1. Scarecrow28
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    Scarecrow28 Contributing Member

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    Young writers and publishing

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Scarecrow28, Aug 17, 2008.

    I'm a younger writer in the process of writing my first novel (although I've been writing for 5-6 years). I know that before I start looking into publication I need to first finish the novel, but was curious about how my age could impact my writing. Would my age prevent publishers from taking my novel seriously. Should I, assuming I send it to a publisher, omit my age in order to prevent it from affecting the decision to publish it or not? Will my age be a hinderance in getting published? Thanks!
     
  2. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Scarecrow28,

    Age should not be a concern (unless you're under 18 in the USA, I cannot speak for other countries). Then, you'll have to go through an attorney to set it up so that your parents can sign for you until you're of age. I'm not sure of the process, but it can be done...so set that aside.

    As far as your age, an agent or a publisher's only contact with you is going to be through paper (or files). They'll get queries, cover letters, proposals, the manuscript. Nowhere is it necessary to include your age. If professionally written, they will have no clue if you're sixteen, twenty-six, or forty-six. And they won't care. It's the manuscript that will sell itself.

    Now, can your youth be a benifit? It can be used as a postive marketing tool, depending on the novel and how and your publisher view the situation.

    You say you've been working on your novel for 5-6 years, and have to finish it yet. Say it takes you another six months to complete it (including final revisions/edits/polish).

    Then you have to query agents and begin the submission process to them. Even you strike right off, that will take a minimum of 3-5 months. Probably longer.

    If you submit directly to publishers, it will take months if not longer to find a legitimate publisher.

    Realistically, two years or more...and while your first novel is out on submission, you'll be writing another one, right? ;)

    So, with the timeline, the minimum age issue for a contract may end up not being a concern.

    As far as being taken seriously, again, it is whether they take your communications (query/cover letters, synopsis, manuscript) seriously. If your writing/communication is professional and well written, they (agents/publishers) will take your work seriously. If a publisher thinks your writing something that will sell (be of interest to readers), age won't matter to them one bit.

    Plus, if you're a success, how many more years/novels might they get out of you (profitable to both you and them) if you're 18 at the start of your writing career, as opposed to 58?

    Terry
     
  3. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree completely with Terry. Omit your age until you're talking about contracts. If you are a minor at that time, you will need a court appointed guardian to actually sign a contract for you. Parents are NOT automatically able to sign a business contract on behalf of their kids. They need approval from the courts.

    Some businesses still prefer not to do business with a minor because even a court appointed guardian can not guarantee performance by the minor. Yes, the guardian can manage money, agree to terms and transact compensation but there is no way to "force" a minor to do anything. Consequently, many contracts involving minors only provide compensation AFTER performance is complete...and that's reasonable.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    first of all, no one who knows what's what ever puts their age in a query letter, unless they're so old it might be a good selling point... to get their queries taken seriously and read, young writers should never mention their age, but just write letters that make them come across as adults...

    i don't think that's entirely true in the us, dean... where did you get that idea/info?

    this would only apply to an advance being paid by the publisher... and a new, young writer isn't very likely to be offered one...

    agents would most likely have no problem with a parent signing their contract on behalf of a legal minor child, if they think the book is so marketable and so exceptional that they feel fairly sure they can make a lot of money on it... otherwise, i don't think many agents would be at all interested in a first novel by a minor and even if they like it, would probably say to come back when they're of age and have more than one book to offer...
     
  5. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Disregarding all the legal issues involved with contracts and minors, there are lots of people who have professionally published books that they wrote in high school or even earlier. So we know that a lot of publishers will take them if they think it's good enough. On the other hand, that doesn't mean they will take you seriously. I can't say for sure how they'll treat you, but I do know that there is a good chance that they will use your age as a marketing ploy, or take it more because of your age than the actual merit of the writing.

