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kkwrites
06-21-2011, 10:23 PM
I'm 23 years old, and have a polished 130,000 word epic-fantasy manuscript. I'm currently working on the query for it.

I like to think that my writing speaks for itself (as it should), but I also think that my youth helps make me a marketable personality. Is there a tasteful way to include this in a query without seeming like I'm screaming, "hey, look at me! I'm a super smart young dude!"

Thanks for the advice.

suki
06-21-2011, 10:27 PM
I'm 23 years old, and have a polished 130,000 word epic-fantasy manuscript. I'm currently working on the query for it.

I like to think that my writing speaks for itself (as it should), but I also think that my youth helps make me a marketable personality. Is there a tasteful way to include this in a query without seeming like I'm screaming, "hey, look at me! I'm a super smart young dude!"

Thanks for the advice.

There are many published writers in their twenties. There are even published authors in their teens. Being twenty-three isn't such a rarity that it would be worth mentioning in the query. I don't think mentioning your age would be a plus in a query.

~suki

MJNL
06-21-2011, 10:30 PM
There's absolutely no reason to mention your age, especially if you're writing fiction. It has no bearing on your work, your potential marketability, or your ability to work well with others. It simply doesn't matter, so why clutter a query with it?

kkwrites
06-21-2011, 10:31 PM
There are many published writers in their twenties. There are even published authors in their teens. Being twenty-three isn't such a rarity that it would be worth mentioning in the query. I don't think mentioning your age would be a plus in a query.

~suki

Most young authors write to a YA target audience. This is not my scenario.

suki
06-21-2011, 10:34 PM
Most young authors write to a YA target audience. This is not my scenario.

It is still irrelevant. There are twenty-something year old authors in every genre. In my opinion, to mention your age in your query would make you look amateurish, not special.

~suki

Chris P
06-21-2011, 10:34 PM
I don't know if including that info will help you. 23 is just old enough to have completed a 4-year degree in English AND gotten an MFA in creative writing (in theory, anyway). An agent who is impressed by youth isn't likely to see 23 as young, and an agent who is not impressed by youth will either ignore it or be biased thinking you're green.

Since it can go either way, I'd leave it out and zowie him with your writing.

Ari Meermans
06-21-2011, 10:38 PM
Most young authors write to a YA target audience. This is not my scenario.

As already mentioned, age is immaterial when it comes to writing fiction. Including it in a query signals an amateur IMHO.

sonyablue
06-21-2011, 10:39 PM
If you were 13 and had written something phenomenal, then maybe it would be impressive. But 23 is not particularly young when it comes to writing. I can't think of any reason to mention this in your query.

quicklime
06-21-2011, 10:42 PM
I'm 23 years old, and have a polished 130,000 word epic-fantasy manuscript. I'm currently working on the query for it.

I like to think that my writing speaks for itself (as it should), but I also think that my youth helps make me a marketable personality. Is there a tasteful way to include this in a query without seeming like I'm screaming, "hey, look at me! I'm a super smart young dude!"

Thanks for the advice.


I think you are wrong--why would your age be a marketing tool? Are you planning on hand-selling at Abercrombie?

the work sells, adding your age would be like adding the false credentials "My mom loved it" or "I have also been published in the webzine '95% Acceptance'".

Sorry, just don't see any way your age will offer even a sliver of extra to your query.

MJNL
06-21-2011, 10:42 PM
And if you need proof that you're not the only twenty something not focusing on YA: I'm 24. See, it's not that special.

quicklime
06-21-2011, 10:43 PM
Most young authors write to a YA target audience. This is not my scenario.


I also disagree with this statement.....

many big names started young, including King, Bradbury, Hemingway, etc....

kkwrites
06-21-2011, 10:44 PM
Thanks for the feedback, all.

quicklime
06-21-2011, 10:45 PM
Thanks for the feedback, all.


sorry, man..just work on the script itself and it won't matter one way or the other.

kkwrites
06-21-2011, 10:50 PM
sorry, man..just work on the script itself and it won't matter one way or the other.

No worries. I wasn't depending on age in any way shape or form. I was simply seeing if it was something that could be used to my advantage.

