Thursday, July 17, 2014

5 Ways to Encourage Teens Who Might Want a Publishing Career

Me on the right, Miss Teen Editor!

That's me on the right, in a clearly posed picture with a classmate I can no longer identify. As you can see in the upper right-hand corner, we are in a Publications Office, which was located in Broad Ripple High School in Indianapolis, Indiana. And as you can also see, we had a gigantic, print dictionary. (Yes, this was a few decades ago.)

I was thrilled to be named a section editor for the New Albany (Indiana) High School yearbook, but then over the summer we moved to the big city of Indianapolis for my dad's job. All the yearbook and school newspaper positions at BRHS had already been filled, but I could be a reporter/writer/editor contributing content to the weekly "high school" spread in one of the Indy newspapers. Sold!

I loved it. But as an adult, I took a detour through a social work career before landing back in the publishing world. I was a decent social worker, but what I loved most was writing my reports. I wish I had pursued in college what I had loved in high school. I ended up doing something I "could" for a while instead of what I "loved."

If you know any high school teens who think they might like a career in publishing of some kind, consider these five ways you can encourage them.
  1. Speak up if you see budding writing talent. Whenever someone took the time to tell me I was good with the written word, I moved one step closer to thinking an eventual career in publishing might be for me. Those encouraging words made a big difference not only in high school but also when I decided to change careers.
  2. Promote publishing career research. I did not major in English in college, though I wish I had, because I thought all I could do with that degree was teach. Today, teens get a lot more career advice, but don't assume the teen you know realizes how many publishing opportunities exist—from book and magazine publishing, to online publishing, to in-house publications for companies.
  3. Support school publication or contest opportunities. Applying for or accepting an offered position on a school yearbook or newspaper or entering a writing competition can be a frightening proposition for a teen without a ton of confidence. But these experiences, which can also be crafted in a home school network, can be invaluable. Be a  "You can do it!" cheerleader.
  4. Offer to research writers’ conferences. Some writers' conferences are just for teens. And some are focused on a specific market, such as conferences for Christian writers. Do some online research about appropriate conferencesand consider helping to pay for that teen you know to attend one. 
  5. Arrange for a visit in a publishing environment. Throw out a query to friends and acquaintances (maybe on Facebook) to see if someone would host a teen for an informational interview where publishing is happening. People who love their work usually love to talk about their work! And any connection could possibly lead to a college-years internship.
For readers, did you think about writing or editing as a career when you fell in love with reading as a child or teen? 

For writers, what early experiences encouraged you to pursue writing, either as a career or for your own pleasure?   

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