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View Full Version : What age were you when your fiction writing was first published professionally?



StuToYou
07-22-2016, 09:44 PM
Just thought about this from another thread. I'm guessing the majority will be in the 35-40 bracket, but it might be interesting to see.

Poll coming. (Anonymous)

'Professionally' in this case to mean paid (with money) for your work (of any length).

Gilroy Cullen
07-22-2016, 10:43 PM
You forgot not yet. :)

Disa
07-22-2016, 11:02 PM
You didn't say paid how? Actual money? Contributor's copies? Tarot Decks and other misc. goodies?

Richard White
07-22-2016, 11:08 PM
Sold my first professional work at 15 (working as a reporter for a small town newspaper covering events at the school eventually moving to sports editor at the paper by 17).
Made a living writing reports for the Army starting at 25 until I was 40.
Sold my first comic at 33.
Sold my first short story at 39.
Started working as a Technical Writer/Editor at 40 (still doing that).
Sold my first novel at 45.

Basically, I've written my entire life.

Diana_Rajchel
07-23-2016, 03:02 AM
I too started with a news writing gig at 17. Wrote for years after, got an article published at 22 and at least yearly ever after that.

Haggis
07-23-2016, 03:14 AM
You think people can't get their first publishing credits after they turn 60?

CassandraW
07-23-2016, 03:17 AM
You think people can't get their first publishing credits after they turn 60?

Frank McCourt (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angela%27s_Ashes) will be bummed about that.

amergina
07-23-2016, 03:19 AM
I put down 40-45 as I was nearly 41 when my first novel was published.

But I've been working as a tech writer for pay since I was 22.

lizmonster
07-23-2016, 04:27 AM
I'm the outlier, I see. :) But I also haven't been submitting all these years.

Haggis
07-23-2016, 05:22 AM
Frank McCourt (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angela%27s_Ashes) will be bummed about that.

Not anymore.

StuToYou
07-23-2016, 05:28 AM
You think people can't get their first publishing credits after they turn 60?
People write after 60???


Yes, thought that might be mentioned, but I feel nine choices is enough for a poll.

I mean, I'm sure there's 90 yr olds out there who're published professionally for the first time, but well...those outliers won't skew the data too much.


Just to add, paid in money re a post above.

StuToYou
07-23-2016, 05:30 AM
I put down 40-45 as I was nearly 41 when my first novel was published.

But I've been working as a tech writer for pay since I was 22.
I meant for works of fiction really, can't seem to change the question on the poll now.

CEtchison
07-23-2016, 05:30 AM
Started working as a news reporter at 23. First novel published at 44.

Helix
07-23-2016, 05:37 AM
What's your hypothesis here, Stu?

StuToYou
07-23-2016, 05:41 AM
What's your hypothesis here, Stu?
My hypothesis is that the data will peak/cluster around the 40yr mark.

Why is this useful to know?

Well, in another thread a 27 yr old writer mentioned a sort of 'when will it happen' question.

And I've heard that before from young writers.

I think it might be useful for writers, especially those in their 20's and 30's to get a sense of the statistical curve.

Haggis
07-23-2016, 05:47 AM
People write after 60???


Yes, thought that might be mentioned, but I feel nine choices is enough for a poll.

I mean, I'm sure there's 90 yr olds out there who're published professionally for the first time, but well...those outliers won't skew the data too much.


Just to add, paid in money re a post above.

Fine. I'll go back to the Home and have my cookies and brandy and look forward to tomorrow. It's green Jello day.

Helix
07-23-2016, 05:50 AM
My hypothesis is that the data will peak around the 40yr mark.

Why is this useful to know?

Well, in another thread a 27 yr old writer mentioned a sort of 'when will it happen' question.

And I've heard that before from young writers.

I think it might be useful for writers, especially those in their 20's and 30's to get a sense of the statistical curve.

What's the question you're trying to answer? Because just knowing when a small number of people made their first professional sale is not all that useful. What you'd probably be better off asking is a) when did people first starting writing [long-from/short-form] fiction (if that's what you're interested in); b) when did they start submitting; c) when did they make their first sale; and d) when did they make their nth sale.

StuToYou
07-23-2016, 05:50 AM
Fine. I'll go back to the Home and have my cookies and brandy and look forward to tomorrow. It's green Jello day.

Tell me they don't...mix the cookies and brandy into the jello....

Helix
07-23-2016, 05:51 AM
Fine. I'll go back to the Home and have my cookies and brandy and look forward to tomorrow. It's green Jello day.

Better make sure those cookies are pre-softened, Haggis. Or the haggis is pre-softened, Cookie.

*starts yelling at clouds*

StuToYou
07-23-2016, 05:53 AM
What's the question you're trying to answer? Because just knowing when a small number of people made their first professional sale is not all that useful. What you'd probably be better off asking is a) when did people first starting writing [long-from/short-form] fiction (if that's what you're interested in); b) when did they start submitting; c) when did they make their first sale; and d) when did they make their nth sale.

Well, that's one way to go, for sure.

But really I'm addressing the 'when will it happen' thingy (being published professionally), and using age as a indicator, taking other factors (age one started writing, amt of time spent on writing etc) as given.

Haggis
07-23-2016, 05:54 AM
Tell me they don't...mix the cookies and brandy into the jello....

cray's in charge of that. One never knows.

Helix
07-23-2016, 05:55 AM
Well, that's one way to go, for sure.

But really I'm addressing the 'when will it happen' thingy, and using age as a indicator, taking other factors (age one started writing, amt of time spent on writing etc) as given.

