rebelling against low expectations

Publishing My First Book at 14

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Ever since I was young, I loved writing. I was nine-years-old when I started drafting my first book called, The Adventure of Nutty Oakwood. I did it mostly for fun, hoping someday I could publish it.

When I was ten, I went to one of Alex and Brett’s Do Hard Things Conferences. My parents helped me connect my writing to doing hard things (i.e. most ten-year-old’s didn’t have a finished manuscript of a chapter book). After one of the sessions, Brett Harris prayed over me and my brother.

But a problem remained. I had a manuscript, a desire to be published, and no clue what to do. After pushing forward, asking my mom to help me, researching agents and publishers, I finally met with a local published author and figured out a plan.

By then, I was 11. I decided to go down the self-publishing route. Which meant I had to do my own cover, my own interior design, my own advertising, everything. At that point, I also realized the manuscript needed a lot of work.

It took three years to finish everything, with help from everyone in my family and several good friends to make it the best it possibly could be. Had God not given me a passion for this long process, I doubt I would have finished. But now my children’s chapter book can be bought on Amazon.com, and I can say that I published a book when I was 14.

I’d be lying if I said writing a book is easy. But was it worth it?

The answer will forever be a resounding yes.


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Photo courtesy of Jessica Zhou and Flickr Creative Commons.


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About the author

Abby Mills

is a homeschooled, Christian teenager. As she finds her writing voice, she is excited to see how her love for writing and her passion for God intermix. Published at age 14, she hopes to show others that with the grace of God, young people can raise the standard for the next generation.

93 comments

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  • Awesome, Abby! Your book looks amazing – keep up the good work. Wow…you’re definitely an inspiration to keep doing hard things. πŸ™‚

  • That’s great, Abby! My brother published a book when he was 15 and that is so awesome that you are doing it when you are young too! God bless your efforts!

      • Ok it is called “The High Point History Series: American History 1754-1945” He just published another one called “World War 1: The Unraveling of the World” Both of them are written by Jace Bower and should be on Amazon. I will definitely look up your book. It sounds great!

  • Awesome Abby! I love writing and would love to publish/self publish someday! (If I can ever focus on one idea for long enough!) πŸ˜›
    Which self publishing company did you use?
    I’ll have to look your book up on Amazon!
    Keep writing!
    In Christ, Susannah
    ohsusannahbaffa.blogspot.com

    • I used CreateSpace, an Amazon company. It’s worked very well for me, although there are lots of self-publishing companies out there!
      Try writing ideas down! Yeah, ideas are hard to rein in sometimes!

      • I have thought about Createspace, didn’t know what other people thought of it so it’s good to hear from someone else about it.
        Oh I do! that’s my problem! I have a LOT of half written stories, and all of them I want to finish… for example… servinglois.blogspot.com
        πŸ™‚ My mom gets “mad” when I tell her that I have started a new story because she wants to read more, (that’s not written) in another one.

        • The best thing is to try and finish one story, and while it’s in the editing process work on another. Otherwise it gets quite overwhelming. Best of luck!

  • I love writing too, but I didn’t get into writing stories until last year in my freshman year of high school. Now I hope one day I will have at least one published book. But Abby is right. Writing isn’t easy. I’ve been forced to hold on some book ideas, but I know God is still calling me to be a writer, to make a difference in this world.

    • Best of luck to you in your endeavors! As long as you follow God’s calling, He won’t lead astray…so may He bless your writing process, and give you joy through it all. πŸ™‚

  • Great job! I wish to publish a book too but I’m still working on writing all of it! There are so many kids who are becoming best-selling authors with their amazing books and they’re so young. Not even teens! Though they might not know that the new generation is being faced with low expectations we can say that they’re stepping away from it.

  • Hey Abby, great job!
    I like the start, “Nutty, it’s a quarter to eight!”. Reminds me of my self. πŸ™‚
    Just wondering, it says on the 2nd page, Cover design and illustrations: Wes Mills
    Did your family help you with your book?

