in the Crapometer. Since then, I've been studying, crafting, and researching.

I was just trying to point out that age is not the only variable. :)

Nathan Bransford said...


It just goes to show why it's so hard to talk about "averages" in publishing -- there are so many exceptions like you!

Anonymous said...

I write YA, so I'm loathe to criticize the teens, but perhaps the reason they haven't researched industry blogs is because they don't want or feel they need to take the time to do their homework. I see the same kind of thing in the recent college grads I meet in job interviews. They want to start out at salaries made by people with years more experience, and they balk when asked to put in the grunt work that the rest of us had to do.

Anonymous said...

Haha, it's nice to be considered an exception. :)

'Perhaps the reason they haven't researched industry blogs is because they don't want or feel they need to take the time to do their homework.'

I see this attitude all the time in my peers. They have preconceived notions about how things SHOULD go, and therefore don't spend the time to find out how they WILL go.

It's disheartening, but hopefully we'll get better at it.

And to address the technology issue: I think that while my generation enjoys technology, we use it far too often to watch funny videos on YouTube, instead of using it to educate ourselves. I think that older folks have embraced the internet in a better way, using it as a tool to better communication and education, rather than as a way to get a cheap laugh.

Also, I've noticed that we tend to shy away from research of any kind. I think it's a tendency that stems from the fact that many of us believe that we're the newest Picasso or Einstein or whatever, and so we don't take the time to think about the people that came before us.

Remember how you were as a teenager? You knew everything, right? And then you hit 25 and you realized that you didn't know squat. This mentality, that is held by most of my peers, is the reason why we have the reputation that we do. It's a great disservice to ourselves, but at least we'll grow out of it. Or, most of us will.

georgie said...

I happened upon a local teen writers meeting at a B&N. It was being held in the cafe, so while I sipped my coffee, I eavesdropped.

These young writers were all pretty sharp, and all into their writing, spending what seemed to me to be huge amounts of time writing rather than almost anything else. Maybe this is why they aren't familiar with the "rules."

Scott said...


>And then you hit 25 and you realized
>that you didn't know squat.

And then you hit 40 and realize you didn't know squat at 25, but you're no longer as brash and experimental as you were at 25.

Magical things happen in the arts at around 25. Actually, 24 seems like the magic number. That's the age when Orson Welles did "Citizen Kane" and Brian Wilson did "Pet Sounds." I don't know of a literary equivalent, but I'm sure there is one.

I've wondered what it is about that age, and whether somebody who's well past it can recapture it. You think you know it all in your teens, wait until your twenties, when you not only know it all but think you have control of your world and can bend it to your will, and that you can tell the rest of the world how it should be.

Maybe it's the confidence that comes with "having figured everything out" and the gutsiness that comes along with the new independence you have around that age, or a little before.

Kind of annoying at times to those of us who've already gone through it, but the age really does seem to have a special something when it comes to the arts.


Gotta tell you: Your blog is giving me some much needed air as I pop up for a breath from some intense deadline pressure at work this week. Good topics and the best participants in the LitBlog world! Thanks!

Richard said...

Your mention of Hinton might be instructive. Granted, she wrote some incredibly popular (and good) YA novels as a youngster, but would you give her as an example of someone who's had a long, productive publishing career?

Of American writers who first published as teens, off the top of my head I can think of only Gore Vidal and Joyce Maynard.

When I published my first book in 1979 at the age of 27, a number of the reviews commented on what they perceived as my extraordinary youth. And when my publisher got the photo I'd had taken for the back cover, they decided not to run it because they said I "looked too babyish, only about 22" and "nobody will take the book seriously if they think it's by a kid."

It would be interesting to see the ages when either bestselling authors or acclaimed literary writers published their first books.

Nathan Bransford said...


S.E. Hinton has absolutely had a long, productive publishing career! And yes, it is interesitng to see when people got their start.

A Paperback Writer said...

Well, I'm an English teacher, so I get to encourage kids to write all the time.
Plus, I tell them all about the process I'm going through trying to get published. They know now that queries must be multiple, the revisions may seem endless, and the waiting periods are really long -- even when you're over 18.
They have my blog address and links to you and the now-dark Miss Snark and others. Interested kids read my blog and love to be beta readers for my manuscripts.
Part of education is the technology side too, and teachers know that. I'm the only teacher at the school who writes as well, but the kids learn how to make webpages in class and learn the value of networking out of class (hey, myspace is the rage). Those who want to write but aren't my students come and ask about the writing blogs and agent sites.
It is happening.
So, writers who aren't teachers: lots of you are in critique groups and such, spread the word to teens how to learn the way we all learn online. Some great undiscovered writers are blossoming somewhere, but we'll never get to read their stuff if they don't learn how to query.

