Monday, October 07, 2013

Question: How many candles?

I am a teen who is serious about writing. I've written several novels and am in the process of revising my query letter. I was wondering what your thoughts were about revealing my age to agents. Should I be vague and say that I'm a teen, should I say my exact age (13), or should I avoid what my age is all together? I'm worried that if agents see how young I am they won't take me seriously. So . . . thoughts?

I think you're right to understand that agents won't take your work seriously if you mention you're 13. It's ok to not mention your age at all.

Of course, if you are offered representation, your parents have to sign the agreement for you, as they will a publishing contract.

I was talking to an agent friend of mine who has the good fortune to look like a fresh faced young girl even though she's 30. When she was starting her career, and her young face was not a plus, she regularly finessed about her age. Not lie. Don't lie. But no one needs to know your exact arrival on the planet.

This works if you're concerned about being too old as well. 


Anonymous said...

I'm impressed with this young writer. A whole future for the "too old..." I suppose it would be risky signing on someone who's +70 or +80 because the publisher would worry they might "expire" before they recoup???

ROFL! *Sighs*

Well, it is a business.

Colin Smith said...

I just want to add my encouragement to this young writer. Whether or not you find an agent and get published at 13, I'm very impressed that you've found your passion and desire to pursue it at such a young age. You should be the envy of your peers!

I wish you every success. May you weather the disappointments that are inevitable in this business regardless of age, and persevere to publication. :)

Rachel said...

I really wish this writer all the best. I was 16 when I first searched for an agent. I learned a lot about writing and publishing, though I didn't find an agent. But it was still a great experience and I think it helped solidify that writing is something I really want to do.

I will say that there are some hurdles you may face that you should be prepared for. I recently sat down with an agent at a conference, and he's a pretty big name in my genre. I mentioned that I queried him at 16 and he told me that no matter how good, he doesn't sign anyone under 18 because "writers are difficult enough without having to go through their parents." This of course is not to warn you off querying, but to advise you that being under 18, you may encounter some reluctance from agents and editors to take you on, no matter how mature you are personally or how great your novel is, because of legal issues.

Definitely do not give up. If you get an agent and/or book deal, that's utterly fabulous and you should shout it from the rooftops and be oh so proud. But if not, don't be discouraged. Ten years later, I'm still writing, and I still love it. Still perfecting my craft, still making connections. Whatever your path ends up being, don't let obstacles and rejections get you down, and always take yourself seriously.

The Magic Violinist said...

Thanks for the advice, Ms. Reid. :) And thank you so much for all of the kind comments!

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

When I started querying I never revealed that AARP is tattooed on my ass.
But, as I aged and as my column spread far and, not as wide as I'd like it too but wider than before, age became a plus.
The only thing I'm too young for now is the great-demise, but then again, aren't we all.

You have no idea what a plus your age is. By the time the agents figure that out, you'll be old enough, even if you aren't. It's about experience honey, experience.

LynnRodz said...

You're either too young or too old! What happened to that wonderful age when you looked great and you felt great and you were mature enough not to do stupid things, but young enough to still have fun doing crazy things and your body could still follow your brain? Oh that's right, I was young and then I blinked and I was old! Not really, I still think I'm young - well, as long as I don't look in a mirror and then ask myself, "who is that?"

Magic Violinist, all the best to you. To already know you want to be an author at 13 is wonderful! (At 13 I was wondering if I wanted to wear bobby socks to school the next day or tights!)

Erica Eliza said...

Adult authors don't put their age in their query. It's not important. Plot is important. Characters are important. Writing experience is important. Everything else is superficial.
Since publishing is a long process, it's good to start young. If you want to be published at 25, you're better off starting at 13 than 24.

Stephanie Faris said...

I wish I'd really buckled down and tried writing at 13! I was writing cheesy poetry, but I didn't have the confidence to write an entire novel, let alone try to get one published. I read a really good YA novel that was written by a was really good. I can't remember the author or the book, but it was only a few years ago. And, of course, there's "The Outsiders," written by 16-year-old S.E. Hinton. Since the initials disguised her gender, I'm guessing she disguised her age initially...from everyone.

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

Don't worry. You won't always be thirteen. Blink, and five years will pass. (Okay, it might not feel like it for you.)

You might sign the first agent you pitch. You might not. It could very well take you five years before Stuff Happens.

My first sale (short story) happened when I was a minor.

Don't let your age be a barrier to you. Don't worry about it being a barrier to anyone else, either. You still have a good seventy years left to your career. The pace of the industry is such that these short-short five years you have left of your minority are but a brief moment in the Grand Scheme.

If an agent turns you down purely based on age, all you need to do to solve that issue is wait. Query others while you're waiting.

And by all means, keep working on your craft! You can only improve.

Kitty said...

My daughter has always looked young for her age. (The fact she wears size zero jeans helps.) One of the jobs she held, while working her way through college, was in the hospital lab. Her lab coat hung on her, and she had to roll the sleeves up several times, which made her look even younger. This can be a problem with patients who think you're too young to know what you're doing. When my daughter tried to draw blood from one gray-haired patient, the woman yanked her arm away and asked, What is this, take your daughter to work today?

dylan said...

Dear Ms Reid (and MV)

Teens have been signed. I draw your attention to a JR post called:

"Have I mentioned I have a Dartboard of Envy?"

Which included the following quote:

"I was ready to heave myself out the window for missing that query when Joanna [Volpe]iced the cake: she called author Kody Keplinger to discuss representation, only to discover Kody wasn't old enough to sign a contract without her mom co-signing."