    And one more thing… πŸ˜‰
    Will you write another book?

    • Yes, my dad showed me how to do interior design, and he did all the nut illustrations, as well as formatted the cover. I was quite blessed to have his help, because it’s a long process and at the time I had no idea how to do that sort of formatting! And many members of my family helped me with the overall revising.

      I have every intention of writing another book! Right now, I’m taking advantage of being the same age as my intended audience, giving me a unique opportunity to capture the mindset of the characters, if that makes sense. Right now, I’m working on a Teen/YA novel, but that might take awhile before it’s ready to publish. πŸ™‚

      Whether or not I’ll revisit the world of Nutty Oakwood…time will tell.

      • Great that your family is helping you!!
        And another book would be great too. Have you considered writing a series? Series are quite popular. Hopefully I can read your book sometimes, but I’ve got 4 other books to finish first.

  • Great job Abby!!!
    I would never be able to write a book but
    I love love love reading, Every day I’ve got my nose in a book
    and I lose track of time, when someone calls my name I never hear them.
    I can’t wait to read your book Abby.
    I can’t believe you started writing when you were nine!
    Keep up the good, no… GREAT work. πŸ™‚
    Dominic is my brother and there are six children in my family,
    and we are all Homeschoolers like you.
    You’ve definitely inspired lots of people to Do Hard Things!!!

    ~Renee

    • Reading is wonderful. πŸ™‚ And don’t say never, who knows? God might inspire you to write! (I was once told that the key to writing is: Read a lot, write a lot, read a lot more.)
      And thanks for the words of encouragement! It’s good to meet my fellow Homeschoolers, and see how God has brought growth to that community!

  • Wow, great job Abby! That’s really awesome! I wish I started on something like that before I turned 14. Too late now because I am 14…:P

    • The great thing about God, though, is that it’s never to late for Him to use us! Stay attuned to what He calls you to do, Liam, and great things will come from it. πŸ™‚

  • Hey Abby, I absolutely loved your book! It’s amazing that you started it when you were nine. I’ve been writing short stories since I was little, but never thought of publishing them…until I saw this. You’ve really inspired me. One thing: I always pay too close attention to all the little details when I’m writing, and it’s my downfall. I don’t end up getting a satisfying ending. Any advice? Thanks, and keep up the awesome work!

    • I’m glad you liked it, Grace! And thanks, that’s very encouraging!
      The best advice I’ve ever received is that the draft is just a draft. It’s a way to get the story out of your system and on paper. Once you have your full manuscript, you can go through and rewrite scenes as much as you need, or even take out scenes and add scenes. The draft is a skeleton, and you can add as many layers of editing to it as you need. I realized that stories are meant to be rewritten, a lot. And it can seem like a really slow process, but part of rebelling against low expectations is to be willing to see it through to the end, whether it be a few months or a few years.
      As far as being satisfied with the ending, there are two keys. Prayer, first. God can give you the words. Second, have other people read through it, and give you opinions. God can work through others to improve our works.
      And stories can be rewritten over and over, there is always something that can be improved, so just ask as you write for God to tell you when enough is enough.

  • Wow that’s awesome! I’m an aspiring writer myself and the dedication is demanding!
    That’s great to hear God using a young author for his work! I hope to get a book I’m working on published before I graduate!

    And I’ll be on a lot more now, things have been crazy but I’ve been keeping up with posts even though I didn’t post!

  • I think that is awesome, after publishing a book of my own (this year in fact, age 15) I persevered through a year of painful editing. I live for writing, but more importantly… I live for Jesus Christ. After finding that my young-adult fiction novel was highly enjoyed, I began to become arrogant and take credit for my gifts; that was a mistake. I know now that any gift we are given… either big or small, comes from God, and he will get the glory. Both you and I, being ambassadors of Christ, have immense gifts, the written word is powerful. You being in a position where you have the ability to be the mouth of God is powerful. I’d say we need a few more devoted Christian authors in this world. I’m praying for you in this process, I pray that God will instill in you a devotion for writing for him.

