No. 1: Write a Story That Needs to Be Told
This does not just mean a tragic, real life story. Fantasy needs to be told. Dystopia needs to be told. Science Fiction needs to be told. The point is, you have to believe in your story. You are it's number one advocate. If you don't believe in it, why should an agent?
No. 2: One Draft Isn't Enough
Believe me, I know how tempting it is to just want to put the beast to rest and send it off. But I promise that you'll regret it. At minimum, push out two drafts. Just two. The professionals that you will be sending your work to appreciate the effort that you've put into your work. Have other people read it. Multiple pairs of eyes and ideas are better than just yours.
No. 3: Know Your Buyers
I don't mean readers (you should've already figured that out haha), but I mean the agents and editors that you will send your manuscript to. They are very busy people who receive a lot of submissions and emails and have a lot of meetings and phone calls. Don't waste their time by sending them a manuscript they have no interest in reading. Most agents publicly announce their interests, and they won't even look at a manuscript that is not in their field of interest. Do your research. Read magazines and find books. There are tons of resources for you to find agents that would be interested in representing you. And don't rule out Independent publishers. I speak from experience, they're wonderful!
No. 4: Know Your Genre
Read books in your genre, look at who's publishing them and representing them. That will help you in knowing who's interested in your topics.
No. 5: Join Communities
Be apart of online communities and groups that discuss your genre and similar topics. Be active in these groups. Share your writing. Agents and editors are starting to look at these online writing communities, so it may just be your shot! Goodreads, Figment, blogging, Wattpad, Writerscafe, scribophile are all great places to start.
No. 6: Kick-butt Query Letter
Your query letter is your golden ticket into the publishing industry. Every word has to be perfectly planned out. I don't know how many times I rewrote my query. If you need an idea on where to start, check out these websites:
No. 7: It's Okay to Fail
Rejection is part of this business. When you finally get the courage to send out your masterpiece, you have to build up a thick skin. You have to detach yourself from the work and not allow rejections to hurt you. Because if you're like me, you're going to get a lot of them. Just think about all the other inspiring authors who were rejected multiple times: J.R.R. Tolkien, John Steinbeck, Dr. Seuss, Stephanie Meyers, Meg Cabot, and, of course, J.K. Rowling!
No. 8: Keep Going
No matter how many rejections you get, keep going. Keep revising. Keep sending out letters. And if you feel like it's necessary to move on, do it. But move on to another manuscript. Write something else. Get back in the saddle. Do not let the rejections discourage you. Just because the first manuscript wasn't the winner, doesn't mean the second one won't be a bestseller.
Remember, just because you're a teenager that doesn't mean that you can't do this. Teens have done this before, and we will do it again. You don't have to be an adult to succeed in this industry. Look at Kody Kiplinger (DUFF), Christopher Paolini (Eragon), Maya Van Wagenen (Popular) to name a few. If they can do it, so can you. If I can do it, you definitely can. Don't give up on yourself, your dreams, and your work. I believe in you. Now it's time to believe in yourself!
Wishing You the Best,