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Miz Lina's avatar

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Just found this tidbit on Query Shark:

Quote:
I always hate to see a query writer put their age in a query. I particularly hate it when the query writer is young. Nothing good comes of this. Agents aren't looking for "young"; they're looking for good projects.

Your project needs to stand on its own. And, it's possible if not likely that a good project will be summarily rejected because of your age. There are many published novelists who are young of course. The one I am most familiar with (Kody Keplinger) did not include her age in her query.

I'm almost 100% certain to reject a project if the querier is this young (you're 16 or 17 I assume.) I don't want to inflict my sharkly self on kids. I know you don't think of yourself as a kid, but I do. There's time enough for you to be brutalized by the real world. College for starters.
So, don't give me the chance to not fall in love with your work by leading with your age.

This applies only to kids who are nearly adults-16 and 17.

If you're under 16, do tell me. I don't form reject anyone under 16. I reject them, but always with encouragement.


NOW, I know this has been a hot topic every single time it's come up (frequently). The short answer is: It is possible for a 14, 16, 18 year old to get published. It has happened, as fans of the Eragon series like to repeat over and over (and over). It's all about your writing. It's all about your raw talent that, if you possess it in great quantities, should speak for itself. Right?

Yes and no.

Like the Shark says above, it's about the project first. Does the agent love it, have a passion for it, does s/he think s/he can sell it?

But if you're going to try to impress the agent with -gasp!- how young you are to have discovered your gift, surely you must be some prodigy and publishers will just fall over to get you so early in your career, that's really not the best strategy. Publishers want a great project, but they also want to be able to work with the author to make changes. They also want professionalism. And not to lump teenagers altogether in the same category, but they don't teach professionalism in high school (understatement of the year), and it's probably not something you're picking up whilst dealing with your parents and friends. This is why the whole raw talent vs. life experience debate is so silly. Publishing is a business. Business people, as a general rule, are going to want the people they deal with to have life experience.


I'm not saying you guys should give up your dreams of being published young and etc., I'm saying the exact opposite. Use your younger years to fully harness that creativity, that passion you have for writing, because the "real world" (s**t jobs, s**t bosses, s**t relationships, bills, adulthood) is going to do everything it can to take that from you. You need to get a good grip on that s**t. Don't skip steps. Work on your writing now; you don't have to publish it just because you finished it. Start another project. Try new things with your writing. Find your voice, your angle, what themes it is that you find yourself revisiting over and over. Master it now, worry about the publishing later. This is the best advice I can give you.

Note: Query Shark is a query critique blog run by Janet Reid, a ferocious and fantastic NYC literary agent. The woman knows what she's talking about, and if you're not following Query Shark, you should be. Read through it now for the writing advice, later for the querying advice.
Mortok's avatar

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I don't understand. What debate is supposed to be happening?

As it is, I don't see how this "ends" anything. It's all very well to say that "raw talent should stand on its own", except that's not actually true. Raw talent and creativity need to be tempered by skill and experience, and let's not forget two major factors that often result in the widespread publicaton of utter trash: marketability and connections.
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Why do people give their age to a query agent, anyway?

Do they hope pity will get their story published when an agent (or their secretary) reads hundreds of stories a day? Or is it to excuse the lack of editing?
Miz Lina's avatar

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Mortok
I don't understand. What debate is supposed to be happening?


I'm preparing for the onslaught. It's been almost three or four months (?) since I've seen the last "Who says teenagers can't get published" thread, and they usually come with more frequency than that. By my internal clock we should have been due for one in March.
Mortok

As it is, I don't see how this "ends" anything. It's all very well to say that "raw talent should stand on its own", except that's not actually true. Raw talent and creativity need to be tempered by skill and experience, and let's not forget two major factors that often result in the widespread publicaton of utter trash: marketability and connections.



Have you tried explaining that to an enraged 16-year-old high on his own ego? Not to mention one with little, if any, knowledge of the publishing industry- half of them firmly believe that you type "The End" at the bottom of the manuscript, shove it in a manilla envelope, address it to Random House, and patiently wait for their cheque to arrive via post.
Mortok's avatar

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Miz Lina
I'm preparing for the onslaught. It's been almost three or four months (?) since I've seen the last "Who says teenagers can't get published" thread, and they usually come with more frequency than that. By my internal clock we should have been due for one in March

Okay then.

Quote:
Have you tried explaining that to an enraged 16-year-old high on his own ego? Not to mention one with little, if any, knowledge of the publishing industry- half of them firmly believe that you type "The End" at the bottom of the manuscript, shove it in a manilla envelope, address it to Random House, and patiently wait for their cheque to arrive via post.

Well, no, I don't meet that many 16-year-olds who want to write, so I guess I have to take your word for it.

But another thing: I think people in this thread are rather jumping to conclusions about the ulterior motives of young writers. You're assuming that telling an agent/publisher their age is an attempt to either impress or solicit pity.

The simplest explanation, and by far the most likely, is that they did it without thinking at all.

You could be expected to give your age for legal documents, doctor's offices, schools, government forms, banks, sports clubs, magazine subscriptions, membership applications and lottery draw competitions, and that's not even an exhaustive list. It's an extremely basic piece of information that we give out freely as a mere formality. Why would a young writer assume that a publishing house is any different?
Miz Lina
Mortok
I don't understand. What debate is supposed to be happening?


I'm preparing for the onslaught. It's been almost three or four months (?) since I've seen the last "Who says teenagers can't get published" thread, and they usually come with more frequency than that. By my internal clock we should have been due for one in March.
Mortok

As it is, I don't see how this "ends" anything. It's all very well to say that "raw talent should stand on its own", except that's not actually true. Raw talent and creativity need to be tempered by skill and experience, and let's not forget two major factors that often result in the widespread publicaton of utter trash: marketability and connections.