    • Thanks for those encouraging words, Jeffrey! Writing definitely contains struggles–it is time consuming, and people’s responses can be discouraging or can boost our arrogance. But it is great that God has given us gifts, and I hope we can use them to glorify Him and give Him all the credit. He is our inspiration, and the one who gives us the words to write.
      I’d agree that we need more Christian authors, most definitely. The more Christian novels I read, it’s like a refreshing wind in a secular culture.
      What is the name of you’re book? Congrats on getting it published! πŸ™‚

  • Great, Abby! I like writing too, and have started two or three books-which-were-never-intended-to-be-so, and then picked them up later and finished them. What is your book’s name? Also, random question… do you outline stories before you start them?

    • My book is called “The Adventure of Nutty Oakwood.” And usually I do try to outline, but that has always been a bit hard for me. In the end, however, having an outline definitely helps the coherency on the story. Best of luck!

  • That is great! I’m so glad that I read this. I’m 16 and I have several books that I would like to write and publish on Amazon. It’s nice to hear that other people around my age are doing that too! It’s amazing what you can do when you really work for something. πŸ™‚

    • Very cool! Best of luck to you!

      The official, back-of-the-book description is as follows:

      Behind a small neighborhood, there is a big forest. In that forest, there is a tall oak tree. On a branch of that tree lives Nathaniel Oakwood and his family. Nutty is bored with lifeβ€”going to school, learning how to count nuts, doing everything his parents say, every single day. He longs for change, but what can a young grey squirrel do? His whole world changes when he meets the mysterious conniver Sedgewick Pine, who compels him to the β€œfree life,” and a menacing human who sees squirrels as a quick way to get stinking rich. But this so called free life will cost Nutty his freedomβ€”and maybe even his life.

      So yeah! That basically sums it up, it’s target audience would be newer readers, the elementary school age range, however I hope that all audiences can find it redeeming, fun, or just an enjoyable read. πŸ™‚

  • Wow, this was kind of a long time ago, but I found this really encouraging. I am not sure what God wants me to do with my writing at this point, but your story inspires me to not give up. Thanks!

  • Hi Abby,
    When I was 12 I started writing a story about a girl growing up in the 1960s. I knew it wouldn’t go anywhere but it was fun to just write. Now three years latter I’ve finished Upon Wings as Eagles and am finishing the process of editing it before I self publish it. For me the spark that lit my fire to publish it was Chris Tomlin’s book The Way I was Made (Which I highly recommend) He talked about living just the way God made you with. For me that was the passion for writing fiction. I talked to my parents and they agreed to help me achieve my dream of publishing my book.
    Thanks for the article. It’s nice to know I’m not the only teen-author out there.

  • wow….i published this at age 21, it birthed a relentless pursuit of purpose in me as it unveiled my gifting.

    • Never ever give up! I started my book when I was 12 just for fun. Then worked on it on and off for three years. I didn’t think I’d ever finish it but I kept going. Only by the grace of God have I finished it. Even if you don’t know if you’ll ever publish it keep going, you never know what God has in store for you and your writing.

    • I would agree with Joy, and also, don’t get discouraged. Many times I didn’t think I’d be able to finish my book, that it would never get finished and published. But if you pray and persevere, God will bless your efforts!
      And it will take a lot of time. Your story needs a solid plot, protagonists, antagonists, and theme–preferably before you even start writing it! A good plan will help the writing process go smoothly.
      Also, try the best you can to get the rough draft written. Often I find myself wanting the first draft to be perfect and then I get so caught up in it that I can’t move the story forward. It can be messy at first, as long as you’ve got the words out. You’ll have plenty of time later to rewrite, revise, repeat.
      As for actually publishing it, there are so many publishing and self publishing options! Some might cost a bit but then do the cover, formatting, etc for you, while others might be practically free but all the formatting must be done by you. Prayerfully consider all options and do as God leads!

