Blogger: Rachelle Gardner
Hi Rachelle, I’m 62 and about to retire; I’m preparing to dedicate my retirement years to writing full-time. I wonder whether “age discrimination” would enter into my efforts to get published. I realize the quality of the product is the most important thing, but do you think my age would detract from consideration of my manuscripts?
Dear Rachelle: I’m 16 and have written two novels. Should I mention my age in query letters? If I do, will it be a problem?
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I think most agents receive these questions occasionally, from people at both ends of the age spectrum. And it’s no wonder — in this age-conscious society, it’s a perfectly legitimate question. I don’t think age is a big consideration, and as far as I can tell, most agents hold similar viewpoints.
→ The book is still the main thing.
It’s by far the most important consideration. If it’s fiction, then the story itself and the quality of the writing are what matters. With non-fiction (as always) the uniqueness of the idea, its marketability, and your author platform will all be considered. The book itself is where we place the most emphasis rather than age.
→ Don’t include your age in the query.
There’s just no need. In fact, there’s no need to bring up your age until you are in discussions with an agent or publisher who’s interested in your book(s). You may want to mention it at that point just to save them from asking.
→ Writing is one of the careers you can do well past “retirement” age.
Regardless of the fact that our society is youth-obsessed, writing remains one of those skills that people generally get better at over time. You have a lot more to say when you’re older, right? There are plenty of “late bloomers.”
→ Writing is a craft that some people master at a very young age.
While there are fewer young people whose writing is of professional quality, it can happen. Some people just have the gift! There are prodigies in just about every discipline. Some people do get published as teens.
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Now, I think we’d be a little disingenuous if we didn’t acknowledge that some publishers with their eyes on the “long term” and wanting to maximize their investment might bring up the age factor in an acquisition meeting, when considering a retired author. They just want to be assured that you’re healthy and have a reasonable chance of being around for awhile. But if they see a great book or series that they think they can make money on, they’re not going to worry much about your age. And no publisher has ever mentioned an author’s age to me.
My final answer: You can’t do anything about your age anyway, so don’t let it worry you. Good writers will find a way to get published!
Photo by Christian Bowen on Unsplash
Wendy L Macdonald
Thank you, thank you, dear Rachelle, for encouraging us twenty-nine-and-holding writers to focus on what matters most. 🙂
Blessings ~ Wendy Mac
My body by misfortune is
now older than the hills,
but I will assure you this,
I’m young in strength and will.
I’ve seen it all, done even more
than’s right for any single life,
but I have yet might in store
to take me through the strife.
So bearlike I will fight the course;
lay on, you ravening years!
My words will be my shining force,
and it shall not end in tears.
When I’m gone, and when I’m dead,
let my writing light the way ahead.
Nice, Andrew! Our strength isn’t dependent on what our body can do, but on how stubborn our mind can be. Many blessings today.
Thank you so much, Angela!
Thank you, Rachelle, for your words of encouragement. As a fellow twenty-nine-and-holding writer–hello Wendy Mac–it’s a great reminder to read “the book is still the main thing.” 🙂
Wendy L Macdonald
This is hopeful news for so many of us. Thank you! It’s interesting and so wonderful to hear testimonies of people’s writing journeys, when it hit them and why.
Never let age stop you from writing. We are not too old. We are not too young. Consider some of the amazing things people accomplish including writing in their “years”. Examples: Angela’s Ashes, Frank McCourt, age 60, Little House on the Prairie fame, Laura Ingalls Wilder, age 65 and the list goes on.
Just follow the tips above, and write, write, write.
I love this! I am 59 years old but in my mind, I am still about 30 years old. haha! I enjoy mentoring younger women and enjoying being mentored by older women. We can all learn from each other. 🙂
I have no plans to retire from writing. Thank you, Rachelle, for the affirmation.
sheila d arrington
Thank you, I am retired and enjoy writing I hope to publish soon.