STATUS: TGIF! Getting ready for Book Expo the week after next.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? QUESTION by Rhett Miller
Lately, we’ve been getting a lot of queries from young people—and we know this because these writers are highlighting their young age in the query letters they are sending us.
I have a couple of thoughts on this.
1. No matter how you spin it, highlighting an age in your query just doesn’t come across as professional. Here at the agency, we don’t care how hold you are; we only care about how talented a writer you might be. If you have a good query with an interesting novel, we’ll ask for pages whether you are 15 or 85.
In fact, just last year we offered representation to a 15-year old writer. Now I didn’t know that when I called to offer representation. It hadn’t been mentioned in any of her submitted materials. In fact, we had a great phone convo and she actually didn’t bring up the topic of her age until the very end of the phone conference. She brought it up because she needed to know how it would work since she was under the legal age of 18. The answer to that question, by the way, is nothing really changes except that her parent or guardian must co-sign the agency agreement and if the book sells, the publishing contract.
Ends up she had several agent offers of representation and went with another agency so we didn’t end up signing her. (Side note: Her YA novel did sell though as I saw the announcement on Deal Lunch.)
But my point here is that her age didn’t matter; I would have still signed her on as a client.
So this makes me speculate that young writers like to specify their tender years for a couple of possible reasons:
1. Maybe it will impress us that they’ve finished a novel so young?
I find it impressive that anyone finishes a novel quite frankly! And I’m only going to be impressed if I offer for rep and then discover that you have that much talent and you are only 15 because when I read the sample pages, I couldn’t tell.
2. Maybe we’ll go easier on them while reading the pages?
Nope. We don’t grant leniency because of age and cut you slack while reading your sample pages. You’re either ready or you’re not and that’s going to show on the page via a clear demonstration of writing mastery and talent.
And ultimately, I think your writing talent should speak for itself—regardless of your age. So my advice? Don’t mention it.