There's your problem: Not everyone starts at the same time. And what about the people who never make a sale?

MaeZe
07-23-2016, 05:57 AM
How bad is it when you don't even have my age group on your poll? :cry:

I only started writing fiction 4.5 years ago and I just now got my first short story published. Token fee but it is real money.

As a proud late bloomer, I'm a couple years off your scale. :Thumbs:

AW Admin
07-23-2016, 05:57 AM
My hypothesis is that the data will peak/cluster around the 40yr mark.

Why is this useful to know?

Well, in another thread a 27 yr old writer mentioned a sort of 'when will it happen' question.

And I've heard that before from young writers.

I think it might be useful for writers, especially those in their 20's and 30's to get a sense of the statistical curve.

Given the use base at AW, I think you're making all sorts of ridiculous assumptions.

StuToYou
07-23-2016, 06:00 AM
There's your problem: Not everyone starts at the same time. And what about the people who never make a sale?

Helix, it's a rule-of-thumb type survey. To eliminate distorting variables, form a control group, etc etc, is using up more whiskey time than I can invest at the moment.

I think it will be useful, I don't expect anyone will be entering the data/results into the Nobel Prize Committee

CassandraW
07-23-2016, 06:01 AM
That's why I brought up McCourt. To my knowledge, he never tried to write anything until Angela's Ashes. He was in his sixties. And he won a Pulitzer for it.

I've been writing poetry for many years. But I've never tried getting any of it published. If I never bother to submit any until I'm 70, you could say I wrote for more than half a century without being published -- but it wouldn't provide much insight into how long it takes to get published.

StuToYou
07-23-2016, 06:01 AM
Given the use base at AW, I think you're making all sorts of ridiculous assumptions.

Might be best to scrap it so. Can you do that? Not sure I can.

Helix
07-23-2016, 06:04 AM
Helix, it's a rule-of-thumb type survey. To eliminate distorting variables, form a control group, etc etc, is using up more whiskey time than I can invest at the moment.

I think it will be useful, I don't expect anyone will be entering the data/results into the Nobel Prize Committee

No need for a control. What you need to find out is the time between first writing and first sale. That's still not very useful, but it's a lot more useful than this poll.

lizmonster
07-23-2016, 06:06 AM
There's your problem: Not everyone starts at the same time. And what about the people who never make a sale?

Yeah, this was my point.

I subbed one short to one place when I was 22, and it got rejected. The next time I wrote something with an eye to publication, I was 47. Querying that book got me my agent, and it makes up half of my first published novel, which came out earlier this year (I'm now 51). Not sure what "amount of time spent writing" would mean - depending on how you measure it, it's either 4 years or 29 (or, since I started writing fiction when I was 5, 46).

I do think it's an interesting question, but I don't think the poll as stated provides much useful data. I don't think my story is average, but I suspect ​nobody's story is average.

lizmonster
07-23-2016, 06:09 AM
Might be best to scrap it so. Can you do that? Not sure I can.

Actually, I'm enjoying reading the discussion. :) I know it's not what you were going for, but I'd love to hear people's stories.

brainstorm77
07-23-2016, 05:07 PM
I was 35. I had written a novel about 10 years before that, but it wasn't publishable.

slhuang
07-23-2016, 05:17 PM
I'm not sure how to answer this poll. If we use "paid money for fiction/poetry" as the metric, I was published before I was 15. But it was mostly in "young voices" types of publications.

From about the time I was 13 or 14 until 2 years ago, I wrote all the time but made no attempt to publish anything. I did begin being paid for my writing again pretty immediately upon deciding to publish/submit, but I'm not sure how useful that data point is, because it came after a lifetime of writing and a long period of intentionally not publishing.

PeteMC
07-23-2016, 05:19 PM
I sold my first novel last year when I was 43. I'd had a couple of odd bits out before, but that's the first thing I count as "professional".

Dennis E. Taylor
07-23-2016, 06:27 PM
Hmm. I was concerned that it might be limited to fiction. I wrote an article for a computer mag when I was 24, for which I received the princely sum of $50.

Then nothing--by which I mean no attempts at writing anything--until I was 57.

Jamesaritchie
07-23-2016, 10:50 PM
Just thought about this from another thread. I'm guessing the majority will be in the 35-40 bracket, but it might be interesting to see.

Poll coming. (Anonymous)

'Professionally' in this case to mean paid (with money) for your work (of any length).

I was twenty-six. I didn't write a short story or a novel until I was twenty-six, even in school, so I couldn't sell one earlier. I sold the first short story I ever wrote to a national magazine, and received slightly more money than my day job paid in a month. I wrote my first novel in three weeks, it was picked up by the first agent I queried, who sold it to the first publisher who saw it.

I've known or read about a fairly large number of writers who had exactly the same experience, but at different ages. They decided to sit down and write a story, and it sold. They rinsed and repeated, and continued to sell, whether they were eighteen or eighty.

If you discount teens who simply have no experience, I think age is completely meaningless. When I first started writing, the general consensus was that, assuming you were writing regularly, putting in as much time as you should, then five years was the magic number. If you weren't selling five years after you started trying, you would probably never succeed, regardless of the age you were when you started trying. There are exceptions to everything, but I think this was true then, and true now. Talent shows up early, and lack of talent does the same.

zmethos
07-24-2016, 12:50 AM
I sold my first story to a magazine when I was 27. That same year I also sold a poem to a fairly respectable lit journal. Then took a 7-year break from writing before selling a stage play and going on steadily from there.