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So You Want to Be a Writer?: Teen Writing Guide: The Path to Publication

A writing guide for teens aimed at writers of any skill level, from those who are just getting started on their writing journey to those who have been writing for some time.

What you need to know about publication

When it comes to publication, things can get really complicated really quickly depending on what you're trying to get published. Below you'll find venues that specifically publish teenage writers, contests for teens, and a consideration of traditional vs. self-publishing when it comes to submitting novels. Regardless of which venue you decide to pursue publication through, there is some universal advice that you should be aware of:

  1. Always read the submission guidelines thoroughly. Different publications have different requirements for what they're looking for and how they want you to send it to them. Some venues may even request you use a specific font. Some venues may not even consider your work if you don't follow all of their guidelines correctly, so be sure to follow the submission guidelines in order for your work to have its best chance at being published.

  2. Make sure your work is the best it can be Anything that you submit for consideration for publication should be free of grammatical errors, be formatted consistently, and be the best that it can be. 

  3. Get a second set of eyes on your work before submitting. The first time someone who isn't you reads your work shouldn't be when you submit it for publication. Get a friend, a family member, or a critique partner to read your work. Not only can they offer you a second opinion on grammar and spelling, they may have some helpful content suggestions as well.  

  4. If you like a publication, find a way to follow them. Whether you subscribe to a literary journal and get new issues delivered, ask your librarians if your local library can get a subscription to a specific journal, or just follow a publication's social media pages, you should find a way to follow the publications you like and may want to submit to. This way, you can get an idea of what kind of work they're publishing and when they're open for submissions.

  5. If you're submitting to a contest, make sure you pay attention to the deadline! No matter how exceptional your piece of writing is, if you miss the deadline for a writing contest there's no chance that you'll win or even have your writing considered. When possible, try submitting well before the deadline rather than waiting for the last minute. 

Venues that Publish Teens


Ember is a semiannual journal that publishes fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. They encourage submissions aimed at readers ages 10 to 18. Due to this target audience, they accept submissions for any writer who is older than 10 years old. Ember is also unique as a literary journal because it pays 2 cents per word or $20 per work (whichever is more). Like an increasing number of literary journals, Ember uses the online submission platform Submittable. On their submission guidelines page, Ember provides additional content tips and suggestions for writers of all genres. 

Stone Soup

Of the resources shared here, Stone Soup searches for the youngest writers, publishing only writers 13 and younger. While this journal may not be the appropriate venue for older teen writers, for the younger teens and children that they wish to publish, Stone Soup offers helpful writing advice for stories, poetry, reviews, and art. Submissions run through Submittable and writers who have work accepted will receive two contributor copies of the magazine. In addtion to publishing a literary magazine on a monthly basis, Stone Soup also holds contests for young writers. 

The Adroit Journal

While The Adroit Journal does not specifically publish work just by teen writers, they don't have any age restrictions for publication. In fact, The ADroit Journal was started in 2010 by a sophomore in high school.  The Adroit Journal seeks to support young writers through other programs such as their free online summer mentorship program and a scholarship for emerging student and non-student poets. In addition to these programs, the journal encourages young writers to submit questions to ask established writers that are then published in the Dear Writer: Tips for Young Writers blog series. Submissions run through Submittable.

The Apprentice Writer

The Apprentice Writer only publishes writing by high school students both from the United States and abroad. the journal is published once a year and besides accepting fiction, memoir, personal essays, and poetry, the journal also accepts art and photography for publication within it's pages. Submitting to the journal also automatically enters writers to be considered for Outstanding Writer awards in poetry or prose. Susquehanna University publishes The Apprentice Writer both in print and online and accepts submissions via a Google Form linked in their submission guidelines. 


Canvas Teen Literary Journal publishes the work of teen writers and artists ages 13 to 18. All submissions are read and rated by a board of teen editors that are also writers themselves. Issues are available to read online so writers can get a sense of the kind of content that Canvas publishes. Submissions and applications for the teen editorial board are accepted through Submittable. Canvas suggests subscribing to their newsletter or following them on social media in order to get the most up to date information about when they're accepting submissions.

Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing

Especially when writing a novel, publishing can be a difficult road to navigate. If you want to go the route of traditional publication, you need to query an agent who will then work with you on revisions before sending your work to editors at publishing houses to see if they are interested in the work that you've created. If you want to self-publish, it may seem easier to immediately get your work out there, but self-published work doesn't have access to the marketing power that a traditional publishing house can provide. What may seem like the right route for you may not be the best for everyone else. The resources below may help provide you with more information as you seek to make the choice about which path of publication you want to pursue.

Should You Self-Publish or Traditionally Publish?

Jane Friedman, a writer with 20 years of publishing experience, explores the questions that writers might ask as they grapple with the choice between self-publishing and traditional publishing in this article. Covering everything from expectations to marketing to business, Friedman presents a nuanced consideration of both sides of the publishing spectrum.

How to Find a Literary Agent for Your Book

Having positioned herself as someone experienced with publishing, Jane Friedman looks more towards traditional publishing and the path of writing a query letter and finding a literary agent to represent your work. This post covers ways to search for literary agents you may want to submit to, what materials to submit, and how to select a literary agent if you end up receiving multiple offers of representation. This post also includes hyperlinks to multiple other related resources that Friedman has written which may be useful.

Sharing Your Work Online

If you just want to share your work and don't necessarily care about making money through traditional or self-publishing then perhaps an online platform might be the right place for you to share your creations. Whether you writer fanfiction for a specific fandom or original work, there are multiple online platforms through which to share your work with a wider audience. 

How to Publish on Wattpad

This blog post from The Writers Circle includes the basics of what Wattpad is, (an online platform where all work is available for free, anyone can publish, and you have the option of publishing work one chapter at a time), how to create a Wattpad account, and the basics of publishing your work. This resource is helpful if you're interested in learning more about Wattpad and getting started publishing (or just reading) there. 

Fanfiction.Net vs. Archive of Our Own

Nicole Pellegrini, a self-professed fangirl, presents a blog for the website Hobby Lark about two of the largest, and most well known, website for sharing and archiving fan-based works (works based on already existing media). Pellegrini considers the pros and cons of both websites and offers an in depth examination of both sites. Ultimately, Pellegrini doesn't make a value judgement, allowing you to decide which site you'd prefer to publish on. The blog also provides additional resources including lesser known fanfiction websites which you can consider. 

Your Path to Publication

Where are you in your path to publication?
I've submitted to one or more literary magazines: 0 votes (0%)
I've submitted to a contest or contests: 1 votes (100%)
I'm headed down the path of traditional book publication: 0 votes (0%)
I'm choosing to self-publish: 0 votes (0%)
I'm undecided and am here for more information: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 1

Writing Contests for Teens

Image result for scholastic art and writing awards

Scholastic Art and Writing Awards

The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards seek to support the future of creativity are open to students ages 13 and up. Awards are available to young writers and artists in 29 different art and writing categories. Awards are given on both the regional and national levels. The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards have been given since 1923, and is considered to be the nation's longest running and most prestigious recognition for creative teenagers. Submissions are open annually near the end of the year, though specific deadlines and submission guidelines differ based on your regional affiliation.

Young Writers Guide to Contests

The Young Writer's Guide to Contests features information about many contests open to young writers in a variety of genres and with a variety of prompts available to them. In addition to browsing the list of contents available, you may also search for contests by deadline date in order to find a contest that fits your schedule and time frame. The Young Writers Guide to Contests is regularly updated by Denise Hill, an educator who focuses on encouraging young writers. All of the contests listed in this guide are legitimate contests, meaning those seeking to enter can be sure they're not wasting their time with submitting. The guide appears on NewPages.Com, which also hosts a Young Writers Guide to Publications.