Dave said...

This is the first generation (the under 20 crowd) who grew up with computers and the internet. Their parents didn't have both.

Add in Harry Potter, Add in the last three Star Wars, Add in countless stories that they are exposed to, and this generation feels it can write and they have the opportunity to do so.

Miri said...

Do these kids/teens/young'uns actually put their age in their query? That strikes me as rather unprofressional: "Look at me! I'm 15! I have a 106 in English! Wheee!"

Even I know better than that.

Though a 106 in English is nothing to sneeze at.

I'd like to add to what Scott said about what teens need to do, though: join a critique group. When I did NaNoWriMo for the first time in 2005, I was so thrilled that I put it through our new group of NaNo authors right away.

That day I learned how to scribble productive-looking things in my notebook while trying with all my might to take everything they were saying to heart without feeling offended, attacked, or depressed. As a twelve-year-old, that's hard. It really is. But it did me a world of good. And sometime soon I'll be going back to that book and polishing it and getting ready to start the submission process, because I so want to learn. My group said it had potential; I'm finally getting around to believing them.

Thick skins are best developed early, I think.

Heidi the Hick said...

THE OUTSIDERS opened up my brain! Especially when I found out that SHE was ONLY 16 when she wrote it! That's the first time I read something and decided that it either made me want to write something that good, or never write again because it couldn't be that good.

It took me another twenty years to talk myself into writing for real. I've spent two years in regret that I didn't write steadily for so long but I'm over it now. I've got two kids who can wipe their own noses now, and I've had time to get better at putting words together.

There are two teens in my writers group. I have told them both to write something every day, even if it's just one sentence. There are always contests for young writers and even some lit magazines aimed at a teen audience. I'm looking forward to seeing what these kids come up with!

Ryan said...

I have no interest in becoming the next Christopher Paolini. He's known more for the fact that he wrote a book at age 15, not because he wrote a particularly good book. That kind of notoriety is not what I would want.

I'm torn between being annoyed at being generalized and nodding in assent to the generalization. There ARE the rare finds who have genuine talent and voice at 18, but a good 97% still need work. (And 97% is generous. Very generous.)

The problem is making the writing stand out on its own. I don't want to be told I'm good for an 18 year old; I want to be told I'm good. I suppose when that happens I'll know that I'm where I want to be as a writer.

sex scenes at starbucks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sex scenes at starbucks said...

These young writers were all pretty sharp, and all into their writing, spending what seemed to me to be huge amounts of time writing rather than almost anything else.

Which is what they should be doing rather than studying markets they have nearly no chance at getting into. Take the time, while you've got it, to practice your craft. The other will come soon enough.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

I met SE Hinton in elementary school, and later wrote a novel closely based on the OUTSIDERS. My first. I stil have it on the shelf behind me.

urbansherpa said...

The main thing young writers lack is experience. Give 'em a few years and they'll have that, too if they don't get waylaid by life.

I love your blog, Nathan. I bet you're an awesome agent!

Subservient No More said...

When I was 16 I wrote a book of the absolute most horrific poetry imaginable and I thought it was utter genius. I sent it to a publisher of poetry who shall go unnamed and in my cover letter I made sure to be very humble and explain that I was only 16. A few weeks later I received a gigantic box on my doorstep with a very long personalized letter from the editor. The letter said "You have talent and fire." Then it told me to keep writing and no matter what to never stop until I got it right. The editor said I needed to live life and practice writing and that he was sure one day I would be successful. Inside the box were about 25 books of poetry - all different writers and genres. The editor told me I needed to read all of them over and over and learn from the great poets.

Seventeen years later I still repeat those words "talent and fire" whenever I feel discouraged. I'm still rereading the books he sent.

It's really important to gently encourage and inspire young writers, and I'm really happy to hear that so many teens are actually trying to write seriously and send queries.

DMH said...

To S. No More,

What an incredibly generous gesture you received from that editor.

Wow, S.E. Hinton's query letter! I would love to read that!

Richard said...

