1. Hazel B-S
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    Hazel B-S Member

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    Age and publishing

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Hazel B-S, Jan 1, 2014.

    Are publishers less likely to publish me if I'm a certain age? I'm 16, but I think that if I try really hard I'll be publishing standard, but will I be turned away simply because of age?
     
  2. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    I suspect that money is money. If your work is good, they'll publish it because they will make money.
     
  3. indy5live
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    indy5live Active Member

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    In terms of new writers; publisher's don't really care who the author is, they care about the story and if they think there's a market for it. So your chances are as good as any. Singing, writing, acting, etc. if you have talent, age doesn't matter except on the business side, like contracts and child labor laws, etc. but if they like your story, they'll figure out all that for you.
     
  4. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Publishers won't have a clue as to your age, unless you tell them. The quality of your work, and its potential to sell and earn a profit, is what's important to them.

    Depending on where you live/jurisdiction, your age might be a factor in signing a contract, but that is something that has been worked through before and would be worked through again. In truth, if you've not written anything novel length, it'll probably take at least a year to accomplish that (getting it ready for submission--the multiple drafts, revisions/editing), and then the time it takes to secure a publisher (either through an agent representing you--which will take time, or approaching publishers directly). And that's with your first project, which for many writers, never sells.

    If you're talking about short fiction/stories, that might a more compressed timeframe, as they take less time to write, but often markets take from weeks to months to decide on accepting or rejecting a story.

    The best thing to do is to write and produce the best stories that you can, and seek to get them published as you deem the best route/publishers, etc., and not worry about your age.
     
  5. Nyghtfall
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    Nyghtfall Member

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    Stephen King once said one really great thing about the industry is that it doesn't care how old you are.
     
  6. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    How would they know? A publisher looks at your manuscript not your history. To them you're a name above the first page of the manuscript and on the query letter.

    But that aside, I may have bad news. All that work and study you've been doing in English class to perfect your writing skill over the years? It's meant to make you useful to an employer so you can be a self-supporting adult. They're skills most adults need, which means nonfiction writing. To make it worse you're learning general, not profession specific skills. So those math classes don't make an accountant or mathematician of us and the English classes don't make us scriptwriters, journalists, or professional fiction writers.

    Here's the thing. When your manuscript lands on the editor's desk that editor isn't looking for someone as good as their current writers. They have plenty of "just as good as," writers. And given that your name is unknown and you need great reviews to get people looking for your work, you need to be, "Oh my god what a great book," level to sell that first story. Not great news given that you've already decided what you're going to buy with all those royalties. But the truth is that if your first pages were mixed with the first pages of ten writers on the bookshelves now, not only must the editor not be able to tell that you're the one new writer of the bunch, s/he has to select yours as the best of the batch if they're to say yes.

    And those storytelling skills your friends and teachers complement you on? More bad news. They're performance skills and all of the emotional part of the story—the part that entertains—is carried in voice, gesture, and expression, none of which make it to the page.

    But forget all that, along with the standard rich and famous contract you were hoping would be coming your way by spring. And forget the idea of your creative writing class being the springboard that will propel you to success. Here's how to get a big head-start on others like yourself who hope to become successful writers, while at the same time getting better marks for your English class writing assignments.

    Two paths. One easy but costs. One cheap but a bit harder:

    Easy: Pick up Deb Dixon's GMC: Goal Motivation & Conflict. She'll help you understand the structure that underlies fiction and drives it. You'll lean how to place the reader in the scene, as the protagonist, in real-time. You'll acquire the vocabulary, the backstage tricks, and even learn why to avoid a line like, "Neil leaned back in his chair and smiled when Stella came through the doorway." :eek:

    If money is a problem the free solution is to check the local library system for Jack Bickham's, Scene and Structure. It was written by a man who sold seventy-five novels, and taught professional fiction writing at Oklahoma University for decades.

    Either way, take your time reading the book. Play with each new concept as it's introduced till you have a feel for what it can do to help your storytelling. And then, six months later, read it again, and you'll get as much the second time.

    I wish I had better news. But like any other profession, it looks easy when you view the finished product.

    But of most importance: hang in there, and keep on writing.
     
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  7. Nyghtfall
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    Nyghtfall Member

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    I recently saw a YouTube video in which Dean Koontz recalled his first experience working with an editor.

    After reading Dean's 940-page manuscript for a novel called Strangers, the editor said he was going to show Dean two things. First, how to cut one-third of the manuscript, and then to delete four of the twelve main characters. When Dean got the manuscript back six weeks later, the cover letter read, "As you'll note, I've Red-lined everywhere, throughout the script, paragraphs or lines that I think could be cut and not effect the quality of the book. These amount to ten pages. All you need to do is find the other 300."
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    bottom line #1:
    don't mention how old you are!... it won't be an issue till you [hopefully] have to sign a contract...

    bottom line #2:
    write well enough and tell a good/marketable enough story so it won't matter how old/young you are...
     
  9. Thornesque
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    Thornesque Contributing Member

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    Can I just ask? How many of Jack Bickham's students, and Deb Dixon's readers, are now best-selling authors? Or, hell. Let's go for this. What percentage are published authors? It's one thing for an author to say, "This is what I did, and apparently, there was something right about it, so you should do it, too!" It's another thing if that actually panned out for their pupils.
     
