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Self-Publishing at an Early Age, or Any Age

Self-publishing means many people can create books online. Even teenagers. Young teens, in fact.

An article in The New York Times about how teenagers have taken to self-publishing shows how important books remain for people as a means of expression and accomplishment, and how easily one can become published, without a publisher, an agent or an editor.

This doesn’t mean that the books are great. The article quotes Tom Robbins, who dismisses the worth of these books produced by adolescents:

“What’s next?” asked the novelist Tom Robbins. “Kiddie architects, juvenile dentists, 11-year-old rocket scientists? Any parent who thinks that the crafting of engrossing, meaningful, publishable fiction requires less talent and experience than designing a house, extracting a wisdom tooth, or supervising a lunar probe is, frankly, delusional. There are no prodigies in literature,” Mr. Robbins said. “Literature requires experience, in a way that mathematics and music do not.”

He’s got a point. Good literature requires experience (though exceptions to that include geniuses like Jane Austen who started quite young and first wrote Pride and Prejudice when she was barely 21).

At the same time, literary quality aside, this trend points to the power of books: they’re not only a symbol of accomplishment, they’re a mark of individuality.

For anyone who’s building a platform to create and expand an audience, and to attract readers to one’s content, one’s message and one’s book, this is a welcome trend. It means that the idea of creating books online is one that is generally accepted.

Mainstream media and traditional publishers might scoff at the number of people who now self-publish. But the power is increasingly moving away from so-called gatekeepers and into the hands of the creators themselves.

It’s all about building a following. And with a platform you can do that. Kids understand this, perhaps, better than those who might still resist the idea of platform creation. As the owner of one self-publishing imprint, Kevin Weiss, says in the article:

“Today a 14-year-old author has as good a chance of creating a following as a 50-year-old author… And maybe a better chance because they understand the nuances of social media.”

That means you should work to understand the power of social networking in spreading your message and building your platform. It’s never too late to make a difference.

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6 Responses to “Self-Publishing at an Early Age, or Any Age”

  1. Jared Knowlton April 3, 2012 at 9:05 am #

    So very true! Gone are the days when anyone can stop the free flow of knowledge from being published. It’s the age of freedom and enlightenment. I don’t agree with Tony’s Stance, it sounds like he is getting arrogant. Everyone starts somewhere, it usually starts with they are very young though. Though he is right in that very few develop their thinking ability to the degree of the ability to write well 🙂 Interesting that he would make such a claim though. That is the kind of thinking that stops many from even trying in the first.

  2. Brandon R Allen April 3, 2012 at 10:10 am #

    You can’t keep people from expressing themselves.  They always find ways of expression through what’s available to them at the time.  Self publishing is another great example.  Kids may not be able to produce great literature but the tools at their disposal may get them interested earlier than ever and speed up their learning curve. 

  3. Jamie Moran April 3, 2012 at 10:23 am #

    A pretty cynical interpretation from Tony Robbins… should those young writers just give up writing altogether? Would Mozart have achieved what he did if he hadn’t started at the age of 5? Online publishing may do more for a budding journalist or author than just give access to a platform. Even the potential it has to become a platform may be enough to nudge them out of their comfort zone to begin experimenting with different styles. Added is the interaction with a small community, which provides dialogue and engagement, additionally allowing the author to hone his or her craft. Even taking the first steps and gaining a feel for the art of writing at a young age whose generation is saturated with lazy music, lazy video gaming and relative disconnection from any meaningful artistic expression is something we should encourage wholeheartedly. 

    • Anonymous April 3, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

      I agree, Jamie. A bit harsh from ole Tom Robbins. But I do agree with Tom in that literature does require experience. But what better way to get that experience than by DOING it? Much more powerful teacher to write your own book and publish it at a young age than sit through years of classes, waiting for the perfect moment.

  4. Anonymous April 3, 2012 at 3:20 pm #

    Love the freedom self-publishing brings to authors. What an incredible experience for young authors to be able to make their dream a reality without waiting till age 50 to make it past the gatekeepers.

    One of my favorite ways to continually improve my writing (that I’ve done since I was a kid) is listening to audio books from a variety of authors and genres. I listen to the classics and to what’s popular. I always learn something new about how to string words together or different cadences of word structure (or a hilarious new analogy). 

  5. Aldous Irving Jimenez-Echegoye April 4, 2012 at 12:13 pm #

    Self-publishing just made publishing available to anyone at any age.  It’s just so great to know that.

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