Posted by: Linda Proud | February 6, 2009

Advice for Young Writers

I teach creative writing to American students studying at Oxford University. Among this year’s students is one who is a star. She writes so brilliantly that, after reading her latest offering, all I can do is sigh with pleasure – and not a little envy. For some time I’ve been encouraging her to submit work to publishers but she procrastinates. Today I found out why: she is scared of her own future.

In college vacations she has worked for literary agents and publishers, so she knows the business from the inside and is painfully aware that these days the usual trajectory for a successful novelist is to begin incandescently and then peter out in a shower of sparks. Gone are the days when an aspiring novelist’s career was nurtured by editor and publisher. My student knows the game and knows she doesn’t want to play it.

God help us – what do I advise her? Any ideas? Publish under a pseudonym until she feels she is at her prime and then burst upon an unsuspecting world fully-formed? It’s one way, but I’d be grateful for any serious ideas. It really is a problem for the twenty-somethings with real talent.



  1. If I may…I suggest her looking at Unbridled Books. The mission at Unbridled is traditional: to nurture writers for their careers. But the implementation is all new: we twitter, blog, etc. The firm is virtual as well. No office. And it was founded by publishing veterans best known for introducing new writers of fiction. If our list is not a match, your student should consider other fine small/indie presses. My best wishes to her.

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