Why Age isn’t Relevant to Publishing

Yesterday, I did a blog post about how age is relevant to writing. That post got me thinking about another misconception many teens have: They believe age is relevant to publishing. This misconception seems to come in many forms, but the most common versions I’ve seen are:

  • So what if my novel has 1,200 grammar mistakes? And so what if I can’t spell? Everyone should still buy my book, because I wrote it when I was only thirteen!
  • It doesn’t matter that my book costs an outrageous amount! I’m still going to become a bestseller, because I’m only fourteen.
  • It’s totally okay if I write snarky replies to every negative review I receive! After all, I’m only fifteen, so readers shouldn’t say anything negative about my book in the first place.
  • Obviously, I need to spam everyone on the internet about my book! And I need to include my age every single time I mention my novel, because the most important part of it is that I’m only sixteen.
  • It’s okay if my writing isn’t nearly as good as most authors! Considering I’m only seventeen, it’s really good, so everyone will still buy my book.

And my response:

No, NO, NOOO, NOOOOO, NOOOOOOOOOOO!

 (Before I go any further, I should clarify something: In most cases, I don’t mind if teens self-publish unprofessional books. Most of these teens don’t market their books, and only publish them to share with friends and family. Personally, I think this is 100% okay.)

What’s not okay is when teens seriously market an unprofessional book. When this happens, teens expect strangers to pay money for a low-quality product, and the results are often disastrous. Not only does it make the individual author look pretty terrible, but it gives a bad name to other teen authors. And when all this bad stuff strikes, the teen author almost always uses the same excuse:

But I’m just a teenager! What else did you expect from me?

Quite simply, I only expect one thing from authors, whether they’re teens or adults or toddlers: I expect professionalism. Simply put, all the misconceptions I listed above usually result in an unprofessional product and author. And this leads back to my original point: If you’re going to act like a professional writer, you have to realize age is irrelevant to the process of publishing. The only way age ever impacts publishing is if you use is as a feeble marketing gimmick or an excuse–both of which show a lack of professionalism.

So what makes a professional writer? Personally, I think it’s a myriad of things, and none of them have to do with age. I believe some of the most important aspects of a professional writer are:

  • They don’t use marketing gimmicks.
  • They have nice-looking covers.
  • They don’t constantly spam people with their buy links.
  • They gain positive reviews the honest way.
  • They put out well-written, well-edited products.
  • They price their books reasonably.
  • And, most importantly, they respect their readers.

Alright, I’m done ranting for now. Do you agree that age has nothing to do with publishing? And what do you think makes a professional writer?

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10 thoughts on “Why Age isn’t Relevant to Publishing

  1. I think age is definitely not an EXCUSE in publishing. Occasionally, though, it can be relevant. When St Mallory’s Forever was published, Charley and I would rather have kept quiet about being teenagers, but our cowriter Mark pointed out that as it’s set in a school, one of our unique selling points was that Charley was a student at a boarding school at the time, and the reason the book had got written was because we were the people to write it. So he insisted on including that in the marketing. I think he was probably right to do that, even if we were a little uncertain about it at the time.

    But I agree that it should never be used as a get out of jail free card — it’s absolutely no excuse for putting something out there that’s substandard.

    • I completely agree, as long as the author/publisher makes sure to use the age as a respectable marketing tool. Just like you do with your book–you pitch your book to readers as having authors with a unique viewpoint, and that’s all you mention your age for. (BTW, I noticed your book is free on Amazon. Is there any place I can buy a copy instead of downloading it for free? I hate thinking that you’ll earn nothing from a download…) And personally, I think that’s great marketing and just generally awesome. Unfortunately, though, most of the time when young writers mention their age, they use it as an excuse for something or other. And that has a tendency to drive me crazy, as you can likely tell from my post. 😉 So, yes, you’re right– age can be relevant to publishing. It just has to be done tactfully to avoid making me pull my hair out in frustration. 😛

      • Seriously? It’s free now? It really shouldn’t be, but it’s been steadily decreasing in price for ages and our publisher is in hospital and I’ve no power to change it. Drives me mad. Only thing I’m earning from these days is my poetry…and that’s not lucrative. Sigh. I have no power over where or for how much St Mall’s is sold, though it means a lot to me that you’d actively seek out a place to buy it.

      • Dang, that’s a tough situation to be in as an author. 😦 So sorry to hear you’re having issues with the publisher. It looks like it’s actually been free for awhile, because it’s ranked in the 6000’s within the free books ranking on the US listing. Most recently-free books are 2500 and under, so it’s most likely that your book has been free for at least a few weeks. I don’t say this to discourage you, but just so you know, because I imagine there’s no worse feeling than not knowing what’s going on with your own book. I have a CP who was in a similar situation just a few months ago, and it was really difficult for her. So big hugs to you, from one teen writer to another. I hope everything turns out okay, and you get more control soon.

        And I just bought “Fleeting Ink”, since I can’t purchase your novel at the moment. I’m not much of a poetry person (I’m not smart enough for it, haha), but I’m willing to give yours a shot, because I love your blog!

      • Oh, thanks! That’s nice to hear 🙂 I hope you enjoy it. Poetry’s a guilty pleasure of mine – I call myself a novelist, but I’m forever cheating on prose.

        It’s not Mark’s fault – it was on a temporary promotion that turned into a six-month promotion because of his internet issues, and now he’s ill, so I expect Amazon price-matched it with how it was on Nook, where I know it was on an even lower price. I don’t even know. I’ll rely on my poems for now as far as earning anything is concerned…

      • Ah, wow, that sounds like a confusing scenario. I hope your publisher gets better soon, and everything works out! And I look forward to diving into your book of poetry. 🙂

      • Hey there — looks like St Mall’s is $1.30 on Amazon US, as far as I can make out. It’s still pretty low, but it’s not on Free, so honestly I have no idea what’s going on anymore. 🙂

      • Hmm, that’s super weird. It’s still showing it as free on my end, and when I put it in the “shopping cart”, it says the charge to my credit card would be $0.00. So now I don’t know what’s going on either, haha…

      • That is very odd – there must be some kind of glitch in the system. I’ll have to contact Amazon. Would you be able to do me a huge favour and send screenshots of the problem to miriam@miriamjoywrites.com? Don’t worry if it’s too much bother, but if you have a minute, I’d appreciate it. 🙂

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