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Building your writing credits

In my article on query letters, I’ve mentioned before that there is an entire paragraph devoted to your author writing credits. There is a reason for this: to give your prospective literary agent or publisher some material that proves that you are a professional and are willing to put in the time and effort to be published. But as a child, you aren’t really a publishing professional but if you put in the energy, there are ways to become one.

First of all, stay professional in your query letter and keep your tone attentive and polite. When it is time to give your credits, share your previous publications in a humble manner. If you haven’t been published at all before (including magazines, anthologies, ect.) then don’t say “I’ve never been published before ever. In fact, this is the first thing I’ve ever written aside from boring essays for school”. I guarantee that won’t get you anywhere. This article is devoted to building those credits, so there should be no need for this at all.

Find magazines and contests that are targeted towards young writers. I would suggest that you steer clear of ones that charge you an entry fee and instead type ‘free writing contests for kids’ (or teens) Here are some ones that I recommend.

Polar Expressions publishing (Canadians only)

The Poetry Institute and Young Writers Of Canada

PBS Kids Writing Contest for Kids

Teen Ink

St. Louis County Library

Writing Contests are certainly good ways to gain writing credits. Another way is through magazines.

Pomegranate Words

Teen Ink Magazine

Stone Soup

Creative kids magazine


Writing links

Sam’s Writing links

Brainstorming and Inspiration:

Ink Provoking

Language is a Virus

The Story Starter


Baby (character name ideas)

Groups and Clubs:

The Young Writers Society

National Novel Writing Month Website for Young Writers

Writer’s Digest:



Publication opportunities:

Pomegranate Words

Reach Every Child

Teen Ink Magazine

Teen Voices


Stone Soup

In the comments section below, please tell me about any other writing links you know about.

Question of the Week: What platform should young writers use

Dear Sam,

I’ve been hearing that writers need some sort of online platform. But I’m not an adult and I don’t have free reign over social media. What should I do?

Dear Anonymous,

As a non-adult myself. I’ve also been faced with this question. Here is my suggestion, pick one major social media outlet and stick to that. Point out to your parents how it can help you develop as a writer and allow you to connect with others with your same interests. Here are some examples of social media outlets:

My opinion in this case is that having a blog is the best tool to use. I do, and I have no Facebook or Twitter. Nor do I need to at this time. Maybe later, if I get published, I might want to go down those alleys but for now, I’m sticking to Young Writers Café. You can blog about everything, from Chocolate to your personal life. A warning however: I would not recommend doing a truly personal blog because you just don’t want random people on the internet to know everything about you. And while writing about your birthday party might be fun for you, it isn’t very helpful to a literary agent or editor that comes along.

If your writing is in a particular niche or if your story is centered around a historical event, you might want to blog about that. Remember though, that what you put on the Internet would be seen by all of your prospective employers and universities in the future.

Also, if you have a Facebook or Twitter account, make these private so that only your friends can see them. Everything that you put on the Internet and can be easily accessed will be seen by any literary agents or editors that you would query in the future. If you Tweet writing advice or talk about books and publishing on Facebook, these might be okay. But if you don’t want that agent to see your Sweet Sixteen party pictures, don’t make them public.

What social media outlets do you use?

Publishing Terminology

Query Letter: a brief one page letter introducing yourself and your book to someone in the publishing business

Book Contract: a document signed by yourself and a publisher once the publisher has accepted your book for publication. States the rights of both parties as well as the advances and dates.

Advance: A certain amount of money paid to the author as a loan upon publication. The Author will not receive royalties until the publisher has earned this money back for themselves.

royalties: a percentage of money made from the book sales that is given to the author.

Work-for-hire: a statement in the Book Contract in which the author gives up all rights to their creation including electronic and print copies, interactive games, theme parks and movie rights.

literary agent: A person of status in the publishing business with connections. They are queried in the same manner as a publisher and if the author’s work is accepted, they use their connections with publishers to try to get it published. Are not paid by author but take a percentage of royalties and the advance.

subsidy publisher: A publisher that the author pays to publish their work and does not have distribution to major book retailers.

hybrid publisher: Similar to the subsidy publisher, except you still have to go through the query process to see if your book is accepted. Splits publication costs with the author.

vanity publisher: See subsidy publisher.

synopsis: the summary of events in a novel including the end. Length varies from two pages to ten.

middle grade: the category of books for readers ages 8-12

easy reader: the category of books for readers ages 6-9

picture book: the category of books for readers ages 4-7

young adult: the category of books for readers ages 12- 18

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