This week, we're hearing from author Molly Fennig about how parents can best help their children who aspire to publish their writing:
How have your parents supported you as a young author?
I wrote and (self-) published my first book my senior year of high school. My mom didn’t know about it until I was most of the way done and my dad didn’t know until I was right about to publish.
Although I did most of the writing on my own, there were things my parents did to help me as a writer (and others that I would recommend for parents of young writers).
For one, they read a lot to me growing and bought me books (including attaching their credit card to my kindle—amazing). We went to the bookstore together—some Saturdays we would go to this cafe called Bread and Chocolate (to get chocolate croissants) and then go to the bookstore next door.
My mom read all of my papers (if I asked her) for school, so I felt comfortable having her read my creative writing. The key is to give positive feedback to start and end, give negative feedback that is helpful, and know what your child wants from you (likely its support and encouragement at first and then help with edits or more technical issues rather than just praise).
It sounds like your parents were amazing at showing how much they valued your passion for writing. Aside from reading their kids’ papers and buying them books, what else can parents do for their teen author?
Those are all great ideas! What resources would you recommend for writers on their journey?
Websites-- Jane Friedman, Chuck Wendig, Writer’s Digest, The Creative Penn, my blog mollyfennig.com
Writing resources, communities, marketing, editors:
Youtube-- Kim Chance
Podcasts-- Write Now with Sarah Werner
What should teens know before they decide to self-publish?
In some ways I’m super glad I published so young, but in other ways it would’ve been better to wait. For one, it was such a great accomplishment and taught me a lot about writing and publishing. On the other hand, I have grown a lot as a writer since then. One thing to know is if you want to traditionally publish later, many agents will take into account your self-pub sales (even if your goal was just to get the book into the world) because as a traditionally published author, you’ll be in charge of a good amount of sales and marketing. But there are some things you can do, no matter how you want to publish.
First of all, find beta readers (for more information, visit my blog post on beta reading).
Figure out how you want to publish: traditionally or self-publishing. Here are some links on the differences between the two:
What should parents know before their child self-publishes?
You as a parent can be a reader, but remember it’s especially important for you to be supportive.
Edit. Both before your kid sends to betas and once they get their feedback. Make sure they set it down for a period of time and then come back and read aloud to catch as many errors as possible.
Teach them about marketing, especially book marketing. It’s never too early to start building a writing platform and connecting with other writers. More than that, marketing and platform is super important for publishing success.
Thanks for the advice! What else do parents need to know?
What are your child’s goals? Just getting the book into the world? Selling a lot of copies? Also, while self-publishing isn’t a “backup plan” I think it’s helpful as a young writer to at least do some traditional querying to learn about the process. For many people, though, it takes at least 100 queries to find an agent.
Before you query, make sure you’ve done the best you can with editing and polishing. You’ll also need a well written query, synopsis, pitch, bio, and comparative titles (here’s where reading in the genre really helps!). For the bio (which goes in the query), if your kid has published short stories or has a blog, include that. Don’t mention their age. If they don’t have experience, don’t mention anything about it. Make sure you personalize each query with why you’re reaching out to a certain agent. For comp titles, don’t use books like Harry Potter, but do use books with similar plots, styles, etc. The synopsis gives the ending of the book away (the entire plot), but should be engaging as much as possible.
For self-publishing, set a realistic budget and decide who will pay for what. Decide on a date for completion, farther out than what you think you will need (at least 6 months, I would recommend, more if possible. I did mine in 3 months but didn't get my books in time and had to cancel the release party).
Hire an editor. Don’t skimp on costs here. Hire a good graphic designer for the cover. This is one of the only things that will convince a reader to buy the book.
You can also hire a company to oversee the whole process (especially with formatting books and e-books, uploading to platforms like Createspace/IngramSpark, finding book cover designers, etc).
Thanks for taking the time to post with us this week! Before we wrap up, tell us about “Insomnus,” your latest novel.
Molly Fennig is a Minnesota native. Growing up, Molly was constantly surrounded by books and told herself stories to go fall asleep. These stories later inspired her debut novel, INSOMNUS, that she wrote at age 17. When she's not reading, writing, or blogging, Molly can be found studying (Neuroscience, Spanish, and English) or eating chocolate. To learn more about Molly, go to mollyfennig.com.
We're all writers, we're all moms, writing our way through the "brambles" of life and our stories.