Friday, February 4, 2011

Marisa's Fantastical Friday's
On Querying Before You're Ready

Teen writers talk about querying all the time. Much more than I expected to see when I began to join writing sites. I've even been asked multiple times if I plan on querying. The answer: Yes, but not for a long, long time!

I know that I have a long way to go before I even think that any of my work is publishable. I mean, I'm only fifteen. There's so much to learn about writing, and I'm just at the beginnings of learning it all.

Us teens aren't the only ones who think we're ready for querying, when we aren't though. Many adults begin the process before their time. The fact is no matter how old we are, the rush we get when a manuscript is completed for the first time consumes us. We think that our masterpieces deserve to be published, and we're naive in thinking that agents will overlook any little flaws we may have. They'll cut us some slack, considering it's our first piece right? Wrong!

Do not rush into the querying process. Think of your manuscript as your baby. You take care of it and watch it develop and grow right before you. Think of the querying process as the college applications. You want your baby to be ready for it, for it to be developed enough. Parents don't send their 10 year olds off to college do they? It's the same situation with a young manuscript! One revision isn't enough. Edit, edit, edit! Have a couple people you trust read it as beta readers and offer advice. When you think it's the best you can make, look it over again. There's always something that can be changed.

But can I even query if I'm under eighteen?
Certainly you can. You aren't required to put your age into your query, which allows agents to look at the quality of your work before knowing how old you are. Unfortunately, in most cases the work isn't up to par. Think about it, it's hard enough for adults to snag an agent. For teens, the sad truth is that it's nearly impossible. Also, someone under eighteen can't sign a contract legally, so parents/legal guardians have to get involved, making some agents more hesitant to sign with you.

Why are you being so negative, Marisa?
It's not being negative, it's being realistic. I so wish it was easier for teens to get published. Believe me! But young writers who are new to it think that their work is the greatest, when it's honestly nowhere near ready.

I was one of those people. I began my first novel Dancing Through Life the summer I was thirteen and finished the first draft in December, the month of my fourteenth birthday. For us youngsters, we're so thrilled with simply the fact that we completed a novel, that we overlook flaws. When I submitted my book on InkPop in February, I got a major wake up call. I learned,

I edited, I revised (multiple times.) When it made Top 5 in July, I thought it was the best it could be. The editor who read it thought otherwise. Now, six months after receiving my review, I'm beginning a major rewrite.

I truly believe that our teen years are the time for us to experiment as writers. The fact that we're this passionate about writing at such a young age gives us an advantage, eh?

The Truth: As good as us teens think our writing is, and it may be fantastic for our young age, but it still has a long way to go before it's deemed worthy of publishing. Of course there are rare exceptions, but in most cases querying young only leads to rejection after rejection, and our confidence going downhill.

So for now, write write write! There's plenty of time for querying later, when you're older and have more experience. Focus on your joy of writing. Experiment with genres that are out of your comfort zone. Us teens don't even know all we're capable of yet. Figure that out first, and then you're on your way to being a successful writer.

On a final note, I read some tips from author Walter Dean Myers on the InkPop blog, and something he wrote struck me. He says this: "If, starting at the age of 14, you write two good pages per day for five days each week, you'll probably be rich and famous by the time you're 25. Okay, maybe 27."

Have you written your two pages today? What are you waiting for?


Andromeda said...

Hmm two pages. I see that as a challenge.
You're on! Uhm...self. I'm challenging myself. xD
I'm such a slow writer, cause I'm so ADHD I get distracted by everything on my computer: the internet or not.
I should really just start writing on paper.
I just did the math, and I probably won't even /finish/ this book (if I get my 100k word goal) until...My senior year. Bah. I'm a freshman. =.=;
Hopefully, I'll get alot of writing done this summer!

Kate Anders said...

Thanks for a fantastical friday Marisa! :D This is some very useful information.
I'm going to get right on the writing two pages a day thing!

SM Johnston said...

I think young or old, every writer has queried too early. I did. I got a full manuscript request and what I sent was not my best work. Needless to say I got a rejection. Fingers are crossed now I've done major revision someone else will ask for a full.