Ambition knows no bounds. ;-)

CaroGirl
06-21-2011, 10:53 PM
The only way I could see age as relevant is if it somehow gave you a unique perspective. Like, "Having come of age in South Africa during the era of apartheid..." (which would peg your age as approximate).

But for your genre, and just to prove you're youngish, I don't see the relevance.

PinkAmy
06-21-2011, 11:12 PM
The only way I could see age as relevant is if it somehow gave you a unique perspective. Like, "Having come of age in South Africa during the era of apartheid..." (which would peg your age as approximate).

But for your genre, and just to prove you're youngish, I don't see the relevance.
Agreed. If you were 23 and writing a memoir about your life as a teen marketed to the YA audience, then yeah. Other than that, your age is insignificant and an agent would wonder why you mentioned it. Let your good writing speak for itself.

Cyia
06-22-2011, 12:28 AM
23 isn't even close to unusual enough to be a hook where marketing is concerned.

kposa
06-22-2011, 12:31 AM
No worries. I wasn't depending on age in any way shape or form. I was simply seeing if it was something that could be used to my advantage.

Ambition knows no bounds. ;-)

I like you already. :) Good luck querying.

Chris P
06-22-2011, 12:33 AM
No worries. I wasn't depending on age in any way shape or form. I was simply seeing if it was something that could be used to my advantage.

Ambition knows no bounds. ;-)

I understand! I'm for anything that gives me an edge. I wish 40 was considered a young writer *sigh*

Welcome to AW!

leahzero
06-22-2011, 01:11 AM
Completing a novel at 23 is a pretty big accomplishment. (It's a big accomplishment at any age, but I get the whole "I did it while I was so young" angle.) So, congrats.

But definitely leave it out of your query. Good luck!

lindseyanne
06-22-2011, 02:03 AM
I've never actually done query letters because I don't aim to publish any fiction I've written at this point, but I look at it at the same way I look at writing a resume or a cover letter for a job -- I don't mention my age there because it's irrelevant to my skills, so I wouldn't mention it in a query either.

mccardey
06-22-2011, 02:40 AM
Congratulations on finishing, though! Well done!

kkwrites
06-22-2011, 02:41 AM
Completing a novel at 23 is a pretty big accomplishment. (It's a big accomplishment at any age, but I get the whole "I did it while I was so young" angle.) So, congrats.

But definitely leave it out of your query. Good luck!


I understand! I'm for anything that gives me an edge. I wish 40 was considered a young writer *sigh*

Welcome to AW!


I like you already. :) Good luck querying.

Collective thank yous. :)

xcomplex
06-22-2011, 03:41 AM
Well...Sorry, but I'm gonna have to agree with the rest of the answers. I mean, you're not old but...I actually mentioned my age in my query, and it hooked like 5 agents for me, and I write in the same genre as you :) But then again, I was 16. I'm 17 now and am about to sign for representation. I actually have written 14 novels all together which also got their attention, not to mention my query...In case you want me to crit your query feel free to PM me. Cheers!
X

Becca C.
06-22-2011, 04:31 AM
Well...Sorry, but I'm gonna have to agree with the rest of the answers. I mean, you're not old but...I actually mentioned my age in my query, and it hooked like 5 agents for me, and I write in the same genre as you :) But then again, I was 16. I'm 17 now and am about to sign for representation. I actually have written 14 novels all together which also got their attention, not to mention my query...In case you want me to crit your query feel free to PM me. Cheers!
X

I agree with this. 23 is young in comparison to a lot of writers, but there are a lot that are even younger. When I had a phone call with an agent, she asked how old I was (because my voice sounds like a 12-year-old's). She was impressed that I was 19. And this was after she had read my whole manuscript and liked it, without the bias of knowing my age. I think if she'd known I was young before she'd read it she may have looked at the manuscript differently. You should want to be evaluated by the quality of your writing, period, rather than the quality of your writing for your age.

Susan Littlefield
06-22-2011, 05:08 AM
I'm 23 years old, and have a polished 130,000 word epic-fantasy manuscript. I'm currently working on the query for it.

I like to think that my writing speaks for itself (as it should), but I also think that my youth helps make me a marketable personality. Is there a tasteful way to include this in a query without seeming like I'm screaming, "hey, look at me! I'm a super smart young dude!"

Thanks for the advice.