  • Abby,
    I’m sure you have heard this before, but you have a gift! I’m 14 also, and three years ago, if I would have heard about you wanting to write a book I would be envious and judgmental, of course that being all me and none of you. Now I am just super happy for you as a fellow writer and child of Christ. For a long time I thought it would be really boring to be a writer, and to think at the time you were writing a book I was doing, well, ‘stuff’, is amazing. Not every person or writer is called to write a book at 14, you are and that is encouraging to me, it makes me want to look at whatever God wants me to do and do it, without excuses. And by the way, after you graduate and some people think its weird that you were home schooled, just tell them you published a book at 14. πŸ˜‰

    • Thank you, Kaylee! This is very encouraging to read. God is very gracious in giving his people a passion and a calling to fulfill his plans. The amazing thing about our Savior is he not only has a calling for us, he also equips us to do so!

    • I have to remind myself to be glad and not depressed sometimes, reading about girls your age publishing books. You make me feel old;) Seriously though, I’m 19, and I still haven’t published a book, or even really come close. It is still encouraging to read posts like this however, because I can say, “Well, if she can do it, so can I!”

  • Hey, Abby! Thank you so much for the inspiring story. The farther I read the more i smiled because Im self published at 14 too and while I read your story I was like ‘yes! I’m not alone!’ Your are an inspiring amazing young girl (I say young like I’m older than you lol. 15 and proud!) from one author to another, never stop what you’re doing.

  • I’ve wanted to write a book for a long time. Not a children’s book, but a sci-fi, action book for teens.

    I have two questions:

    first, how do you start?? I could do fine writing a book if I could just know how to begin it.

    Second, do you make it up as you go, or do you plan it out beforehand?

    • If I may step in with some of my thoughts πŸ™‚
      There’s no set way to start a book. Just start writing! You can always change it later!
      It’s a good idea to have at least an outline before you begin, but if you feel the book going in a different direction, follow your instincts. πŸ™‚
      Have you ever heard of NaNoWriMo?

        • Thanks! Lol πŸ™‚ It stands for National Novel Writing Month. Basically, in November, you attempt to write a novel in a month. It sounds really scary, but it’s amazing! What I love about it is it just makes you do it. When you’re trying to write a book in a month, forget about editing and second-guessing yourself–just write! And that’s absolutely what you should be doing for your first draft. There’s also a really supportive community.
          You should check out http://ywp.nanowrimo.org. It’s the youth version of NaNoWriMo. In the normal version, the goal is 50,000 words in a month (yikes!). In the youth version, you can set whatever goal you want. And it’s not so much about writing a book from beginning to end as it is just meeting your goal.
          Wow, that was really long! I’m suggesting it because I really think it could give you what you need to just start writing. It doesn’t work for everyone but it’s worth taking a look at. πŸ™‚

    • Hey Carson!
      Always start with a hook. Make sure your readers want to keep reading right from the first page. There are so many ways you can do this. See how some of your favorite books open up for inspiration.

      For Nutty Oakwood, I planned beforehand. The advantage of this is that you know where the story is going so when you write you can just enjoy the writing process. I tried writing a book without a decent plan, and 3 years later it’s hardly had any progress. A plan really helps make things go smoothly.

  • That is awesome. I’ve always wanted to publish a book, but my major block is lack of inspiration. So I’m stuck with writing and posting fanfiction for now. πŸ™‚

    • Well, fanfiction is a great writing outlet! And, if you’re meant to write a book, the inspiration will come. Also, who knows, maybe you’ll make a friend who has excellent story ideas but doesn’t like to write. I’ve met lots of people like that, and they come with great prompts.

  • That’s so cool! I’m fourteen and love to write as well. I have a finished book that I really want to get published. . . its a Christian book against evolution.
    But I don’t think I have the means to self-publish, and I certainly don’t have the money to publish traditionally.
    So for now, I just have it online on my website.
    But that’s so awesome that you were able to do that! πŸ™‚

  • I have written many books. How did you publish yours because i have three finished books. I like your name:)

By Abby Mills
rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectationsβ€”a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More β†’