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Published and Paid at Sixteen
by Alyssa Liljequist

I clearly remember my first sale. It was only a year ago. I’d recently turned sixteen. I had entered writing contests for years and had been writing for a free online magazine since the age of fourteen. I finally made the decision to submit to a publication that actually paid something. I’d been receiving the WritingKid Newsletter for over a year. As a young writer, it seemed to be a good choice. I could give readers the teen writer’s point of view.

I wrote about what I viewed as a common writing problem: writer’s block. My piece was originally titled, “Writer’s Block Strikes Again” and contained five tips on what to do when confronted by writer’s block. I checked and double-checked before nervously clicking the “send” button. I received a prompt reply. The editor was kind enough to let me know that she would prefer an article that didn’t advocate the excuse of writer’s block, instead of rejecting my article out of hand.

I hurriedly set to work revising it. I searched for quotes that would enhance the article and ended up adding three. I also gave it a new title: “To Write or Not To Write?”. The five core tips were the same; the angle was simply different. I submitted it and... it was accepted! I was so excited. My very first paid publication shot my confidence sky high. I have received my share of both acceptances and rejections since that time. Still, it was wonderful to start my free-lance writing journey on an acceptance.

Do you want to receive your first sale? Or your tenth? Or 100th? No matter what point you are at, here are three things to keep in mind:

  1. It does help to write about what you know. It’s not mandatory but it is helpful especially when starting out. For example, I’m a writer. I’m also a teen. My first acceptance was a writing newsletter and my second acceptance was... can you guess?... a teen magazine. What are your hobbies? What is your gender and age? What school subjects do (or did) you excel in? Do you have children? The questions can go on and on. Find out what you know and write about it.

  2. Editing is important. Make sure there are absolutely no spelling errors. Double-check the guidelines of the publication you are submitting to and follow them to the letter. Check your flow. Can the reader easily follow what you are saying? If you happen to have an editor go out of his or her way to give you advice on how to improve your article, be thankful and do it.

  3. You have to actually submit. Okay, so this one is obvious. But I know that I, personally, can suffer from a tendency to wait inordinate amounts of time before sending my articles out for fear of rejection. Once you have polished an article, don’t get cold feet. Remind yourself that the articles aren’t doing any good lying dormant on your computer.

I don’t think acceptances will ever lose their luster for me. I recently had another article accepted by WritingKid Newsletter and it sure feels good.

© Copyright 2010, Alyssa Liljequist

Alyssa Liljequist is a 17-year-old homeschooler who loves God and enjoys writing and filmmaking for His glory. She blogs at http://homeschoolblogger.com/alyssa/.

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