Age doesn't matter. What matters is that you query out a good well written novel. The work stands it's own.

xcomplex
06-22-2011, 05:09 AM
But at the same time, it is a marketing point, especially for YA. YA writing for YA, right? Cheers
X

Cyia
06-22-2011, 05:11 AM
But at the same time, it is a marketing point, especially for YA. YA writing for YA, right? Cheers
X

Not as much as it used to be. You'd have to be like 14-15 for it to really matter or be "shocking", considering the age of people like Paolini.

Susan Littlefield
06-22-2011, 05:11 AM
Well...Sorry, but I'm gonna have to agree with the rest of the answers. I mean, you're not old but...I actually mentioned my age in my query, and it hooked like 5 agents for me, and I write in the same genre as you :) But then again, I was 16. I'm 17 now and am about to sign for representation. I actually have written 14 novels all together which also got their attention, not to mention my query...In case you want me to crit your query feel free to PM me. Cheers!
X

You're 17 and have written 14 novels already, and you are getting ready to sign on with an agent? Wow! Congratulations!

Anne Lyle
06-22-2011, 02:50 PM
Yes, way to go, xcomplex!

My understanding is that age is irrelevant until you're offered representation - at which point, the main issue is whether you are legally able to sign a contract. In a world where 9-year-olds hit the headlines for selling their books, 23 is ancient. Srsly.

Otherwise, 18 or 80 makes little difference. An older writer obviously isn't going to be able to have as long a career as a young one, but anyone can get hit by a truck or fall ill*, so youth is no guarantee either.

* Like poor Scott Lynch, whose battle with depression has meant a four-year gap between books 2 and 3 of his seven-book series

Chumala
06-22-2011, 06:11 PM
I think you are wrong--why would your age be a marketing tool? Are you planning on hand-selling at Abercrombie?

the work sells, adding your age would be like adding the false credentials "My mom loved it" or "I have also been published in the webzine '95% Acceptance'".

Sorry, just don't see any way your age will offer even a sliver of extra to your query.

Lol I agree with Quick....

"My mom loved it." I am dying over here, Quick you murderer.

Jamesaritchie
06-22-2011, 07:17 PM
If you're fifteen or under, age matters. If you're ninety-seven, age matters. The very young and the very old make news. But at twenty-three, you're just another twenty-three year old writer, and there are hundreds of thousands out there just like you.

veinglory
06-22-2011, 07:40 PM
If you think age matters, mention it in your bio. But as mentioned above, 23 is not an interesting age for an author.

JHFC
06-22-2011, 09:31 PM
I don't know if including that info will help you. 23 is just old enough to have completed a 4-year degree in English AND gotten an MFA in creative writing (in theory, anyway).

I will be in this exact same situation, except with a regular MA, and a year younger. One semester left.

So yeah, not that special. Every once in a while you see the supposed wunderkinds of the literary world, but I've never been impressed by anyone who has been marketed on age alone anyway-- to me, if there is something about the author that is special other than the writing itself, then the writing must be weak.

bunderful
06-22-2011, 10:08 PM
If you still want to mention it tactfully you could put it in with your degrees - like: BA in History from Harvard ('11) or something like that.

I've thought about doing that, but haven't - mostly because I want someone to fall in love with my writing no matter my age. But that is one way to do it without being obvious about it.

MJNL
06-22-2011, 10:18 PM
If you still want to mention it tactfully you could put it in with your degrees - like: BA in History from Harvard ('11) or something like that.

I've thought about doing that, but haven't - mostly because I want someone to fall in love with my writing no matter my age. But that is one way to do it without being obvious about it.

Actually, your degree falls into the same category. It doesn't matter. It doesn't take a degree to write a novel. Generally speaking, the only instance in which agents and editors want you to include this kind of info in a query is if it speaks directly to your expertise on the subject matter.

Say you've written a sci-fi novel about engineering a microorganism that takes over the planet. Then it would be pertinent to mention that you have a PhD in microbiology. But, if your degree is in history (like mine) there's nothing they can do with that info. It just takes up space on the page.

quicklime
06-22-2011, 11:05 PM
Agreeing with Marina.

Here is the issue with any of this age/ass-kissing/whatever else: Agents see tons of this stuff. They probably weren't stupid to begin with, certainly aren't now, and are also very jaded.

