My History of Writing, Part II: Why Twelve-year-olds Should Not Be Allowed to Get Published

You might say this seems like a horrible piece of advice. Nobody should discourage children from writing. That is not my intention. All I would like to say is that I made a horrible mistake when I “published” my first book.

I was twelve years old when I finished my first manuscript. I had not thought it through at all. All I knew was that a new publishing house had been opened that accepted manuscripts written by children. Of course I, as an aspiring young writer, wanted to be part of that. I wrote this book, which I am not going to call by name, on the fly. That shows. Never did I take the time to write an outline. I knew the beginning and I knew how I wanted it to end. That was it. I just started writing and making up elements of the story in between. However, “elements” might not be the right word when speaking about 80 out of 82 pages. The book basically entailed a chain of random occurences. It was a fantasy novel, so I thought: why not? Now, however, I see I never had the plot in mind when writing it. Also, which is another part of my frustration, this thing was intended to be a children’s novel. Twelve-year-old me apparently thought children liked long-winded sentences, infinite descriptions and strongly academic language. Well, they don’t, and I know that now. Maybe I was a smart kid, but not smart enough to understand that other kids would not like my professor-like attitude.

The publishing company that accepted this creation should have seen that. Little did I know that they were not a publishing company. It was a printing-on-demand publisher, and they accepted anything unless it encouraged violence or was entirely unreadable. My book did neither, so it was deemed alright. Normally, the story would be over by now. POD publishers do not advertise their products… unless there is something special about them. There was something special about my book. I had started writing it as soon as I heard of this company and had finished doing so within two weeks. My manuscript was the first book published by them. They had to celebrate it.

My face ended up everywhere in the newspapers and on TV. This may sound like bragging, but as a shy kid, I did not enjoy this at all. People on the streets actually recognised me and asked when I was going to publish my next book. I never did. I could not do it anymore.

Nowadays, I am definitely not famous. Nobody recognizes me and I’m glad about that. I did not want that very first manuscript to get me on TV. I was not happy about it and I did not deserve it. If I am ever going to try and publish again, it will not be under my real name.

This is why I’m giving this advice, and I’ve heard it often before. They told me it was a bad idea, since I was going to be ashamed about the book in the long run. When I read it again after a few years, I definitely was. Books cannot be erased from the planet as long as someone owns them. Before trying to get accepted by any publishing house, whether it is POD or regular, think of the consequences. I am sure this is not true for everyone, but I surely wish I had listened to the adult writers who told me not to do it.

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2 thoughts on “My History of Writing, Part II: Why Twelve-year-olds Should Not Be Allowed to Get Published

  1. I wrote my first book (it would have been a novella really, at about 30-40 pgs.) when I was thirteen. I’m very happy that there was no such thing as POD or eBooks back then. I think my one difference was that when I started high school I looked at it again and thought “Wow, that’s terrible.” And then I wrote another book. And then in college I looked at that one and thought “That’s not publishable.” And then I wrote another one.

    All I can say is they kept getting better and better. And now that one from college is out, and I’m proud of it. It took some MAJOR editing. But I’m still proud of it. Good luck!

    • I guess POD publishers are one of the disadvantages of being born in 1995, but I know I have to keep trying. Editing sure is one of the main parts of that. It is hard, but the outcome should be worth it.
      Thank you very much!

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