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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Stereotypes Against Young Authors

The New York Times posted an article on the front page of their newspaper on March 31. I found that the article set up certain stereotypes against me and others like me. While many teen authors are relying on their parents for financial support, not all are. I myself payed for every aspect of the publishing process. If I had no money, I always payed my parents back. With enough stereotypes out there already about young writers, I felt that I had to do something. So...I sent this letter to Elissa Gootman, the writer of the article.


* * *


Hello, I read your article on self-published young authors, posted march 31st, today, and found myself, well... A little envious. I myself am a teenage author, and although I am sure you have gotten a few other emails from other young authors like me, I hope that you can read mine, and see my story as something different from those others that have contacted you, and those you sponsored in your recent article. I hope to give you something to think about.

To get to the point, as I'm sure you don't want to read my life story, I DID self-publish, but I payed the prices, at 200 dollars, myself, earning the required money after selling my own books! My parents were always there for support and editing, but did not pay a penny in my publication. This helped teach me valuable lessons, like money management, and hard work. Perhaps unlike Ben Heckmann, those 200$, compared to his 250$ got me in print, and eBook format in over 8 of the largest eBook retailers in the world. I have sold around 300 copies of my book so far, and has been out since last August, less than a year! My book has earned me the title of being one of the Top 50 Authors in my entire state! (Idaho). I was also chosen this year as my state's Student of the Year by the PTA.

As for the question you posed in your article "Paying to Get Your Child's Book Published", as to whether or not self publishing children's books is a good idea or not, my personal belief is YES! ...for the most part. I believe the book should show some merit, and definitely be able to compete with books written by adults, as my book, along with others, has. I found the comment about an Obligitory trophy at the end of a soccer game both true and stinging. However, you have to ask yourself, how many kids play sports?

The answer...well, a lot. :) most children, I would say, have played a sport. Then, how many kids end up writing a book that could potentially compete with books written by adults? Not many. In fact, rarely does a kid do this! I believe that, yes, DEFINITELY a child should be rewarded for doing such a feat! Again, only IF the book can compete with the adult world. If not, I don't believe it should be published. Self-publishing should be used carefully. This goes for adults, too. If the literary quality of any book isn't any good, it has no right being in the market, I'd say. To those kids that definitely have good quality writing, I believe they have just as much of a right to be in the industry as Suzanne Collins and James Patterson! Not all books will meet the standard set by these authors books, as is apparent with Adult-written books and teen-written books Alike.

All the same, I do not believe parents should pay for their children to get published, just because they want their little darling to feel good about themselves. I have found that if you value something, you can save up and get it. Using money earned from selling my book, I have been able to purchase the new iPad. If the young writers in question truly want to get published, and have the merit to succeed, I also believe they should pay for their own publication. It would give the author a better image than to tell people, my mommy and daddy payed to publish my book.

I love the fact that I can tell people I wrote and published my book on my own. The only part my parents payed in the entire writing and publication process was editing, which is, of course, necessary.

Again, I really hope that I gave you something to think about and consider. I found parts of your articles assuming kids were all published by their parents, somewhat stinging. I believe that I am a definite exception to this stereotype.



Becki Badger said...

Thank you for publishing this, because it got me fired up to actually FINISH my book, which is so close! :) Keep up the good work, and congratulations on your rank in your state!

Oliver said...

Thanks so much for the comment! Thanks for the congratulations, but, the point of me publishing this was simply to get my point across. The fact that inspired a fellow writer to go and finish a book is...astounding! I am honored to have inspired you that way! Don't give up! You can do it! Keep at it! :)

Lily J. said...

Thanks for writing this! I saw that article a few weeks ago and it made me mad. Not the whole thing of course, but that one quote about kid dentists and architects did. As my dad pointed out, a badly written novel cannot kill anyone (unless it's used as a murder weapon), whereas bad dentistry and architecture have the potential to kill.
Ah well, their lack of confidence in teen writers only makes me more determined to finish and publish my novel.
Oh, and it's soo cool that you paid for your publishing yourself! Agreed that it teaches good lessons.

Oliver said...

Yes, there's actually a feedback post for the article that made me write this big, nasty letter, too!It was also by the same writer. I'm not so much of a fan of hers...

The comments by adults and kids alike were apalling and horrifying! So many people were against the idea it made me sick! I had to do something about it, and so I did. It may not have affected much in their world, but I am so glad to see that it has at least inspired other writers as well.

There was another one on another website that made me sick to my stomach...worse than this one. It said that teen writers should be encouraged, but not really published. (!!) they said that we lack experience, etc., etc. the thing that ticked me off, (and set me laughing) the most was...the whole thing was riddled with spelling, grammar, and formatting mistakes! Published on a professional news website, too. But, really, if you're going to get onto people about not having experience, show that YOU have some! Made me angry, and made me lose a few "hope in humanity" points. Oh well...:P

Lily J. said...

I didn't read the comments to the article. I was too ticked off.

Oh my gosh! Encouraged but not published? Geez. Sometimes I wonder if that generation of writers feels threatened by the fact that we're practicing so early, so by the time we're their age we're really good writers. And the grammar mistakes? That's just too funny.

The good part is we get to prove them wrong by writing great stories :)

Oliver said...

:) That is a good, (and probably true) way to put it!

Yes, agreed! Let's write some killer stories to prove them wrong! :D

Bruce said...

From what I have observed, the more attention you pay to these people who deride or degrade certain individuals, the more they are apt to repeat it. Probably they like the attention it gets them and they likely know that it will upset enough people so they can set up an argument, and play it back and forth as long as there is someone around to argue with. The best thing you can do is to ignore it and like you said, prove them wrong. If you waste emotional energy on them instead of your writing projects, I think it hurts you more. Just keep on growing in your writing life and have fun!

Oliver said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Bruce! That probably is (sadly) true. I have definitely not been looking for these kinds of things since then, and I do plan on taking your advice seriously. Thanks again, Bruce!

Zara Hoffman said...

I would just like to say this is one of the most genuine, well-written pieces on us (the younger generations) publishing in a world where there's so much prejudice against Young Authors. Write on! And I'll definitely buy The Dreamers, and once I finish it, I'll definitely write you a review! And, thank you for the help you've offered me on Twitter, I will definitely be asking more questions in the future as I near my self-publication debut. Thanks so much, and again, great article!

Oliver said...

Thank you, Sara! I really appreciate your thoughts, and can't wait to hear what you think about my book. I'll always be just a tweet away! :)

Anonymous said...

This is actually....really, really cool. Keep up the good work, kid. And I feel comfortable calling you kid because we're the same age.

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