    People involved in communities like this one, that allow teenagers, know that lots of kids are perfectly capable of writing novels, and we know that it doesn't take more skill, just a different kind of skill to write novels instead of short stories, and perhaps more disciplin. But that level of disciplin is the same that you need to be a successful student and a good althete. It doesn't get the same kind of praise because it's seen all the time. The general public doesn't know that.

    Some books I know would never have been published had they been submitted by an adult, yet they get wonderful praise and "Wow, she wrote this when she was thirteen!" comments, when the only thing that is impressive is the length. To give you an example of a Canadian author who published a book he wrote when he was fifteen, the "About the Author" blurb mentioned this until he won the governor general's award more than fifteen years later, and it was often one of the first things mentioned in artilces, too.

    It may seem cool now, but I met the author once, and he hated it. So if you go for it before you turn twenty, be sure that you can handle the idea that people might make your age more important than the work itself, and that it might follow you for a long time.
     
  6. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Parental authority for consent is limited in scope. Binding contracts in business require a higher level of authority. For example, if a father leaves some life insurance proceeds to his minor child, the child's mother does NOT automatically have authority to manage those funds on behalf of the child. She is required to obtain court approval for her actions, including ongoing court supervision of such things as "suitability of investments" and posting a "liability performance bond" until the child reaches the age of majority. That is why it's so important for people to set up trusts to handle such affairs...the trust minimizes court involvement.

    With regard to a publishing contract, a parent may need to prove to the court that he/she has the requisite knowledge/experience to make such a decision on behalf of the minor. A wise parent will eschew this responsibility and seek a literary authority to act as the child's court appointed guardian for analyzing the rights to be granted, negotiating changes and completing such a contract.

    We already covered this briefly in another post:

    http://www.writingforums.org/showthread.php?p=257980#post257980

    Here's an interesting Q&A from the Business Week article:

    Q: What about a company interested in purchasing a product or service from a teenage entrepreneur? How can it protect itself in its dealings with the minor?

    A: The only way is to make sure that a guardian has been appointed by the court and make sure that the guardian gets authority from the court to enter into any kind of contractual relationship to exploit this program or service. A guardian can do anything with the minor's property as long as there is court approval. The guardian's actions are as binding as they would be with another adult.

    Now if you take a look at this issue from the Publishing Company's perspective, they know the law and they expect their contract to be binding. Consequently, they are highly likely to require that a parent (or the parent's designated specialist) obtain the appropriate court appointment prior to serious negotiations . . . hence the importance of age to the publisher.

    Footnote: I've been dealing with gifts and insurance proceeds paid to minors for over 30 years in my practice. I frequently refer clients to attorney's to handle such matters. It is not uncommon for a parent to appoint a trusted attorney or accountant to represent the child in such matters.
     
  7. Scarecrow28
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    Scarecrow28 Contributing Member

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  8. ParanormalWriter
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    ParanormalWriter Contributing Member

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    Hi Scarecrow. I'll just agree with what others have already said above. Unless you're under eighteen, there's really no reason for age to come into play. Don't even bring it up in query or cover letters.
     
  9. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Don't even bring it up if you are under eighteen. Occassionally they will want to know your level of education, but that's the closest they should get. The work should stand on its own and your age should not be a factor in their decision, since there are ways of dealing with contract issues.
     
  10. Scarecrow28
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    Scarecrow28 Contributing Member

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    Thanks for the input.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    much as i respect your good intentions and knowledge of inheritance and insurance matters, salty, i would still strongly urge any minor/parent finding themselves in such a situation, or wanting to know what the actual laws are, to consult a literary attorney of their own and not go by anything they find on the internet or in writing forums...

    the laws governing such things may also not be federal ones or universal and perhaps determined by the state/country in which the person lives, so that needs to be considered as well...

    hugs, m
     
  12. offscott
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    offscott New Member

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    No one cares about the age! It matters if it is good or bad for that type of genre. To me Nothing matters except from quality!
     

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