Have you tried explaining that to an enraged 16-year-old high on his own ego? Not to mention one with little, if any, knowledge of the publishing industry- half of them firmly believe that you type "The End" at the bottom of the manuscript, shove it in a manilla envelope, address it to Random House, and patiently wait for their cheque to arrive via post.


While I have to say I admire your preparedness, the sad truth is that the majority of new posters in here don't even read the rules before making a topic, never mind other threads. I'm afraid it's only a matter of time before a "Who says teens can't get published" topic comes around again. Just like the "Help me name my mc something cool", "give me a story idea", and "critique my story even tho I'm in the wrong forum" threads that show up despite all the warning signs against them.

Though I truly don't understand why most people don't at least research what goes into writing and publishing before just doing it and expecting a best seller on their first try.
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Miz Lina

Have you tried explaining that to an enraged 16-year-old high on his own ego? .


No one's going to admit they have this and likely report you as 'flaming' if they do have that ego.
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Kairi Nightingale


While I have to say I admire your preparedness, the sad truth is that the majority of new posters in here don't even read the rules before making a topic, never mind other threads. I'm afraid it's only a matter of time before a "Who says teens can't get published" topic comes around again. Just like the "Help me name my mc something cool", "give me a story idea", and "critique my story even tho I'm in the wrong forum" threads that show up despite all the warning signs against them.


Ahah, but! Now I can click Forum > My Topics > "So we can stop having this debate now" and copy/paste a link. Whereas if I hadn't made this topic, I would have been floundering through QS looking for this little clip. Overthinking? Maybe. But it's a bit of insight from a successful industry insider that will be worth sharing when the topic comes up.

I_Write_Ivre
Do you mean no one's going to admit they've argued the point with a 16-year-old, or no one's going to admit they have an ego?

Mortok

This is very true, but even in that situation they deserve to know that it's not doing them any favours to let the agent know if they're still in high school. Wouldn't you want to give yourself the best chance possible?
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Miz Lina
Do you mean no one's going to admit they've argued the point with a 16-year-old, or no one's going to admit they have an ego?


The latter.

Their either going to get mad that you implied they were one of 'those' people or just outright deny it.
Mortok's avatar

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Miz Lina
This is very true, but even in that situation they deserve to know that it's not doing them any favours to let the agent know if they're still in high school. Wouldn't you want to give yourself the best chance possible?

Naturally, I but I don't think that this blog (or many of the writers in this forum, for that matter) are the type to communicate it in the right way.

I said I had never met a 16-year-old who wanted to write, and that's true, but I've known/do know a few in general, and some people below that age even, and I have this to say: the ones I have encountered are not stupid. I would go so far as to say that most of them were/are smarter at sixteen than I am now, at twenty-two, but my sampling is somewhat skewed. They do high-level maths and science that I could never hope to comprehend, and though they may not have any experience getting published, I know they're more than capable of understanding the comparatively simple concept of the age bias that exists in the business.

I also trust them to be able to recognize when someone is being genuinely helpful and constructive. If any of 'my' 16-year-olds reacted poorly to critique, I'd be willing to bet money that it was because the 'critic' in question was in fact being a smug, condescending a*****e, and was probably wrong to boot.
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Mortok

I also trust them to be able to recognize when someone is being genuinely helpful and constructive.


The sad truth is, in this forum that is very often not the case. I'm not saying the teenagers in question are not intelligent; but I have seen waay too many cases here were helpful critique was met with outright hostility of the "Who asked for your opinion you're just jealous you don't know what you're talking about WAH" variety. It's not easy to take criticism subjectively, and impulse control is a virtue that is gained slowly, along the teen years and early adulthood, not something most people are just born with and happen to have magically at 16.

Also, this is the Internet. People who would nod and ask questions and try to take something out of the criticism IRL, here, have a much easier time just letting the caps lock do their reacting for them. It doesn't make them stupid, it just makes them human and young.
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Miz Lina
"Who asked for your opinion you're just jealous you don't know what you're talking about WAH"

It's not just teens. Adults do it too, often saying 'you're lying about your age/experience/where you live/what you did/ you don't' know waht [x] is'/Don't tell me what I can and cannot do' as well.

Not that teens don't add that to tantrums now and then.
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I_Write_Ivre
Miz Lina
"Who asked for your opinion you're just jealous you don't know what you're talking about WAH"

It's not just teens. Adults do it too, often saying 'you're lying about your age/experience/where you live/what you did/ you don't' know waht [x] is'/Don't tell me what I can and cannot do' as well.

Not that teens don't add that to tantrums now and then.


This is true. I had to explain to one dude that just because I'm on Gaia a few times a week does not mean that it is statistically impossible for me to also have education and experience from within the medical field.

Which, thinking about it, is just silly anyway- if you don't believe someone when they say that an element from your story is medically implausible, why not just Google it?
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Miz Lina

Which, thinking about it, is just silly anyway- if you don't believe someone when they say that an element from your story is medically implausible, why not just Google it?

The common tantrum rebuttal is that 'this is FICTION! I can do what I want!'
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I_Write_Ivre
Miz Lina

Which, thinking about it, is just silly anyway- if you don't believe someone when they say that an element from your story is medically implausible, why not just Google it?

The common tantrum rebuttal is that 'this is FICTION! I can do what I want!'


But of course you can rip a man's head clear off his shoulders with one swipe of your powerful arm, even though you're only 13 and he's a trained-his-entire-life warlord! How silly of me! I forgot it was your story!

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