Enclosed please find my diary. I can’t give you my return address as I’m in hiding with my family. If you chose to publish this please don’t tell anyone who I am.
Days later, she and her family went into hiding and she chronicled her life in the famous attic in her diary. She died in a concentration camp two and a half years later in 1945, a few months short of her 16th birthday. Her father had her diary published in 1947. By 1952, it was published in English and has since been published in 67 languages, printed over 100 million copies, and adapted into a Pulitzer Prize winning play and several movie versions.
Imagine if her father never bothered to have her story published. The world wouldn’t have heard the account of this young girl, uprooted from her friends, her school, her carefree life, and thrust into hiding in an attic during a war she didn’t understand, living with strangers, unsure of her future.
Today Anne Frank could opt to self publish. She or her father could research through the Internet all the options, selecting a company that would turn her manuscript into a book, available for sale as a paperback and ebook.
That’s what some parents are doing. Taking their children’s work—stories, poems, and novels, and paying to have them published.
And traditional authors aren’t too happy. “There are no prodigies in literature,” said novelist Tom Robbins, (Even Cowgirls Get the Blues), “Literature requires experience, in a way that mathematics and music do not.” (NYT, 4/1/12)
Sounds like a bunch of sour grapes to me. Parents support their children’s passions – ranging from archery to zydeco and a gazillion activities in between. I’ve done my share: karate x2, piano x3, ballet, tennis, cello, chess, trumpet, oboe, boy scouts.
Why not writing? Our eldest son, Jacob, self-published a book of poetry he co-wrote with a friend. They conducted their own writers’ workshop, waking at 5 am before school, writing and editing. Their book, The Water Will Not Vanish (2003) is available as a Google ebook.
I don’t remember investing that much money in their project, and know they didn’t make much. But they loved doing it.
Maybe one of these children self-publishing now, will become the next writer to be discovered by a traditional publisher, to be read widely. And for every parent that indulges a child’s dream to publish a book, there are millions of stories, poems, and art projects left in desk drawers or hung on refrigerators. I hardly think teen authors are a threat to the adult writers.
Ironically, the obituary of Patience Abbe, 87, appeared the same day. Abbe, at age 12, published Around the World in Eleven Years, about her family’s travels between the world wars. Published in 1936, the book was praised as “uncannily shrewd” and “exceedingly funny” and became a best seller.
Children have been writing books for decades. And it seems they have something worth reading.