|"My mother thinks I should be published."|
I have had an awkward moment or two when I've been in schools and had teachers ask me how students can get their work published. I have to say, "I don't think students should be publishing." I did say awkward, right? A few years ago, I was in a school where kids told me their parents said they should be getting their writing published. That left me speechless, because we were in an auditorium where I felt it would be inappropriate to say, "Yeah. Your parents are wrong." It would probably be inappropriate for me to tell a fifth grader that anywhere.
Now I can refer people to a wonderful article by Jane Friedman
called Writing Advice for Children and Teens
. She covers many great points that I have often thought about, myself, and includes the words "Instead of publishing..."
Perhaps I'll create a student writing section at my website. A link to Friedman's Writing Advice for Children and Teens
could be the only thing there.
I have never read any student work that should be published, and this includes some that HAS!!! I also don't buy books by Youtubers. A lot of self published work would definitely benefit from more editing. I think this is why I'm leery of writing workshops and encouraging creative writing. Many students need to master grammar, syntax and language first!
They also need to gain a knowledge of what has already been written and published. They need to master the concept of "derivative." If they're interested in writing a genre, they need to read broadly within it and gain a knowledge of what has already been done.
Here's something I rarely hear or see discussed when the issue of child writers publishing comes up: If you are talking about "real" publishing, that ten, twelve, fourteen-year-old child's work will be competing with the work of people who have studied and written for many years. Is it a good idea for the adult world to tell kids they are ready to do that? This is a situation in which humility would actually protect these kids until they've gained knowledge and skill through reading, practice, working in writers' groups, and attending author appearances where they can talk with people who are doing what they think they want to do.
In what other field are children told they are ready to do what adults working in that field are doing?
Parents need a reality check as well.
I think there's little knowledge of how traditional book publishing works. Over the years, I've had people indicate that they thought I was simply paying someone to publish my books. I don't know how they thought they were getting into bookstores. People can probably understand self-publishing more easily than traditional publishing.
But they still don't get the marketing aspect of publishing. So when parents are encouraging their children to publish, they're probably just thinking, Oh, we'll pay for copying. And then something magical happens after that.
There are also a lot of groups making money off from all kinds of writers, but self-published, in particular. There have been companies selling "reviews" and selling marketing that they either can't come across with or that just don't deliver results. Parents need to know about that so they can protect their children and themselves.
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