Nathan, I'll defer to your greater knowledge -- since S.E. Hinton is a client of your firm -- but I think that her reputation rests a lot more on her pre-1980 novels (The Outsiders; That Was Then, This Is Now; Rumble Fish and Tex rather than the five books she has published since 1988 (after a nine-year gap): Taming the Star Runner; Big David, Little David; The Puppy Sister; Hawkes Harbor and Some of Tim's Stories. And I'd suspect sales of the first four books outstrip sales of the last five books by at least ten to one.

Anonymous said...

When I was a young writer it was not common for us to look at agents' blogs either. Of course that's because there were no agent blogs back then.

I did complete my first draft of my first book when I was under 18. 15 million drafts later it still hasn't been published, but I think I'm getting close now.

AWP :)

Mary said...

Can we add Ned Vizzini to the list of teen prodigies? Prodigy might be a little strong, but he certainly is very talented, smart, and was published while still a teenager.

Anonymous said...

I think one of the reasons that these young writers don’t know much about the publishing biz’s internet factions is that they just weren’t taught about it. This particular age-group has been taught about technology by teachers who, for the most part, know less about working computers and the internet than they do. If their teachers aren’t guiding them to these places, then who or what will? And, if it’s all internet-based, then how is anyone who’s not fluent in netspeak supposed to act as a guide?

The last I was taught or told about publishing were anecdotes about the process of sending your physical manuscript off to a bunch of different publishers. I’m still fairly clueless about current publishing practices, but it’s taken me a lot of googling to get even to this stage of ignorance!

But, besides that, S.E. Hinton is a fabulous, fantasical, writing goddess. Her new writings might not be as popular, sales-wise anyway, but that's probably because she's switched genres and audiences (a bunch o' times) and she took a very long break - which I am glad to see end!

ryan said...

Anonymous-- I think you're underestimating teenagers, and our knowledge of the Internet, a little bit. We weren't taught by teachers how to use the Internet, we pretty much taught ourselves.

Anonymous said...

This is anon 6:36

Nah, that's basically what I meant, albeit, a little snarkily. I meant that, in my experience at least, the teachers who are supposed to be teaching with technology actually know less about using the internet than the kids who are supposed to be learning. I know there are exceptions, so I mean no disrespect to teachers either! But, just because a person (say, me) knows how to use the internet at warp speed, does not mean that they know immediately where to look on the internet for publishing info. There's a lot of unhelpful stuff amidst the helpful sites (like this one - thanks). It'd be nice if we could get direction to the good info from teachers, but, if you're not from a net-savvy generation, I can understand how it would be hard to guide people to this info.

I do hope this made more sense than my last post. (And I call myself a writer...sorry!)

Richard said...

For a sample of the age of first publication of some well-known novelists, I took the top 5 from the current Times bestseller list in fiction and 5 recent National Book Award winners in fiction, for a mix of "commercial" and "literary" novelists. Here's the results, according to Wikipedia, from youngest to oldest at first publication:

28: William T. Vollman, Richard Powers
29: James Patterson, James Lee Burke, Jonathan Franzen
30: Susan Sontag
31: Nora Roberts
32: Shirley Hazzard
36: Daniel Silva
38: Khaled Hosseini

Anonymous said...

Let's say I'm a 13 year old who has written a 300-page young adult novel that I believe is as good as any you can find in the genre. Do you think it is better to hide my age from agents until they've taken me under their wing, or to tell the agent up front?
Would you say: "Oh, he's a 13-year-old. How well could he write? I'll just tell him to wait a few years."
Or would you give the person a chance and read the sample material like it was from an adult?
That's what I'm pondering, better if it's the former, then I think it would be better to keep my age from the agent.

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

December/Stacia said...

*gasp* S.E. Hinton's query letter?

The Outsiders literally changed my life. I think I would probably cry.

Kold_Kadavr_flatliner said...

All our lives we must make choices, left or right, up or down, what we mortals believed through our lifelong demise:

“A must read if youse wanna live” -Father Sarducci, SNL

God bless.

Anonymous said...

what would you say to those kids (like myself) who all their life all they wanted was to publish about. And I don't mean they're bad writers I mean they really can write! the only thing from stoping me is I never seen to be able to finish a book! I've started like...300-350. And I'm not jocking!

Anonymous said...

What about a teen writing a YA book? It seems to me that a teen would have more experience if writng about the social hierarchy of high school or something similar.

Meggie said...


