Pub Rants

Young Turks

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STATUS: I’m super excited about a new submission that’s going out this week.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? DECEMBER 1963 (OH WHAT A NIGHT) by Frankie Vallie and the Four Seasons

I wanted to do a shout-out to a new, non-anonymous blogger in the agenting world. I probably should amend that. She’s probably not new but I’ve newly discovered her and that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

The new blog is Lit Soup by Jenny Rappaport at the L. Perkins agency.

And from what I can tell, she’s taking a lot of drubbing for being honest on her blog. I can see the lure of being anonymous…

One of her comments struck me though. I haven’t read the whole string of commentary (simply out of time today) but she does take a moment to highlight that being young in this industry is not necessarily a liability.

Ah, the age factor must have come up and that made me want to share a little fact with my blog readers. I’m not sure if writers realize just how young the workers in this industry are. I certainly don’t have hard statistics at my fingertips (so take this with some grains of salt) but I wouldn’t be amiss by suggesting that over 60% of the editors who work in publishing (and are actively acquiring and buying books) are under the age of 35.

It’s an industry of young’uns. Brash, intelligent, and savvy Young Turks.

In fact, Jason Kaufman, the editor of that little known book called THE DA VINCI CODE, wasn’t even 30 when he acquired that novel.

And this isn’t unusual.

And as much as it pains me to not be included in those young ranks (ahem, cough, sigh), it did make me want to bring up that fact. There’s a saying that with age comes wisdom. True. Sometimes. But there are lots of folks who have age but somehow missed out on that second part.

So, in the world of publishing, it’s better to not practice ageism.

(I know; I’ll get a whole slew of comments on maturity vs. age etc. Big smile here.)

41 Responses

  1. Anonymous said:

    To be perfectly honest, there’s an agent or two that I purposely didn’t query because I was underwhelmed by the maturity level displayed online. I can respect success and drive at any age, but immaturity is where I draw the line.

    Maybe that’s because I’m in the same “age club” as you, and have hopefully acquired some of that “wisdom of the aged.”

    As for you, Ms. Kristin…you are ageless! 🙂

  2. katiesandwich said:

    You’re sooooo awesome! Young writers… well, me… get so sick and tired of some of these uppity people who have crossed the age 35 bar telling us we’re stupid in words that are more diplomatic but basically mean the same thing. Age is relative. I have friends who are the same age as my parents, and I have friends still in high school. The number of years a person has been on the earth doesn’t affect their worth; we’re all people and deserve to be treated like it.

    Sorry. I’ll get off my soapbox now!

  3. GutterBall said:

    …what happened to the previous young editors? Do they dump them down a chute at age 35?

    Only if they follow the example of Unterland. Military service is compulsory for all males until age 35. At 35, they are killed.

    Heh, before anyone takes my head off, that’s a paraphrase from The Venture Brothers. I swear!

  4. Virginia Miss said:

    What Natalie said: what happened to the previous young editors?

    I’ve so often wondered that! Please tell us, Ms. Kristin!

    Most agents and editors I’ve met at conferences look as old as my teenage daughter.

  5. joelle said:

    I just met with an editorial assistant who has been giving me lots of good revision advice on my YA over the last year via email. She was wearing jeans, a bulky sweater and was about 25, or maybe younger. I’m on the upward side of 35 and was in a suit. I found it hilarious because I’m a jeans and bulky sweater kind of girl myself! We had lots of fun and I really liked her. She might be young, but she’s really whipped my novel in to shape and taught me a bunch of stuff in the meantime. Now…if I could only get that contract…maybe after the revision she has now…

  6. Kimber An said:

    gutterball, if the males are otherwise occupied until age 35 and then are killed where does the next generation come from? Wouldn’t this species become extinct? This just reminded of how in Ancient Israel service was mandantory except for the first year following marriage.

  7. Kanani said:

    The people I really enjoy are those who seem ageless. I know a 75 year old man who is younger in attitude, spirit and generosity than many more than half his age, and speeds by his peers. When his peers started getting less fun (and started to die off), he went out to poetry readings and now has lots of younger friends as well.

    And then there are younger people who were born wise and are naturally comfortable around older people. Age isn’t an issue with them.

    Creativity and wisdom can come at ANY age. Let’s not forget Harriet Doerr, who was in her 70’s when she wrote “Stones for Ibarra.” I imagine ANY young agent would have loved to represent her.