Being new doesn't mean you can't sell, but it seems fair advice not to scream "I'm new, don't know how this stuff works just yet, but hope my writing's good anyway!!!" Telling them your age, or that you have a history degree, or even an English degree, short of a MFA, also screams "new" by saying "I do not yet understand that this does not count as a real credit."

I know, I know, but you LIKE your degree. I like mine, too--it's a fancy PhD, even. But unless I'm writing a nonfiction book on cell signalling or POSSIBLY (doubtful even then) a book about someone dying of cancer, my degree doesn't prove I can write--it proves I got a PhD in biology. That's harsh, but it is also how it is; take the 2 cents and do with them as you will, but I think best case an agent ignores the passage, worst case it becomes one more tiny red flag to count in the query letter. I like to avoid as many red flags as I can, especially if they don't do anything at all to help.

Quick

Jessianodel
06-22-2011, 11:16 PM
Who wants to be known as that anyway? "Oh this writing is amazing, considering you're only that old." I just want amazing thank you.

Anne Lyle
06-22-2011, 11:23 PM
Actually, your degree falls into the same category. It doesn't matter. It doesn't take a degree to write a novel. Generally speaking, the only instance in which agents and editors want you to include this kind of info in a query is if it speaks directly to your expertise on the subject matter.


Precisely. For novelists, all agents care about, bio-wise, is

1. if you've been published by a respected fiction market: previous trade-published novels, short stories in well-known magazines in your genre

2. if your day-job expertise is directly related to your novel - police officer/lawyer/forensic scientist writing crime, that kind of thing

Anything else is irrelevant at the query stage. I have a degree in zoology and numerous non-fiction credits (mainly articles); never mentioned them in my queries.

xcomplex
06-23-2011, 03:46 PM
Thank you guys! I'm super excited because I've been trying since I was 14 and I really can't believe finally something is happening. Also, I think that so many young authors are going the self publishing route that I'd rather get a little older and go traditional because if you want something hard enough and work you'll end up getting that reward :D But anyways, I wish you all luck on your books and age is only a number.
Cheers!

JHFC
06-23-2011, 07:00 PM
Thank you guys! I'm super excited because I've been trying since I was 14 and I really can't believe finally something is happening. Also, I think that so many young authors are going the self publishing route that I'd rather get a little older and go traditional because if you want something hard enough and work you'll end up getting that reward :D But anyways, I wish you all luck on your books and age is only a number.
Cheers!

Good for you. I will never respect self-publishing, even if every publishing business went under and all that was left were e-books for download on personal sites.

quicklime
06-23-2011, 08:31 PM
Good for you. I will never respect self-publishing, even if every publishing business went under and all that was left were e-books for download on personal sites.


I don't self-pub either, but that sort of blanket statement is intentionally or accidentally ignorant to several facets of self-pubbing. It has limits, and isn't for me, but some have done incredibly well for it and I doubt they are "beneath yoru respect"

Jamesaritchie
06-23-2011, 08:50 PM
Who wants to be known as that anyway? "Oh this writing is amazing, considering you're only that old." I just want amazing thank you.

True, but we all want sales, as well, and being very young or very old when you publish your first novel gets you tons of publicity that you'd never get otherwise.

Newspapers, reviewers, critics, morning television shows, etc., all love the twelve year old who just wrote a publishable novel, or the eighty-eight year old who did the same after at an age where most are senile or dead.

JHFC
06-24-2011, 08:22 PM
I don't self-pub either, but that sort of blanket statement is intentionally or accidentally ignorant to several facets of self-pubbing. It has limits, and isn't for me, but some have done incredibly well for it and I doubt they are "beneath yoru respect"

People do well through drug dealing, also, not to be hyperbolic.

MJNL
06-24-2011, 08:36 PM
People do well through drug dealing, also, not to be hyperbolic.

That hardly seems like an astute analogy. After all, no one gets addicted if the book is bad.

quicklime
06-24-2011, 08:41 PM
People do well through drug dealing, also, not to be hyperbolic.


you're going to do well here....