I am a teenager, and I HAVE written a YA Paranormal Romance novel-no, its not like Twilight-and I have been reading your blog continuously nonstop for the past few nights and as well as The Swivet because I would really like to query Ms. Lindsay, but on her blog she reccomended reading your blog for good advice before anyone queried her.

I am a bit confused by you placement on the subject of whether or not you DO represent teenage writers though, and I DO know already that you dont represent category romance but you do represent YA novels. I am extremely interested in quering you as well, but i was wondering if you would still consider my manuscript even though it falls under the romance category, and despite my adolescence.

Anonymous said...

Just a question-- If a teen writer is querying an agent, should he mention his age in the query?

sam said...

im thirteen and my passion is writing. i spend tons and tons of my time doing it, and i have always wanted to publish a novel. ive actually finished one now, and its really good. but i dont know what the next step is... how do u get published?

Anonymous said...


Have you really gone through and edited your manuscript? Have you been told by people that it is in the best possible condition? If so then the first thing you need to do is write something called a query letter. You can find information about how to do that online or in a bookstore. When you have crafted an excellent letter send it out to agents that are looking for manuscripts in your genre. Then you wait to here back from them. If you get an offer of representation they will help you find a publisher. It is a long process. If you are lucky and you are persistent a publisher may make an offer. Either way keep writing!

Anonymous said...

I am currently writing a story, but secretly. My best friend and I are constantly brainstorming during lessons, specially Latin!
The plot is quite complicated.
it's about a 14 yr old who gets an arranged marriage. The story is how she learns to accept it, witha few laughs along the way. At the end, I am currently planning to make the young girl fall in love with her fiancee. I ahve written bout 35 pges so far...not much, i know, but she has only just met him!!!

Thomas said...

dear Anon
I think that is a great storyline! No matter what, carry on writing. That is just the kind of book a school kid like you should be writing.
Keep us posted!

Anonymous said...

thank you Thomas.
itz quite a coincidence, but my main charactz name iz also Thomas.

Shelby said...

Ok, so I am 14 right now, and I have a (Pretty much) completed YA novel. I am currently writing the third draft, and it keeps getting better- in my opinion.

I have had all my friends and my sister look at it, and they said it was written like a real book- and is sort of simiar to Gossip Girl, though for a tiny bit younger readers, and a complete differnt plot- all I mean is it is written similar.

I have researched different agnecies and publishers, and have writtne a few different Query letters.

But what I'm asking is two things: Do you think I even have a chance so young, and should I mention my age?

Nova said...

Hey, a friend and I have recently completed our first full-length 'novella' and we've researched the whole publishing process, right from finding an agent to seeing your book on the shelf.
However, we do seem to be lacking those infinitesimally small details, and we really don't want to be looked down upon by publishers or agents because of our ages (12 and 14).
If you've the time and patience, could you possibly give us any advice? I know you're in the US and all, (we're in the UK) but I'm guessing it's roughly the same process.
Many thanks ;)

DSR22 said...

I am a teenage writer and I am currently researching agents that I could send my YA fantasy-adventure novel to.

Would you recommend mentioning my age in a query? Does that draw desirable attention, or should I just let my writing speak for itself?

Meova said...

Hi Nathan,

First of all, I wanted to let you know that your blog is awesome. Might sound like sucking up, but yeah. It really is good, and a great help to me, so thanks for that!
Secondly, about the young writers - it's mostly just lack of knowledge, really. Many people on my forum or my friends write, just like myself, and all we (used to) know is that we send our stuff to a publisher when it's finished. (Mind you, most people I know who write are only 13/14 and write like 24/7. The only other thing they do on the computer is hang around on my forum. I'm 16, by the way. Yes, I'm sure you had to know that.)
We're young, we think we know everything, and thus we don't feel the need to research it. However, your blog tells us exactly what to do so I'll spread the word, lol xD
The 'we' in my comment is aimed at my writing friends and me, by the way, I'm not assuming everyone is the same.

- Meova

Idil Hussein said...

Hi, My name is Idil Hussein, and I have been looking for ANYONE who is interested in my writing.
Which is hard, seeing how I'm only 13 and I just moved to the Middle East.
And yes, I am utterly clueless about publishing and the like. So I was wondering if you could go out on a limb and give me a few pointers.
Here's a sample of my writing.

Anonymous said...

