Updated: Oct 23, 2022
The cold hard truth about being an 18 year old black author of young adult romance? It’s not all fun and games. In fact, it can be pretty tough at times. There are a lot of things that you have to keep in mind; staying true to your voice, making sure that your writing is accessible to a wide audience, and dealing with rejection from literary agents and publishers.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Being a teen author can also be incredibly rewarding. You get to connect with your readers on a personal level, see your words reach a global audience, and make a difference in the lives of others.
But today, we’re here to get down to the nitty-gritty, and talk about the assumptions that accompany being eighteen, black, self-published, and an author of young adult romance.
People will assume that because you’re writing young adult romance, your books must be trashy and poorly written.
People often assume that because I write young adult romance, my books are trashy and poorly written. I’m not sure why they think this — perhaps it’s because they think that love is only important to teenagers, or maybe they just haven’t read a good YA romance lately.
Whatever the reason, I’m here to set the record straight: just because a book is about young love, or targeted toward teens, doesn’t mean it’s trashy or poorly written. In fact, some of the best books out there are YA romances.
If you’re looking for a well-written, engaging book with complex characters and a believable love story, then you should definitely pick up a YA romance — you might just be surprised by how much you enjoy it.
One of the best ways to combat this unfortunate stereotype? Write the best book possible. Make sure your characters are well-developed and your plot is tight. Polish your prose until it shines.
In other words — don’t give people any reason to believe that your book is anything less than excellent. And who knows? Maybe, just maybe, you’ll help change people’s perceptions about young adult romance along the way.
People will constantly ask how long it took you to write your book, as though the speed at which it was produced is more important than the quality of the finished product.
People always want to know how long it took to write my book — as though the speed at which it was produced is more important than the quality of the finished product. It’s like they’re asking, “Did you just dash this off or did you take your time and actually put some effort into it?”
Of course, the answer is always the same: it took me exactly as long as it needed to. Because the truth is, the time it takes to write a book has no bearing on its quality. A book that took years to write can be terrible, and a book that was written in a few weeks can be amazing. It all comes down to the quality of the writing, not the quantity of time spent writing it.
So next time someone asks how long it took you to write your book, just smile and say, “It took me exactly as long as it needed to.” They’ll never know what to make of that answer, but at least you’ll know that you’re not falling into their trap.
People will ask you why your novel isn’t based more around your cultural experiences as a black woman.
So, why does it seem like every time a person of color writes a book it’s automatically assumed that their work is all about ethnicity? Yes, our cultural and personal experiences as individuals should be represented in literature — but that doesn’t mean we have to write stories only based on those identities!
In fact, sometimes it can be nice to escape from the hardly-fictitious realities of racial struggle and explore different worlds entirely. And that’s what I’ve tried to do with my latest novel.
Additionally, I don’t want to limit myself to writing only about my experience as a black female. I am so much more than just my race and gender, and I want my writing to reflect that.
So no, my newest novel isn’t based around my experience as a black female, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important to me. It’s just one story out of many that I have to tell.
People seem to think that because I’m young, I must not be very good at writing.
It’s a well-known fact that youth is wasted on the young. We’re too busy being cute and carefree to worry about things like bills, mortgages, and the existential crisis brought on by an overdue library book. And when it comes to writing, well, let’s just say that our Instagram captions are really more of a reflection of our true literary prowess.
Nevertheless, people seem to think that because we’re young, we must not be very good at writing. They couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, many of history’s most celebrated authors were young when they wrote their most famous works. Mark Twain was only 21 when he published his first book. Christopher Paolini was just 15 when his self-published novel Eragon was distributed. And Mary Shelley began writing Frankenstein when she was 18-years-old.
So the next time somebody tells you that you’re too young to be a good writer, just smile and tell them that age is just a number. After all, if Twain, Paolini, and Shelley could do it, so can you.