    I’d guess that the agents or editors who believe in stereotypes of the ages run the risk of missing out on talent, or not getting it at all After all, everyone’s getting older. Even them. There’ll always be someone younger, so best not to use age as a standard.

  8. Kanani said:

    Having just looked at the blog, I wonder why she thinks it necessary to mention her age?

    It really isn’t needed.
    I’ve never seen:
    My name is Willa Cather. I am 45 years old and have just written My Antonia.

  9. Anonymous said:

    Yes, Kristin, I hope you’ll attempt to answer Natalie’s question: what happens to the over-35s? Do they become agents?

    And don’t stop there. What do you think are the ramifications of mostly-under-35ers choosing what gets published? Isn’t it a bit like B&N choosing what gets prime shelf space, publicized, and maybe ultimately what gets published? A few people (or a small demographic) gets to decide what Everyone reads.

    And what do under-35 eds make of this?

  10. Anonymous said:

    My editor has been with my publisher for a long time. Sixteen years, I think. But I know of several editors who are still in their mid-to-late twenties.

    I’m sill in my twenties too, and my agent is a year younger than I am. And I think we’re all perfectly competent. Well, actually, I think we’re awesome, but that sounds a little braggy, so I’ll stick with competent. 😉

  11. Katharine said:

    I’m an oldster who’s been in publishing almost 23 years, though I spent my in-house time (the first 11 years) as a production editor, not as an acquisitions editor. (I’ve spent the last almost 12 years as a freelance copyeditor.)

    The in-house editors often leave in their early thirties—or at least by 35—because the hours are too long to be worth the low pay. They want lives, so lots of them go freelance. Or they become agents. Or they take time off and start families, some never to return.

  12. Gina Black said:

    *love Frankie Vallie and the Four Seasons*

    But anyway…

    I just wanted to say that I’ve known some very wise young people. Wisdom isn’t restricted to any particular age. It’s how one works with the knowledge one has…

  13. Anonymous said:

    Actually, the idea of killing people at age 35 is from the novel Logan’s Run by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson, and probably was an old idea by the time they wrote about it.

    Logan’s Run

    A tip of the hat from the writers of Venture Brothers to that ol’ SF novel, I would think.

    Anyway, I would think most editors are actually promoted, not killed. But, in this day and age, who knows…

  14. Anonymous said:

    I saw her blog awhile ago. It franky turned me off. She sounds like a whiner and complains a lot. I am not surprised about that guy posting about her. I wouldn’t go that far. I just scratched her off my list of agents to query. I’m young too, but I don’t whine about my job like her. Why is she an agents if all she does is complain about it.

  15. pennyoz said:

    LOL. Killing old people off at 35 only works until they get to 35. Then its killing old people off at 45. But that only works until…

    I guess when you get to 85 there are less to kill.

    Trouble is that by the time you’ve reached 85 you realise the truth.
    There’s no such thing as old or young. You’re as young as you feel.

  16. onefootinthegrave said:

    I’m 55 and my newly signed agent is VERY young, a baby! I love it that way! I don’t have any problems with her age. She sent me a couple of pages of notes on my manuscript and her advice was brilliant. I’ve taken it on, revised the ms accordingly, asked her opinion on a few points, and now we have a killer of a thing. I love my age and the experience that goes with it, and I think it helps me write better and more layered novels. She brings other skills to the table, skills for which her youth is a distinct advantage. I think we’re a great team.
    Age is only a problem when arrogance and prejudice comes into it; and that can work both ways. I’d never look down on an agent for her youth, but I also don’t want to be dismissed as an olde fogey in a grey twin-set.

  17. Patrick McNamara said:

    I think the industry is probably like every other industry; those who make up the bulk of the companies are younger while those who run things are older. And when it comes to finding new agents, they will likely be younger as the older agents tend to have an established list of clients.

  18. The Unpretentious Writer said:

    IMHO, as long as the agent isn’t a scammer and has sold stuff, I’m not one to be picky. Breaking into the publishing business has been tough enough as it is without knocking agents off my list for their age.

    If someone reps my genre and isn’t charging a fee, it’s good enough for me.

  19. Ryan Field said:

    I don’t think the controversy about Ms. Rappaport’s blog had anything to do with her age. Though age was mentioned, it wasn’t the issue…far from it.

