Every generation faces unique challenges, especially now in the publishing space.
(Written by Remso W. Martinez)
I know many people who want to write a book, and that’s where it ends. They want to write a book, but they either don’t put in the work to turn this dream into a reality, or they give up somewhere along the process. This is a constant problem in the publishing world, but millennials are uniquely advantaged to become the generation that publishes more books than any other in human history.
The ability to research, the tools to write, and the resources to publish and build a brand are more accessible now than at any other point in history. So what is in our way? What unique obstacles will potential writers encounter that can either harm them or help them?
7. When It’s Time to Write, the Cell Phone Goes Away
A study from 2016 tells us what we already know: Millennials are distracted by their phones. They are distracted in the classroom, behind the wheel, and are even replacing face-to-face communication with a screen out of pure convenience. I’m not here to bash phones—ultimately, humans are choosing to enable these behaviors, and phones are just the outlets.
If you want to commit to something as hefty as writing a book, you need to place limits on yourself and build some personal discipline.
This means putting the phone away, disconnecting from the internet on your laptop if you have to, and dedicating a consistent block of time to writing your draft. Your only thoughts and focus should be on your manuscript.
Trust me, your phone won’t walk off, and the world won’t end if you ignore Facebook and Twitter for at least an hour.
6. Utilize the Free Resources at Your Disposal
The internet is a beautiful monstrosity and a terrifying masterpiece, and we are the first generation to be completely fluent in it. From online masterclasses to YouTube tutorials, writing cooperatives, and tools to help you while you are actively writing, there is no question or challenge you could face that someone hasn’t encountered—and overcome—that hasn’t already been addressed.
Also, for non-fiction works and even research, the ability to contact subject matter experts, witnesses, and other key people necessary for you to get the full picture is as easy as a click of a button. Your ability to craft a well-rounded, thorough book isn’t just possible—it’s real, it’s easy, and it’s as accessible as making a quick search on your phone.
5. Blogging Isn’t Optional, It’s Mandatory
Having a body of existing work isn’t just needed to convince publishers you are serious; it’s also necessary in order to convince your readers you are actually someone worth listening to. You don’t need much to earn some credibility; you just need to show readers that you were contributing to your field prior to writing this book. There are plenty of blogs, outlets, and opportunities for even “Letters to the Editor” where you can get published. Even if you have to start your own blog, podcast, or website, anything is better than nothing.
The same principles apply to fiction, too. Have you published fan fiction on a forum? Have you entered a short story contest? Do you blog about a television show or a comic book series? Everything adds up and is necessary for long term success. This will help you when you need to find an audience to market your book, too.
4. Understand That Millennials Speak a Different Language
Don’t write like you text or talk to your friends. Period.
I hear from professors and editors all the time that well-intentioned people will use shortcuts as they write. “JK” and “LOL” don’t have a place in your book unless you’re writing dialogue. Discussions of new websites, apps, and technology are always going to be alien to some people despite their age. When writing, even for a targeted audience that might understand your professional vernacular, you have to assume your reader knows nothing.
Using discretion, you might need to explain what TikTok is. (I’m 24, and I still don’t understand TikTok, so do me a favor and explain it.)
This isn’t a problem just for millennials; all generations talk a different “jive” so to speak, so keep this in mind regardless of whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction.
3. Being Broke Is Not an Excuse for a Lousy Product
The broke millennial stereotype isn’t even that; it’s a part of reality for many of us. Specifically, if you are self-publishing, you’re going to have to pay for editing (multiple times), copyright, cover art, marketing, and all the other random expenses that always seem to take more cash from your wallet.
Your readers and customers don’t care about your life circumstances. They want a quality book, just like you would expect if you were buying one.
I worked as a mall cop just so I could funnel that money back into my book, so you can easily drive for Uber or even curb your spending. Besides, if you hustle, you could potentially make that money back and eventually walk away with a profit.
2. Your Age Is a Weakness and a Strength
Understand that age discrimination is a real thing, and being in your twenties and writing a book looks more like an unrealistic passion project than something that will result in a final project. Now is your time to prove this perception wrong.
There are plenty of outlets and organizations that want to boast about having the next intelligent, fresh face who can be the future of their field. Sometimes it may be patronizing, but as anyone in business or even Hollywood will tell you, if you got it, work it.
1. Remember: This Is Your Long-Term Brand
Don’t do anything you’ll regret years from now just to make a quick but or get five minutes of attention, though this is easier said than done in hindsight. Seek counsel, look to others in your field, and remember that once you publish a book, you are a public figure. How you push your product reflects on you, and how you carry yourself reflects on your product, too.