Sarah Young is one of many accomplished writers to study at Wellesley, a twice-published author of young adult fiction. Though she has been writing since she was in high school, she only recently started publishing her work, to a great degree of success. Her first novel, “Nice Jewish Boys,” came out in 2017, but Sarah didn’t stop there. Her most recent novel, “Plus One,” was released only a few short months ago in November 2018 and has already been nominated for two awards: The Rainbow Book Award, The Bisexual Book Award for Best Romance and a Goldie Award in Contemporary Romance: Long Novels. Both novels are sold on Amazon and at major retailers such as Barnes & Noble. She also has a new book on the way, which will be published sometime in early 2020, just before she graduates.
“I’m hoping that this is just the beginning of my career,” says Sarah. “I’ve been working on new story ideas in college, so I want to finish those and hopefully publish them in the future.” Sarah’s published novels were actually drafted in high school and edited slowly over the course of a couple years. “For others who want to get published, edit [your manuscript] until you think you’re gonna go crazy and then submit it,” she says. “I sat with my first book, Nice Jewish Boys, for over two years before sending it to a publisher because I was so worried about it not being perfect.”
Sarah also speaks openly on campus and writes incredible poetry on her author’s Facebook page, “Sarah L. Young author,” about her experiences in reconciling her religious and romantic lives. As a result, it comes as no surprise that the stories she prefers to tell all fall under the category of LGBTQ+ romance, a genre which while increasing in popularity is still criminally underrepresented in mainstream media. In 2016, out of thousands of books, only 79 LGBTQ+ young adult novels were published according to Malinda Lo, a blogger who has been tracking publishing rates for the past five years. Sarah has been a fan of the genre from a young age.
“Most of my writing idols are those that write queer teen lit (which is what I write), because for a long time it was considered sticking your neck out,” she says. She cited Brent Hartinger, author of “Geography Club,” as a specific inspiration. “I read an interview with him where he said that a publisher had rejected him saying it wasn’t the time to publish something that wouldn’t sell. When it was published it did really well and went on to become a movie,” she remarked. Sarah’s work has continued to increase visibility for the genre and tell diverse stories that otherwise might not have a chance to be told.
The writing process is not all fun and games, of course. Sarah had to work for months to get her first manuscript looked at by a publisher and struggled with the perfectionism that most Wellesley students can understand. She eventually came to understand that striving for the impossible was not a good use of her time. “The thing is, [a manuscript] will never be perfect,” she says. “There will always be errors and misspellings and awkward sentences. That’s what the editors at the publishing firm are there to find.” She also spoke on how difficult it was to find a publisher and offered the following advice for Wellesley authors who would like to follow in her footsteps: “Make a list of all the publishers who might be interested in your work. Find out the publishers of works similar to yours, or whose books inspire you. A lot of the time you’re gonna have to submit [to one publisher] at a time, and they can take months to get back to you. It’s a slow process with a lot of rejection, but of course, it’s possible.”