    However, the issue that caused this minor controversy should really be dropped at this point.

  20. GutterBall said:

    gutterball, if the males are otherwise occupied until age 35 and then are killed where does the next generation come from?

    Immaculate conception. It’s the only explanation for the thriving of Unterland under the iron fist of Baron Unterbite.

  21. An Aspiring Writer said:

    Re “Gutterball” and immaculate conception … what? They don’t ever get leave? 🙂

    I’ve added Ms Rappaport to my daily blog reads. Thanks for the tip, Kristin. Personally I like the idea of having a younger agent/editor as I’m not exactly a spring chicken anymore. I would think they bring with them fresh ideas and perspectives that might not have occurred to me … having been a teenager in a pre-AIDS, pre-home computer, pre-cell phone era.

  22. Kanani said:

    I went through the guy’s blog who complained about her.
    And I read her responses.
    The problem wasn’t her age, the problem is her lack of business etiquette.

    I’ve known people in her age who work have impeccable business manners. In her case, she tends to emote a lot, rather than getting right to the point.

    In most businesses, she’d of been either fired or taken under a very senior level manager’s wing (of any age) and taken through the hoops. If I were her employer, I’d ask her to take the firms name off her blog, since it IS whiny and doesn’t bode well for their own reputation.

    So young turks or not… diplomacy, etiquette are very important in business if you’re in it for the long haul.

  23. lizzie26 said:

    Walk into any elementary school. Look at the primary grade teachers. You’ll see most are under the age of 35. Low pay and after awhile, it takes a physical toll on the body. As someone else pointed out, editors aren’t paid that much, the hours are long, therefore it, too, takes a toll on a person.

  24. Kimber An said:

    I disagree that Jenny has poor business manners. She’s simply personable. I’ve read the blogs of many agents and I”m thinking of one in particular who is very inconsiderate of query-writers and she’s got to be way over 40. Or, maybe she just seems that way. No, I’m not talking about Miss Snark. Despite her rapier wit, it’s obvious to me she cares for her snarklings. That may be what it boils down to – whether the agent actually cares about other human beings or whether she, or he, believes she only needs to waste time on people who make her money NOW.

  25. Jillian said:

    Jenny is very personable and wears her heart on her sleeve, which can be a blessing as well as a curse.

    I enjoy her blog and her genuine friendliness, not to mention her honesty. I’ve had her bookmarked for several weeks now, but I appreciate the reminder that she’s out there (I tend to forget what I bookmark).

  26. Anonymous said:

    Don’t use the Da Vinci Code as a plus, dear. It makes you look like one of those folks who claims, “It sold a ton, this guy must be a genius!” Dan Brown is a fairly bad writer, successful or not.

  27. Maprilynne said:

    *I’m sorry, I can’t leave it alone*

    Any author who can catch the interest and imagination of millions of reader is NOT a bad writer.
    I would love to be as bad a writer as DB.


  28. Termagant 2 said:

    On the agent-quest, I don’t give a rip what the prospective agent’s age is. If he’s enthusiastic about my work, and wants to sell it, he could be 21 or 80, I don’t care.


  29. Anonymous said:

    I’m not quite sure what you mean by this post– if we’re querying you, would you like us to mention our age if we’re young? Sorry if I completely missed the point.
    – Caroline

  30. GutterBall said:

    Re GutterBall and immaculate conception … what? They don’t ever get leave?

    Absolutely not. That is an unacceptible and inefficient waste of Unterland resources. Not only would a given soldier be absent for an entire weekend, but Unterland would foot the bill for his transportation.

    Unforgivable. Immaculate conception is the only way, saith Baron Unterbite.

    Word ver: gljuwgix – the sound an Unterlandian makes on his 35th birthday.

  31. Kimber An said:

    Sheesh, it’s a wonder they don’t just kill themselves at 35! Obviously, this was not a novel acquired by a female agent who would have pointed such things as procreation out to the author. (rolling eyes) Reminds me of Star Wars in which Luke’s mother isn’t mentioned until the last of the original trilogy, to say nothing of what Vader fried in the lava pit.

  32. Anonymous said:

    I liked the Da Vinci Code. So did my husband. So did my teenage son… who usually would prefer to read blogs and MSN than a book.
    Sometimes we should think about the reader, rather than getting all caught up in snobbish writing.