Nathan -
Let me get straight to the point. I'm fourteen. I came here looking for query help, which I received, thank you, but also stumbled upon this post, which, concerning my age, I absolutely had to check out. Now, I am a little unsure if I'm ready, but I think that the "older, experienced authors" couldn't have possibly gotten experienced if they hadn't started somewhere. So I'm starting right here and I'll get my rejection letters early on and get used to it and I'll write and learn. I've written three novels and want to get my latest one published. But I'm unsure if I should include my age in the query letter - as someone else had mentioned - might bias the agent. I want to be treated equally, just like the adults. Tell me the good and the bad, but don't tell me I'm too young. So, basically, I was wondering that if I don't include my age, and the agent asks for a partial and then agrees to represent me, then I might be lying to him/her? I don't want to start off a business relationship badly. Thanks.

Wings said...


first and foremost I love your blog. It is one of the easiest to read around and it covers so much in detail.

Age goes against those that are young in everything that requires experience.

But I think that those that have the drive and the maturity level to be able to handle the publishing world shouldn't feel discouraged because of their age. As someone said before, just don't flaunt it.

I was wondering what age you have to be, realistically to be taken seriously in the publishing world.

Percy Nuglet said...

"One day, I was playing Wii tennis and then I did a 360º wipe-out when I swung too hard. I was pretty much falling at like 200,000 mph when I landed on my mom's coffee table. My leg started throbbing (I bruise like a peach) and I was crying for like a legit 30 minutes before my mom came home and gave me ice. But during that time, I had something which we humans call an "epiphany". I decided that life is short, and I only have on legit non-bruised leg left, so if I mess-up that one I'm toast for prom. But anyways, I realized that I wanted to do something wicked legit with my life, so I decided to write this book.

I'd say my book is a mixture of "Air Bud" meets "Saw" meets "50 First Dates" meets "Hamlet".

It starts off with an orphan named Robot, which is good because one of the major themes of the book is irony, and it's ironic because the orphan is a human not a robot. He thinks his parents have been dead, but then a mysterious man in a black clock gives him a mysterious bag of beans. The beans all of have stuff written on them in Latin. The orphan, who's now 21 and has legally changed his name to Ralph, realizes that the beans spell out "Go To The Well", so he goes there with his girlfriend, who's a legit robot. So they're going to this well, and then Ralph starts bleeding, but he notices his blood is made of gold. "Why is this?" Ralph asks. Well reader, do you know? You'll only find out if you read the book! (And if I finish it).

I don't have many credentials, unless you count street cred cause I totally messed up some middle schooler's face last week for trying to steal my ipod. Here's my report card though:
English: A
Latin: C- (whatever ... it's a dead language anyways)
Gym: A -
History: B +
Geometry: D+ (my teacher's a n00b)

I've written like 30 pages but it will be 300 pages if I times 10 the font or just write more. It's not very much, but that's OK since I'm 16. I've got a long way to go, but I think I'm pretty much there. I'm wicked advanced, and like I said before, I'm just 16.

I only have 30 pages now, but once my parents leave next weekend and I can drink more red bull expect about 30 more!"

^^^^^ And there you have it, my best parody of a young writer trying to sell a novel.

I'm a 16 year old writer myself, so I guess you can say it's hypocritical to be writing this. But then again, the majority of writers my age have novels that aim far too high for what they can accomplish at that age.

There are certain topics/genres which I think young writers (the right ones, of course) can do, and can do well.

Nathan, I sincerely apologize if you ever receive a query quite like this. If you haven't, there are probably agents who have. Those poor things.

percy nuglet said...

^^^ Percy Nuglet, aka that guy who wrote that interesting parody up there, can be reached at, if you would like to talk to him for any reason.

Fashion_Girl_93 said...

I'm 16 and from Washington, England, I have wanted to be a writer since I was about, 5? Maybe younger, ever since my dad made up stories for me on a night!
Well, anyways, its great to see some advice for writers out age, I haven't been able to find much advice for young writers anywhere on the web.
At the min I am working on a novel, its all planned and I'm taking my time over it. For me writing, has always been escapism, I have had articles and stories published in magazines and regional newspapers and I'm sure one day I'll have a full novel published, but for now I'm just enjoying the fact I'm young enough to have the time to write for the fun of it! :-)

Kanen said...

