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The 15 yr old female in question has spent the last few months writing her own book (Fiction) and has passed it to her uncle for review who has a very small publishing press but its in an entirely different sector (Religious Works). She is due to start looking for part time work in the next 6 months after her exams and would rather get work doing something she enjoys rather than prioritise the idea of extra pocket money at this stage in her life.

Where would be a good place for her to start? Is there any chance she could get some sort of internship somewhere? I suggested the idea of writing letters to publishers to her, but that may be a bit of a long shot.

Are there some preferable action paths she could take?

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6 Answers 6

If she has a book that she feels has potential, then she should try sending it out to any agents that might be accepting manuscripts. At the very least she may be able to get some constructive feedback on what she has written and perhaps even some guidance on where to go from here. I'm not sure that I would encourage her to provide her age, because there is a good chance that might cause agents (and/or publishers) to flag her as a greater risk.

At the age of 15/16, it will be pretty difficult for her to obtain any kind of internship. I would recommend that she contact her school guidance counselor for advice on any programs that might be available for to pursue. There may be some summer workshops or writing classes that she could consider. While these would not provide any pay, they would provide her with experience that she can continue to apply as she pursues her goal of becoming a writer. Beyond that, encourage her to take any elective classes at school that might be available to her.

I have a daughter who is 17 and has recently completed her first manuscript. I encouraged her to take an Advanced Placement English class at her high school because it focuses primarily on writing skills. It has proven to be very similar to a creative writing course that she might get in college. She is planning to go to college next year and focus primarily on writing and literature with the plan to obtain a teaching degree as well.

As far as possible employment, you might encourage her to look at local colleges to see if there are any summer internships being offered by any of the professors in the English department. Something like that might give her exposure to a mentor or others who might help foster and improve her writing skills while also giving her some practical work experience.

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Write. Write a lot. And then write some more.

Though your daughter may be a very good writer, it's pretty unlikely that she's going to write anything publishable at her age. So the best thing for her to do would be to just write whatever she wants, and work on getting experience and effort.

Focus on finishing things and getting breadth of experience. Try writing a novel. Try writing short stories. Try writing an epic poem (I did this when I was in high school). Join the high school newspaper staff. The more things she tries, the better she'll understand what she wants to work on.

Finally, she should start thinking about if she wants to pursue a creative writing degree in college. A creative writing degree certainly isn't necessary to becoming a writer, but it's one path that a lot of writers use.

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+1 for focus on finishing things. It's extremely important to know that there's a goal in sight when you're writing, and that you can reach it. –  StrixVaria Nov 15 '11 at 16:12
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Finish school. Go to a university.

If her "book" is any good she could send query letters to agents and be prepared for a glimpse of reality.

I can't think of any successful published authors (today) who are fifteen. Heck, a signing tour would require an adult along....

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Read. Write. Read some more, in as many genres as possible. An English degree will be of use, but is by no means essential. A creative writing program will only be useful if the program is prestigious (ie she will make connections) and covers aspects of publishing also. She should also make sure the programs covers the genres she wants to write in (most focus on lit fiction, which is useful to read for anyone, but useless to learn to write if she wants to write genre fic).

There are no publishing or writing internships available to fifteen/sixteen year-olds in terms of paid work. If you want to work in publishing, you usually start out working for free (and will usually be eighteen). She could request work experience. She could also ask places like Entangled Publishing (whom I work with) if they're looking for another online intern in the Young Adult genre; one of their interns is currently fifteen. This involves reading submissions and offering an opinion; it may or may not help her to improve her writing and will depend on her interest in the genre.

There are people who write publishable novels at her age. Hannah Moskowitz was published at seventeen (I think) and writes popular young adult novels, for example. Kody Kepplinger was 19, I think (possibly 18?) She should aim to submit if she feels she's ready--but the odds, at her age, are very low, and it may not be in her interests if the work is very raw.

Her uncle's opinion is irrelevant if he has no experience of the genre she's writing in, by the way, aside from the fact that he may be able to point out punctuation mistakes. If she has very strong grammar skills, he might offer her work experience in copy editing, though.

This is an industry where it pays to know people. She should make every effort to make connections (online is good for this, but do supervise). Blogging and Twitter are both useful. She should review the books she reads in detail, if she can. All this kind of stuff will come in handy when she turns eighteen and can look for lower jobs in publishing or wants to intern with an agency (although they tend to take university students).

It is worth her keeping in mind that most writers maintain a "day job." Writing does not pay all their bills. Training in another profession will nmost likely be very useful to her.

Most of all, if her current work is a bit rubbish (mine was at fifteen :P) she should not worry. She'll be called a "young" author if she's published before thirty. The very best of luck to her :)

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getting expert advise is a great idea! I personally think she should go ahead and look for publishers. if she is truly talented and she truly wants to do this for a living, she might as well start now. and besides, what's the worst that can happen? (answer: they can say no)

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Go right online. That's the place to be. Start writing directly onto the websites if needed.

Have a blog. Write and publish/update everyday.

My own child published her first poem online much earlier than 15.

As for the money, well, it's going to be only a trickle at this stage. With a bit of luck, it can improve over time. Most important, give wi..de publicity to her online publications, to improve visibility over the Internet.

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