So tell me, what's it like being a young person in a field where it seems no one is under the age of thirty-five?
By "no one" I mean authors, of course. Aside from that Harvard student who plagiarized her novel and ended up being dropped by her publisher, I haven't heard of any other cases of young adults in America writing books.
Do you think there is a bias against young people? Are publishers or agents particularly worried about things like plagiarism -- especially after the incident I described above? Do you feel that your age was a factor (be it positive or negative) in your own path to publication?
I'm still young and delusional enough to think that my novel is going to sell and do very well. However the only case I can find of someone under the age of twenty-five who had a big hit was Brett Easton Ellis w/ "Less Than Zero" and later "American Psycho."
When I'm published I will be twenty-seven by only a few days. For the record. I wrote it when I was twenty-five.
In an earlier post I discussed writers in high school and gave some controversial advice about them submitting their writing. I didn't say that they shouldn't write - they should - but they're probably not going to have much success in publication and it's probably for the best.
This advice does not apply when people enter adulthood, which is a different age for everyone, but seems to happen between the ages of 18 and 25. When people become an adult they start writing like one (hopefully), and YA even takes some serious sophistication in thought. So why don't see you see more twenty-something writers?
(1) Generally people are not published on the first novel they write. The industry lore is that it's the third book you submit for publication that is the one that gets published. For me it was true, though I would say that was the ... I don't know, 10th manuscript I'd written. Something like that. And this is not including any writing I did in junior high or high school. Except for the occasional literary genius, writing a novel is a bit like driving: it takes some hours behind the wheel before you're good enough for a license.
(2) Many young authors are published, but in the form of short stories. There's probably two main reasons for this. One, a short story simply isn't as long, so you can get more practice in less time, though I could easily argue that a ten-page short story is as hard to perfect as a full-length novel. Two, most writing workshops (especially at the college and graduate level) are geared towards short stories, so that's what people are going to be encouraged to write.
(3) Many novelists do not report their age on the back cover. You usually have to go look it up somewhere, if it is to be found at all. Just because they haven't announced that they're twenty doesn't mean that they aren't.