  10. O. Snow
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    O. Snow Member

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    Forget what might happen and what people will tell you will happen and all of that other garbage. The only way you can really know if they'll publish you is by trying to get published, you can't be afraid to fail. After all, nothing would happen if we were only ever concerned with what might go wrong. Really in the end it's better not to even think about publishers until you're about to submit your manuscript. I believe the key is to keep writing because you believe in yourself and in your vision. If you truly believe you have a story to tell, then tell it. I've always found that art I made for money can sell, but never brings me the true happiness that making honest heartfelt art does. So don't worry, just keep writing, and if you keep trying then you will find success.
     
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  11. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I'll add to this. I imagine once they discover that this potentially best-selling book they've just accepted was written by a 16-year-old, their visions of marketing you as their author will become rosy indeed! However, it does have to be that kind of quality to get you to first base. Until then, I'd keep your age a secret.
     
  12. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    The professional writing workshops that Jack Bickham and Dwight Swain taught are, legendary, and at the time they were running, the attendee list read like a who's who of American fiction writers. If you've read Jim Butcher's work, he attended that university's current program and was selling his work in his junior rear, so the tradition continues. There is no list of people who attended Oklahoma U's professional writing workshops available, but several things relate. First, when Dwight Swain used to do his all day workshops on tour he filled auditoriums, he was so respected. In fact, they sell recordings of them that are a great introduction to characterization and structure, and worth the $6 just for the anecdotes on publishers and editors. And a glance at the many pages of comments on Amazon for Techniques of the Selling Writer explains why. Many of the reviewers credit his teachings with their publishing success.

    For Bickham's, Scene and Structure this comment relates: "Jack Bickham's SCENE & STRUCTURE should be on every novelist's and aspiring novelist's bookshelf. A number of years ago, my critique group came across this little gem and we started critiquing ourselves with the focus of making sure we all were writing quality scenes and maintaining excellent scene structure every single time. Within 18 months all the writers in my group had gone from unpublished to published with major NY publishers!"

    And now let me ask: Is it your intention to convert every thread in which I comment into a Thornesque verses Jay debate on education verses winging it? I already know that you write only for yourself and believe that you're making great progress toward satisfying yourself. We know that I don't believe writers should satisfy themselves in public. Why annoy the nice people here with a repeat performance?
     
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  13. eleutheria
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    eleutheria Member

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    Good question. Of course, they weren't the ones to bring up the topic in a post asking about how age effects publishing chances.
     
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  14. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    The OP asked a question that implied they were thinking about about to submitting their work. That question had been answered several times. In fact I answered it, too. But there's a much deeper problem, one that it's unlikely that she's aware of.

    Yes, I could have ignored the fact that at sixteen the young lady has only the nonfiction techniques we're given in school, and using them is a guaranteed rejection before the end of the first paragraph. On the other hand I could give her some information that might get her moving on a path that actually can lead to publication.

    I happen to favor knowledge. It's a good working substitute for genius.
     
  15. Hazel B-S
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    Hazel B-S Member

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    Ok, thanks guys, I'll try and write to such a standard so my age wont matter :)
     
  16. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    One other suggestion - your English classes may not be teaching you how to write fiction, but they are introducing you (I hope) to lots of folks who know (or knew) how. When doing your assigned reading, don't just focus on what your teacher thinks is important. Look at how the story is being told. Does it appeal to you? Does it put you off? If a particular writer strikes your fancy, read more of him/her on your own. After reading a book you like the first time, go back and see what it was that you liked so much about it. This will help you develop your writing "chops".
     
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  17. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    This probably won't come off as positive, but do you really want to see the work you're producing now immortalised in print?

    Spend some time working on your craft before worrying about the publishing world. Years pass quickly. My first piece of work was published when I was 14 - and I hate it. I repeated that same mistake another two times over at age 16 and 19 respectively. If I could undo sending those three pieces out into the world then I would: once something is in print you can't exactly take it back. At the time I was proud but now I hate that I pushed my work out to the public so early.
     
  18. Krishan
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    Krishan Active Member

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    These are all important things to consider, but please don't let anyone discourage you from trying. I published my first story at quite a young age, and was told by several people that I would regret it later on, that I was too young to be any good, that I didn't have enough "life experience", etc, etc. I don't regret it at all. It encouraged me greatly in my writing, and helped me understand the industry I hoped to enter.

    I genuinely don't think age is any indicator of quality. I wish you all the best in your efforts.
     
  19. yagr
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    yagr Contributing Member

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    I believe that you've gotten exceptional advice in this thread; that includes the advice you didn't ask for. Allow me to give you one more piece of unsolicited advice. It may be some kind of phenomenal long shot of you ever getting published, but if you are a writer - write anyway. Twenty years ago, after being pronounced dead and returning six minutes later, my doctors told me I had suffered too much brain damage to ever read or write again. My first book is now in its fourth printing and I've just submitted my second.

    Two key tricks: First was to follow my dream. The second was to never give up. This is no pleasant platitude: if you believe in you, so will I.
     
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