Querulous about Ages

Miss Snark, I'm working on a book right now and I'm about halfway finished. I'm 17 and will be turning 18 in August. I was wondering something. If I finish the book and query an agent when I'm still 17, would the agent take me seriously? Should I wait until I turn 18 to try and query or still attempt to query an agent when I finish the book, even if I'm still 17?

If you're worried about not being taken seriously because of your dewy youth, don't mention your age. You'd be shocked, shocked! at how many people don't mention their ages in query letters. In fact, the ones that do generally are ancient, and they don't realize that's not a big plus in my book at all...not that there is anything wrong with being ancient; I plan on being it myself one of these days.

Remember too, you can't sign a contract without a parent or guardian's signature if you are under 18 as well.


Anonymous said...

I don't know how much editing you're doing as you write, but consider that once you've written 'The End', unless you are several standard deviations to the right of the bell curve, you will most likely have to edit the snot out of it. You may not be ready to query agents until you're eighteen.

Anyway, I'd wait to fret over that issue when you start your queries. And I think Miss Snark's advice is right on the money, don't mention your age. Let the agent select your story based on the merits of your submission.

Anonymous said...

Dear Agent:

I'm writing a memoir called "Angela's Ashes," a story of growing up in poverty with an alcoholic father and an overworked mother in Ireland during the 1930s and...oh, wait! Don't take that literally. I'm actually a young man, and have many years of writing ahead of me.

Eileen said...

I am always impressed on this blog how many young writers there are who are completing novel length manuscripts. I didn't have my act together at 17 to forge a full length note to skip gym class let alone a whole book. Whatever happened to having a mispent youth?

Anonymous said...

Whatever happened to having a mispent youth?

In my on-line activities, I've come across quite a few teen writers. A lot of them seem to spend their time writing porn for one another.

Well... It's less dangerous than smoking or driving around in fast cars, I suppose.

kathie said...

Good luck Kiddo,
How I wish I had moved my stories from in my head, to paper at your age. That's so great.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to know there are young writers out there - the art of print will survive the cyber revolution.

But, with some authors talking it took them an average of 5 years to sell their first book, the odds that youth will win over experience seems unlikely.

Many writers write well b/c they have more emotional depth and life experience to put into their characters than they would have at 17.

Writing well at age 16 or 17 is like doing anything else at that age - you truly believe you're at your zenith.

Ahh..the arrogance of youth.

That may fly in pro basketball, but I don't think it applies as well to writing.

It seems the average age of a first-time author is early 30's (no stats to back this up...just batting at a number). So with any luck, those who start out early will still get published earlier...but I'm thinking 20, not while still in the teens.

Jarred Endres said...

Thanks for the help Miss Snark. I'll just wait until I turn 18 to query so I won't have to have a parental signature.

(To the person that asked if I was editing - I am, heavily. I usually write a chapter and it's pretty rough as it is, so I go back and fix things and also add to it to make it better. If I did as much writing as I did editing, I'd be done by now. Ha.)

Jarred Endres said...

To the anonymous person above me:

I don't really believe I'm at my zenith. I can always improve and I hope to keep getting better and I'll keep studying, reading, and writing if it will help me to.

I love to write so why should I wait until I'm a few years older to do what I already know I want to do now? I know that it doesn't necessarily pay the bills so I'll get a job but I'm still going to try to get my work published.

Anonymous said...

Speaking from the middle of the age spectrum, I don't feel anyone has to mature 'sufficiently' to write. I do think that nearly everyone can benefit from different eyeballs on ones work to ferret out the typos, boners, and other things you don't want to send to a publisher or agent because you'd run the risk of being rejected before they get to the content.

Find a critique group. One I participate in is Critique Circle at http://www.critiquecircle.com I think it's an excellent resource and the basic membership is free. A successful freelance writer who participates there got a contract to 'ghost' write an English version for a thirteen year old Chinese girl's book. So I say, go for it.

Renee Luke said...

Going out on a huge limb here and disagreeing with Miss Snark a little.

If--big IF--you're writing something that makes your age important then I think you should mention it. Are you writing YA? Does your age show that you'd be very tapped into the market? Are you writing about high school, relationships with parents?

Does your age make you connected to the plots of your stories? Who better to tell us about what's going on at that age, then someone that age?

If you're writing something that has nothng to do with your age or generation leave it off.