PDA

View Full Version : How likely... or unlikely?



Virector
05-01-2008, 11:19 AM
What's the likelihood that one can become a succesful author with a bestseller while under the age of 20? Is it a ludicrous notion, or not so far fetched? Know any great under 20 authors? I'm just... curious...;)

HeronW
05-01-2008, 12:56 PM
About the same as becoming a millionaire before the age of 20--very slim, but not zero.

Eragon I think had a very young author though I don't know how old he was when he was published. I don't think this young man is great by any stretch--he rehashes LOTR and numerous other obvious sources but then publishers fell all over him because he was young and his regurgitation would appeal to those who like that.

I don't deny that he's a voracious reader and enjoys classics, but his characters are wooden, his plots are obvious and his dialogue is trite.

It takes extraordinary work and a unusual mind to be good at anything by the end of your second decade.

Bach and Beethovan come to mind as great musicians who were child prodigies but their best work was done long past age 20.

JimmyB27
05-01-2008, 01:58 PM
If you're asking because you are under 20, and want to get published, don't let Heron's answer discourage you. She's absolutely correct, the chances of publishing so young are slim, but that's not to say you shouldn't keep writing. Isn't our very own Shady Lane under 18 even, with an agent contract under her belt?
But even if you don't get published under 20, so what? You have a whole life ahead of you to develop your craft, your story telling ability, and to get published. Just concentrate on getting better. I'm 26, and I know I'm nowhere near good enough for publication, so I'm working to get good enough. I don't expect it will happen before I'm 30, but nevertheless, I'm soldiering on.
:)

kct webber
05-01-2008, 02:38 PM
I'm 30 and I'm not concerned. Yet. I think it's possible. Not likely, but possible. The best thing you can do is write and get better. Then write some more. Etc. I wouldn't be overly concerned with it though. You've got a few more years. ;)

Virector
05-01-2008, 03:12 PM
Thank you for your feedback! :)

waylander
05-01-2008, 03:26 PM
What everyone else said.
Write a lot, read a lot, develop your craft and find your voice.

Hang out with writers too, go to cons and talk to people. Find out how publishing works. All of these will help you sell that novel

Phaeal
05-01-2008, 05:52 PM
Every now and then, publishers decide to cash in on the publicity value of a very young author. Sometimes the ploy works, as in the case of Eragon.

However, with the proliferation of youthful storytellers fueled in part by the Internet and fanfiction and phenomena like NaNoWriMo, there do seem to be more young writers who are proficient enough to get published, or at least to seek publication.

I don't know. Write a minimally competent book with a workable (or controversial) premise and be the right dog or pony for the dog and pony show, and you could get a bestseller under age twenty.

To look more closely at the example of the day, Christopher Paolini. He states in a 2003 interview that his parents, both published authors, were instrumental in editing his first novel. They were also willing to self-publish Eragon and to promote it heavily -- Paolini toured over 135 libraries and schools in full medieval garb, for one thing. Evidently, good luck brought the book to the attention of Carl Hiaasen's stepson, who brought it to Hiaasen, who brought it to his publisher, Alfred Knopf. Knopf bought, and Paolini subsequently hit the NY Times Bestseller List at age nineteen.

So I'd say his success was a combination of his own effort, extraordinary effort on the part of his parents, and that crucial piece of luck. No bolt out of the blue there.

mirrorkisses
05-01-2008, 06:14 PM
Eragon is probably the top example of this.

But let me also say that there is a lot of awkwardness in his writing and it shows inexperience. This is constructive criticism, because I applaud ANYONE who can write a book and become a bestseller. But perhaps you should just write, instead of wanting to be the top number one out there. It's in the back of all our minds, just don't let it take over.

Jackfishwoman
05-01-2008, 08:39 PM
my feelings on this are mixed. I think that some writers are born with an intuitive passion and ability and can tap into that at a very young age.

On the other hand, I do feel that as human beings, we need to age (like good wine) to be able to tap into our gifts more successfully.

There's a lot of value in life experiences and the process of aging and viewing how life changes over the passage of time. These are the things that will give good writing depth & breadth, rather than just raw young talent and fierce determination.

slcboston
05-01-2008, 08:44 PM
I think it's unlikely to become a best-seller, but a "writer" is perhaps not so far fetched. Many successful authors started early, and while they may have struggled to publish a short story here or a poem there, they were out there.