*turns off sarcasm


Bottom line I have no interest in e-pubbing or particularly self-pubbing. But that sort of pissing is gonna get you booted shortly, just thought I'd inform you in case you were under the impression anyone smart enough to know what the fuck they are doing would surely be lining up behind your blanket-statements in adoration. When they say the first rule here is to respect your fellow writer, I strongly suspect, even though they didn't lay it out explicitly, that they meant "do not compare them to drug dealers for something you personally dislike and probsably don't understand..."


Welcome to AW.

Anne Lyle
06-24-2011, 08:43 PM
People do well through drug dealing, also, not to be hyperbolic.

Before this degenerates to the point where the moderators take notice, perhaps it's time for a reminder of the AW #1 rule:

RESPECT YOUR FELLOW WRITER

Tromboli
06-24-2011, 08:48 PM
One thing you've got to think about it how many others are querying at that age. Not how many are published at that age.

There are thousands of people in there 20s querying. Just because you've written a novel (even a non YA one) doesn't mean it's good. So even if you are young and have written a novel that doesn't necessarily mean you are anything special. Not until they've read the book and go "wow" does it actually mean anything.

Unless you already have 2+ published books at 23 is it (still arguably) worth mentioning.

p.s. I am 22.

BrassStotch
06-24-2011, 09:21 PM
Seems like a gimmick to me.

zander
06-25-2011, 08:23 AM
About the degree thing: I think if it's an intereresting and relevant degree from an impressive institution, I would mention it.

Let's say you're writing sci-fi and you have a PhD in Astrophysics from MIT. Mention that. If you're writing sci-fi and have a BS in Physics from the University of Michigan - (not that that isn't great), but it's not so earth-shatteringly impressive that it would prick up an agent's ears.

The same goes for any and all relevant bio information. Think like an agent. What's going to make them more eager to read your work? If you've got two years of combat experience in Afghanistan and you've written a thriller? Probably going to be more interesting to them.

If you're 23 and have an M.F.A. in creative writing? Not so much. (I have an M.F.A.)

Mr. Anonymous
06-26-2011, 01:42 AM
Others will (and have) counseled you otherwise, but as a 21 year old aspiring writer myself, I would advise you to include your age.

It does help. How do I know? Because my agent told me so (I was 20 when I queried.) Now, obviously, nobody is going to take you on just cause of your age. But age can make editors/agents more excited. Publishers like young writers with long careers ahead of them, and agents like what publishers like. And even the agents who reject you may be willing to take a little extra time, possibly give you some advice, etc, on account of your age (again, speaking from personal experience in this regard.) And, worst case scenario, a brief note citing your age can't hurt you in any conceivable way. (no editor/agent worth his/her salt would have his/her opinions of the book swayed by the author's age.)

All you have to say is something like,

My name is XXXX. I am 23 years old and recently graduated with a degree in philosophy from XXX college.

The fact is that just in the same way that we get excited about who an agent is once they've requested, start looking up their interviews, blog posts etc, agents also get excited when they read a query + sample pages that they think is good (always include 5-10 pgs with your query unless explicitly asked not to.) Their eyes might glaze over your biographical information on the first read, but if they like the first 5-10, you can bet they'll be returning to your query to see who the hell you are. lol.

Also, Zander, I would definitely mention having an MFA. Obviously, the weight this statement carries will depend on the institution you graduated from and it won't make up for the agent not liking the manuscript. But like with age, it can only help you, I think.

kellion92
06-26-2011, 02:49 AM
Mr. Anonymous's experience notwithstanding, leading with your age sounds not-ready-for-primetime. I'd slot it into the bio graf -- "I'm currently a X major at Y uni," "I graduated from X uni in 2011."

I think certain degree info (well-known schools, MFAs) is important to certain agents (the ones whose sites brag about their own credentials and those of their clients) and certain genres (obviously non-fiction, but also literary fiction).

quicklime
06-26-2011, 03:38 AM
note mr. anaonymous was significantly younger...

Jamesaritchie
06-26-2011, 07:56 PM
Others will (and have) counseled you otherwise, but as a 21 year old aspiring writer myself, I would advise you to include your age.

It does help. How do I know? Because my agent told me so (I was 20 when I queried.) Now, obviously, nobody is going to take you on just cause of your age. But age can make editors/agents more excited. Publishers like young writers with long careers ahead of them, and agents like what publishers like. And even the agents who reject you may be willing to take a little extra time, possibly give you some advice, etc, on account of your age (again, speaking from personal experience in this regard.) And, worst case scenario, a brief note citing your age can't hurt you in any conceivable way. (no editor/agent worth his/her salt would have his/her opinions of the book swayed by the author's age.)

