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View Full Version : How does age of author factor in a book getting picked up?



sense
12-13-2011, 11:11 AM
I'm writing a memoir that will cover up to age 22. I'm not much older now, but if I were to stop and come back to this project in the future, I would still focus on the same period of time (up to age 22 when there was a significant medical event in my life).

Is there an advantage to me finishing the memoir and shopping it as soon as possible? Or does my age in relation to the ages I'm writing about make no difference, and it simply depends on how good the story/writing is? (in the latter case, perhaps waiting and allowing my insights to mature would help the writing).

Would say a 24 year old writer get more attention than a 30 year old? Or would the older writer get more interest because his peer demographic tends to buy more books anyway?

Terie
12-13-2011, 12:15 PM
An author's age is irrelevant in picking up an agent. It's all about the manuscript. The author's age will mostly not be a factor at all, unless the publisher who contracts the book sees some kind of marketing angle.

Medievalist
12-13-2011, 12:31 PM
You need to be old enough to sign a contract, or have a legal parent or guardian sign on your behalf; otherwise, it doesn't really matter.

sense
12-13-2011, 01:37 PM
Yeah, I suppose I was thinking about it in terms of marketing. Does a younger author stand out more, get more reviews, buzz, etc. And if age does affect the marketing, how much does that aspect of marketing affect the book getting picked up.

Thanks for the responses.

mccardey
12-13-2011, 01:42 PM
Well, you're getting a bit cart-before-horse about it, that's the problem. If you write a stonkingly good book that an agent can sell to a publisher, and you happen to be 22, then the publisher's marketing department will likely feel they can make some mileage out of that in terms of publicity - but that is predicated on you getting any publicity in the first place, which would be on the strength of the stonkingly good book rather than on being 22.

See? Clear as mud?

Focus on writing a stonkingly good book, but don't fret too much if you don't get it done before next birthday ;)

Good luck with it :)


ETA: For 22, you can read 24 and it still holds true, although it's even less interesting in terms of publicity. (Sorry - got my numbers wrong). And don't forget, publishing is pretty glacial, so even if you were to finish writing the book at 24, you'd likely be a bit older by the time it hit the stands.

Terie
12-13-2011, 01:45 PM
Yeah, I suppose I was thinking about it in terms of marketing. Does a younger author stand out more, get more reviews, buzz, etc. And if age does affect the marketing, how much does that aspect of marketing affect the book getting picked up.

Thanks for the responses.

Sorry, but 22 isn't an interesting age from a marketing point of view. 13 is; so is 89 (for a first-time author). :)

None of it matters to agents beyond needing to get an underage client's parents signatures on contracts.

Marketing is part of the publisher's job after a book is contracted. Agents are only interested in manuscripts they can sell to publishers. Publishers don't even care about the author's age when considering picking up a book. The only folks who care are the marketing folks, who, if the author is an interesting age, can use that in the marketing.

But as I said, 22 simply isn't an interesting age. There are loads of published authors in their early 20s. Being 22 will neither help nor hinder you; it's irrelevant.

So get the book finished and start querying it. :D

mccardey
12-13-2011, 01:57 PM
I'm writing a memoir that will cover up to age 22. I'm not much older now, but if I were to stop and come back to this project in the future, I would still focus on the same period of time (up to age 22 when there was a significant medical event in my life).

Is there an advantage to me finishing the memoir and shopping it as soon as possible? Or does my age in relation to the ages I'm writing about make no difference, and it simply depends on how good the story/writing is? (in the latter case, perhaps waiting and allowing my insights to mature would help the writing).

Would say a 24 year old writer get more attention than a 30 year old? Or would the older writer get more interest because his peer demographic tends to buy more books anyway?

As to the bolded part of your question - hmmm.... The book might indeed benefit from distance and reflection - though you might also risk losing some immediacy and relevance if you do wait. (Not relevance based on your age, I'm thinking more social relevance). 'S one of those imponderables you'll have to decide for yourself.

That wasn't much help, was it? Sorry... It's just that you did ask ;)

sense
12-13-2011, 03:48 PM
As to the bolded part of your question - hmmm.... The book might indeed benefit from distance and reflection - though you might also risk losing some immediacy and relevance if you do wait. (Not relevance based on your age, I'm thinking more social relevance). 'S one of those imponderables you'll have to decide for yourself.

That wasn't much help, was it? Sorry... It's just that you did ask ;)

yeah, I was thinking about relevance. my "issue"'s relevance may have an expiration date. so it's probably best I not be too patient when writing this thing.

shaldna
12-13-2011, 04:17 PM
Age isn't a factor in getting picked up, aside from the legal aspects.

However, it can be a great marketing point. For instance, if you were fifteen and this was your first book then that fact would help generate interest becase it's not the norm. Likewise if you were about to turn 90 and this was you first book, either would be great human interest stories.

Terie
12-13-2011, 04:23 PM
yeah, I was thinking about relevance. my "issue"'s relevance may have an expiration date. so it's probably best I not be too patient when writing this thing.

I agree. Here's the thing. If you write a powerful story now that a publisher thinks will sell, you'll sell the book now, and YAY! If it happens that your outlook and/or writing aren't mature enough, you'll collect a batch of rejection slips. BUT....if the latter occurs, it's not the end of the world. You wait a few years, writing other books, and then you come back to this one as a better writer/more mature person, and you rewrite it and try again. No writing is ever wasted, because it's all part of the process of becoming a writer.

And if, as you suspect, the topic is perishable, if you wait, it might be too late.

In essence, there are no really major 'cons' to writing it now -- the worst that could happen is that all you get is rejection slips -- while there is a possible (and powerful!) 'pro' -- selling the book. Whereas waiting has a meaningful 'con' -- the topic going out of date. If I were in your shoes, I'd be writing it now.

So off you go then.....get writing. :D

Ken
12-21-2011, 02:55 AM
... does relative age have the potential to effect marketability? Really couldn't say. If you wait, though, there's something else to consider. Some of the details and lingo in your memoir may become a bit dated. Popular culture moves quickly, and can change an awful lot in 5 years. That may or may not matter, depending on the type of memoir you've written. If it's very topical, I'd say get it out now! If not, relax. G'luck.

blacbird
12-21-2011, 12:34 PM
The probability of an agent taking on a writer's manuscript is inversely proportional to the annual accounting of the chronological success of that writer.

caw

jaksen
12-22-2011, 04:46 PM
I don't think age much matters. If your book or memoir is interesting and well-written and says something new about life - and will sell - then that's what an agent who handles memoirs will care about.