On the other hand, there are plenty of others who got a later start and didn't hit until they were in their 30's (or older - giving me hope :) ). For many of those, it was a question of other things in life coming first - things which also shaped them as a writer.

(Scott Turow springs to mind)

Phaeal
05-01-2008, 08:49 PM
my feelings on this are mixed. I think that some writers are born with an intuitive passion and ability and can tap into that at a very young age.

On the other hand, I do feel that as human beings, we need to age (like good wine) to be able to tap into our gifts more successfully.

There's a lot of value in life experiences and the process of aging and viewing how life changes over the passage of time. These are the things that will give good writing depth & breadth, rather than just raw young talent and fierce determination.

I agree. There's no substitute for maturity and experience. These are what produce enduring literature. But if the writer can conquer grammar and technique early, so much the better for his later work.

Start young, keep writing, and squeeze some living in there along the way. ;)

Phaeal
05-01-2008, 08:56 PM
Eragon is probably the top example of this.

But let me also say that there is a lot of awkwardness in his writing and it shows inexperience. This is constructive criticism, because I applaud ANYONE who can write a book and become a bestseller. But perhaps you should just write, instead of wanting to be the top number one out there. It's in the back of all our minds, just don't let it take over.

Yes, Eragon is raw. I couldn't get past the first couple chapters. In my experience, it's the readers who have read little or no fantasy who like these books best.

maestrowork
05-01-2008, 09:02 PM
What's the likelihood that one can become a succesful author with a bestseller while under the age of 20? Is it a ludicrous notion, or not so far fetched? Know any great under 20 authors? I'm just... curious...;)

If you write a brilliant book that everyone wants to read -- great chances.

If you're just talking about being a huge Rock Star without putting any work and effort into it -- slim chances.

Age doesn't necessarily have anything to do with it. That said, I am a true believer that writing gets better with age.

Shadow_Ferret
05-01-2008, 09:49 PM
What's the likelihood that one can become a succesful author with a bestseller while under the age of 20? Is it a ludicrous notion, or not so far fetched? Know any great under 20 authors? I'm just... curious...;)


Stop sitting around speculating and just write the best darned book you can and you'll find out.

Otherwise, yeah, what maestro said.

slcboston
05-01-2008, 10:01 PM
Stop sitting around speculating and just write the best darned book you can and you'll find out.

Otherwise, yeah, what maestro said.

You seem grumpier with the new avatar... :flag:

Soccer Mom
05-01-2008, 11:00 PM
I think Ed seems less grumpy (but also less like a small furry critter) :)

That said, I think success can happen at any age, but not without putting in the work.

And writing does continue to improve with age and effort. Life experience can broaden your horizons and increase your knowlege. It can add a depth to your writing that is difficult to achieve at a young age, but not impossible.

Birol
05-02-2008, 01:18 AM
Vee, you keep focusing on becoming known for your writing. On one hand, I can understand that. Most of us want to be the next big thing, but you can't write for wealth and fame. If you do, those things will never come. Regardless of why you write, those things may never come.

What you have to understand is that writing is a craft. It's a skill. It's developed over time, with commitment, thought, and practice. Much practice. If you want to have a bestseller, you have to write a few non-bestsellers first.

JoNightshade
05-02-2008, 01:25 AM
In so many public professions, you start to "age out." Acting, sports, political life, etc. etc.

I thank my lucky stars that I have my entire life to work on becoming a fantastic writer. In this profession, it's not about getting rich and famous while you're young. In large part, it's about the accumulation of experience and wisdom.

So I look forward to the fact that as I get older, the better I will write. :)

Danger Jane
05-02-2008, 01:53 AM
I amend Ray's statement: Writing gets better with experience. Which is very closely related to age, unless you can stop time, but well, if I stopped writing now and didn't start again til I was forty, my writing at forty one would not be better than (or at the very least, would not be appreciably better than) my writing would have been a year from now.

The odds of becoming a bestseller under 20 are slim. Hell, the odds of becoming a bestseller at all are slim. But I bet you can write a damn good story anyway, right?

Virector
05-02-2008, 02:29 AM
The odds of becoming a bestseller under 20 are slim. Hell, the odds of becoming a bestseller at all are slim. But I bet you can write a damn good story anyway, right?

Yes, I believe I can. :D