All you have to say is something like,

My name is XXXX. I am 23 years old and recently graduated with a degree in philosophy from XXX college.

The fact is that just in the same way that we get excited about who an agent is once they've requested, start looking up their interviews, blog posts etc, agents also get excited when they read a query + sample pages that they think is good (always include 5-10 pgs with your query unless explicitly asked not to.) Their eyes might glaze over your biographical information on the first read, but if they like the first 5-10, you can bet they'll be returning to your query to see who the hell you are. lol.

Also, Zander, I would definitely mention having an MFA. Obviously, the weight this statement carries will depend on the institution you graduated from and it won't make up for the agent not liking the manuscript. But like with age, it can only help you, I think.

Your agent is seriously confused, and may well be harming your chances. The only excitement anyone I know gets from a twenty year old is when someone else reads the query so I don't have to.

Publishers like writers with books millions of readers will buy, and while a long career is a good thing, twenty has nothing to do with it. Writers who start in their forties often have longer and more prolific careers than ones who start at twenty. This is writing, not pro football.

Don't get me wrong, I love finding out a writer is twenty AFTER I find out he's written a great book, but not before. If I find out his age first, my expectations go way, way down. Experience has shown me that not one twenty year old in ten thousand yet knows enough about writing, or about life, to write anything original, anything I haven't seen five hundred times, even if he writes well.

I agree about an MFA. If you have an MFA, or even an English degree, you;re an idiot if you don't mention it. But the world is just chock full of twenty year old writers who simply can't write well, or simply don't yet know enough about life, even if they do write well, and a query that tells me your twenty is not doing you any favors.

When an agent or editor needs to know your age, they'll ask. Telling them beforehand is just not wise.

Mr. Anonymous
06-26-2011, 08:32 PM
The only excitement anyone I know gets from a twenty year old is when someone else reads the query so I don't have to.

Right, but this can change very quickly if that person reads the first 5-10and thinks, wow, this is good. Moreover, if the query itself is engaging and well-written (a rarity, I know), how would a short note of the author's age after the mini-synopsis put you off?

Furthermore, mentioning this to agents, I should say, is different from mentioning this fact to editors (to address the concern that my agent could be hurting my chances.) Editors already know of my agent, know the kinds of stuff she's sent them before. I doubt they'd think she would send them the work of a 20 year old writer that she didn't believe 100% was good enough to be published.

I think the vast majority of people of any age can't write well or can't effectively use their life experience to write something worth reading. The problem isn't, I think, that 20 year olds haven't lived long enough. It's that not everyone has the time to write 3 practice novels and other stuff besides to figure out how to use what life experience they have to communicate a story worth reading.

I just know that I got a number of responses, even before I got picked up, that I probably wouldn't have gotten if the agents hadn't known my age. Those responses were part of what kept me going.

That said, I should probably make note of the fact that my novel is a YA, and there does seem to be some excitement among publishers about YA writing for YA.

suki
06-26-2011, 09:21 PM
Mr. Anonymous' experience runs contrary to every agent I've ever heard/read answer this question. And I'd argue that 23 is very different than 20, even for a YA author. If you land an agent for this book, you will likely be 25 or maybe even 26 by the time it is on book shelve stores. And then your age is irrelevant.

So maybe find out who Mr. Anonymous' agent is, and mention your age for him/her, but for many agents it could make you look like an amateur not ready to be querying, if it has any effect at all. ;)

~suki

bunderful
06-26-2011, 10:25 PM
I always mention my writing degree - I'm proud of it. I studied with a lot of really amazing writers at Johns Hopkins - it was a big deal that I got into the program and it totally shaped who I am as a writer today. I think that when you have an MFA you should totally mention it. You would be an idiot not to. Even if some agents say they pay no attention to that - others do and I would rather be a nobody with a degree in writing from a really established writing program than a nobody with no degree, no publishing credits, nada.

So yeah, if you have the other credits then leave it out, but if all you have is an MFA - why the heck not include it?

Age is one thing, but I think someone would be crazy not to say they have an MFA...