One of the characteristics of self-publishing that has led to the growth of indie publishing opportunities is that the barriers which once prevented writers from publishing their works are being stripped away, one by one. In decades past it was inaccessibility; literally, just geography stopped writers around the world from finding representation. Within some corners of the publishing industry, namely academia, their hierarchical infrastructures such as the reputations of colleges or universities the writers attended kept authors from succeeding in publication.
For Sarah Renee, 14-year-old author of three young adult/middle grade novels, her attempts at publishing were met with less than an enthusiastic response due to the fact that her status as a minor made the legal ramifications of publishing a higher hurdle to overcome than most authors face. It’s not that anyone who even speaks to her can believe that her age would prevent her from being a good author, and even Renee feels that her age has actually helped her reach her audience with a genuine voice.
“I started writing when I was ten, just short stories and such. Over time, one of the stories slowly developed into a full-length novel, The Tiger Princess. I had been writing them just for myself, but finally I began seriously editing one of the stories. I made it more complex, added some elements of mystery and an ancient secret, and really began to understand the personalities of my characters.
“But when it was finally ready for serious publication and I started researching getting my work published, I learned that a lot of publishers won’t even look at my manuscript because of the legal issues involved in working with a minor,” says Renee with an eloquence and maturity that belies her young age. And of course, her underage status is not to be taken lightly; even for the purposes of this article, the self-publishing company Renee ultimately used for her novels had to arrange the phone interview with permission through Renee’s parent and all contact info for the author had to be kept limited.
For any of the number of roadblocks that appear when an author begins to seriously consider publishing, many self-publishing and digital publishing agencies can help the author reach a proud end result. In the case of Renee, Amazon.com’s self-publishing imprint CreateSpace was able to do what many traditional publishers legally could not, even if they wanted to, which is to overlook her age.
“My mom and family have been very supportive of my publishing and CreateSpace was more than willing to put me on track with my books,” adds Renee when asked how much CreateSpace was able to work with her minor status, falling back on parental guidance and permissions for any legal issues that arose in the process of self-publishing.
“Right now, I don’t know what I would do if a traditional publisher came along. Of course, I would be flattered and I’d have to consider any offers. But I’ve been very happy with CreateSpace and I can’t honestly say that I’d leave them. It’s been pretty productive so far, every author gets an online page for each book and working with them has given me a lot of exposure on Amazon. Plus I’ve learned a lot.”