So, I just spent an hour reading through all these comments. Mr. Bransford, your post depressed me. I am a teenage writer. I am currently writing a fantasy novel about an assassin. And I know I'm not the best, but I'm getting better. You have no idea how much better my writing has gotten over the year. So, for all you teens posting on here, I have some advice. Join critique groups. I have joined many online, and I can tell you they help. They have really helped me improve my writing. Here's some links:

So, like I said, these sites help. I can't say I know what I will do once I finish my novel, just that I plan to. And I plan to get published. I may even consider sending a query to you, Mr. Bransford. I truly wish that our society could get out of this mist of ageism that seems to surround every single agent and publisher.

Tigers Eyes said...

I'm 12, and I've been writing since I was about 8. I wrote my first 'novel' then. It was trash. Yes. I know. Now I still write and do YWP NANOWRIMO.
in my opinion, a budding adult author would have the same problems ans a young one, thought some will be different.
Well, instead of nattering on, let me get to the point. I know the problems of trying to be first time published as i'm sure other teens/preteens know as well. Anyway, I've been looking for an agent who accepts kids.
Nobody seems to mention it. Any help is great and by the way Nathan? I LOVE your blog!!!
(and now I've probably bored you to death. Sorry for bumping up what I think might be and old post)

Hannah said...

I think some of you are being harsh on under 18s, we do read up on publishing, I have read numerous sites and the writers and artists yearbook etc and would say I began my research at the age of about 11, because I have always wanted to be a novelist I have always been researching it.
As to telling agents your age, I have written twice to literary agents, the first time I was twelve and they told me with more experience they were sure I would be published, the second time I was fifteen and they told me I had writing talent and that I wrote well beyond my years but that the story plot wasn't write for the market. Whether they were just being nice because of my age I couldn't tell you...
I have considered that when I have taken more time on redrafting my current work, instead of taking the plunge as soon as I'm finished like the last time I might not mention my age, but then, my age is as a part of me as everything else and honesty is the best policy isn't it...? I don't see it as unproffesional, but just part of the biographical information all writers are supposed to give along with their query.

Sunlight Shadows said...

Okay, I'm seriously so jealous. S. E. Hinton is my biggest writing hero.

That being said... I think part of the reason other teen writers don't hang around the blogs and forums is they don't realize how valuable and, maybe moreso, how fun they can be. It's the highlight of my day to come home from school and slip into a cyber-world where everyone is as obsessed with books as I am, and won't patronize you when your writing needs work. It took me a while to realize the blog-surfing and researching agents was more than obligation, more than homework or a sacrifice I had to make to boost my chances. It's fun. It's recharges my creativity, doing something productive. And I think most authors who participate also feel this way; I read often that blogging just for publicity really isn't worth it, you have to like it, too.

I'm sixteen, by the way, and realize the novel I'm currently trying to get published will probably be the worst written novel of my career, if I have one. We all have to start somewhere.

Samantha G said...

I'm a teenager and I've written about three novels, each of about 400 pages. They all pretty much sucked and my fourth one looks to be heading the same way. There's no WAY I will ever even consider trying (and most likely failing) to get published until I'm much older and have written a book to top them all. That being said, I will continue writing hundreds of novel because I know with every word I write, I get better (hopefully.)

I'm fourteen by the way. I don't write because I want to get published, I write because I love it- and it's great that there's so many other teens doing the same thing.

But I noticed how a lot of the teens on this post seem to think they've written something amazing and, you know, nobel prize worthy (I'm not being harsh- I thought that about all my past books and will continue to do so for my future ones.) Writing only ever gets better with time, not worse. There's no rush and no race to see who gets to the finish line first.

I honestly think experience has nothing to do with the ability to write a book. There are so many kids who had been through what most adults could never even dream of. At the end of the day, it's about the quality of the book you write, not how old you are. Although some people think they have a correlation, they don't, they really don't.

Otherwise, you know, we wouldn't have any teen writers at all.

Anonymous said...

I'm fourteen and just finished the first draft of my first novel (and I'm well aware how many times I'll have to edit/revise). Sometimes, it can be a bit discouraging when I realize what I'm up against, but the silver lining is that I'll only get better. All of us will only get better. While it would be amazing to be the 'prodigy of the generation', I'll settle for getting published before I reach the age of eighty. That way, I don't put too much pressure on myself, and I can put a polish on my book before I even think about sending it to a publisher.
My comment got a little longer than I anticipated. Sorry about that; I just wanted tell people (if anyone is reading) my point of view and opinion.

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