QueryTracker Blog

Helping Authors Find Literary Agents

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Querying Age: Are You Too Young or Too Old?

                                        ©Stina Lindenblatt

I was recently asked if there is an age beyond which a literary agent will shy away from when it comes to signing a new client?
First, I want to make it clear. Never, ever, mention your age in a query. You only include the essentials. Your age is not essential.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a teen writing YA. Yes, your voice might be authentic compared to a ninety-nine-year-old writing a YA novel, but the agent doesn’t care. Nor is it important that you’re approaching the upper end of your life span.
The agent only cares about three things: your story appeals to her, she loves your voice, and your writing skills are honed.
That’s all. And these three things will be reflected in your query. Right?
The only circumstance in which you would tell the agent your age is when you’re a minor (under the age of eighteen). Then a parent or legal guardian will have to co-sign your agency agreement. But you only mention it to an agent when you get The Call. Not before.
And really, what does it matter how old you are? Sure, if you’re eighty, your writing career might not be as long as someone in his twenties. But the same twenty-year-old might die in a car accident and that’s the end of his writing career. You can’t predict these things, and neither can an agent.
So don’t worry about your age. Just focus on producing the best possible query and manuscript.

Stina Lindenblatt writes romantic suspense and young adults novels. In her spare time, she’s a photographer and blogging addict, and can be found hanging out on her blog, Seeing Creative 


jams3062 said...

I recently had a long phone conversation with an agent who said she really really liked my novel... but wanted me to make revisions before thinking of signing me. She said she was calling to find out more about me, and at the very end, asked how old I was. This bothered me because I don't think it should matter (I'm 51, writing for MG). But obviously it did matter, or she wouldn't have asked. I do think there's an age bias in the industry, whether anyone admits it or not.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Stina-ultimately, I agree. Although, there will be experiences like Julie's. But, maybe the agent asked because she was curious, voice was so strong in the MG, she was wondering if you we young, late teens, early twenties young?

Stina said...

Julie-that is odd about the agent. As for age. There isn't an industry where it isn't an issue, whether we like to believe it or not. But that doesn't mean you should quit writing and trying to get published when you hit a certain age.

Tracy said...

Such an uplifting post. ;o)

Age shouldn't matter to an agent, because a saleable book is a saleable book. That being said, I can see where it could be a curiosity.

I won't lie & say I wouldn't prefer to sign on with a younger agent. One that I have the potential to build a lengthy career relationship with rather than someone who may decide to retire in a few years. So can we really blame some agents if they have concerns about the vice versa?

Just food for thought.

G. B. Miller said...

Good post.

I'm probably a good example like the first commenter.

I got started very late as a writer, so I'm at the age (46) where people might think twice about dealing with me.

But as an old Popeeye cartoon once stated, "You're as old as you feel young."

No matter what your age is, if you can do it, do it.

Shannon said...

As an agent, I would've thought that a publishable book by an author over the retireee age might actually be a boon! Presumably they could write more and would be less prone to distractions like jobs and children.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Great post, Stina,

I agree age isn't important .... the story and skill are.