Elizabeth Melton Parsons

Writing~Art~Life

Older Writers

10 Comments

Anyone who reads my blogs know that I spend a lot of time reading articles on writing, publishing…and so forth. Recently I’ve come across quite a few on the older writer. I find the bias against older writers by agents and publishers puzzling. If you’re asking yourself, what bias? Google for articles on the subject and you’ll find plenty written by both editors and agents. There are different reasons given for this bias. The most honest one I read about was in an article written by a top agent. This agent said it was unfortunate, but true that publishers prefer to publish and promote younger, more attractive writers. They seem to have the idea that the readers don’t want to read interesting, entertaining or informative books written by older writers. I beg to differ.

 

I’m an avid reader of many genres, both fiction and nonfiction. I could care less if the author of said works is 15 or 105. The only thing I care about is ‘did I enjoy it or get something useful from it’. As a teen, I devoured romance novels written by an elderly author. Her picture was on the back flap of all the books and although most were written before I was old enough to read such things, I’d search the used bookstores, flea markets, and yard sales for her books. Coming in second only to the Bronte sisters, she was my favorite author. As an adult, my reading tastes may have changed and broadened, but my opinion on writers hasn’t.

 

I know America is obsessed with youth and unlike some other countries, has an aversion to the aging process. All anyone has to do is look at all the ‘make over TV programs’ and see all the Botox and cosmetic ads to know that. The programs and ads don’t say ‘enhance your natural beauty’. No, they say ‘look younger’. Gracefully growing older has gone out of vogue. Sad.

 

Even with all this, I still can’t believe the American reader is so shallow as to walk into a bookstore, be attracted to a book cover, like the blurb, and then turn to the back, see the author is over fifty and say, “Yikes, I’m not reading that!” No way, I can’t and won’t believe it of us. We are not that shallow.

 

I read an article this morning on the subject of new novelists over fifty and almost fell off my chair laughing. First the article talked about some of the gangbuster novels written by authors under 21, and then went into the subject of bias against older first time novelists. According to the person quoted, older writers don’t understand that publishing is a business. Huh??? I doubt that. They then went on to say that writing is a career that takes time and training to perfect.

 

Okay…so these 15 – 18 year olds have had the time and training it takes to build that career??????? What a hoot!

 

Elizabeth Melton Parsons

http://elizabethmeltonparsons.com

 

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Author: Elizabeth Melton Parsons

I'm a novelist, poet, and artist. I love books, nature, art, and gardening. I'm a rock hound and that's me over there with a cool fossil rock I just found. I take a lot of nature pictures. The background here is one of mine. I live with the most awesome husband ever. I have two handsome and wonderful sons. I also have two equally handsome and wonderful stepsons. Then there's my pal, Bernie. He's a goofy boxer and he's great fun. Might be slightly deranged, but I love him anyway. I began my blog as a way to help promote my writing, but now I just blog for fun. It's an amazing way to find new people and see what their opinions and interests are. Visiting the blogs I follow is informative and highly entertaining. Thanks for visiting.

10 thoughts on “Older Writers

  1. Oops, sorry about the spelling error. Have a good day. Very interesting blog.

  2. Thanks for commenting, Susan. And no worry about the typo. I’m not a member of the grammar police squad on the net, so they don’t bother me. I make plenty of my own. :) Elizabeth PS: Good luck with your novel.

  3. I too am 50++, and am on the verge of completeing my first work of fiction. Not only am I concerned about my age being a drawback to getting published, but self-consciousness about my appearance concerns me as well. Should I put off trying to get published until they find the fountain of youth and I lose 50 lbs?

  4. No, Mike, in my opinion you should not put off trying to be published. Not all new writers are tall, not all are thin, and all are definitely not young. I say go for it. It’s the writing that counts. Elizabeth

  5. Perhaps you’re simply a more adept Googler than I, but I’ve been able to turn up next to nothing about the bias against older writers by agents and publishers. Hollywood, on the other hand… It would be nice if you could cite some sources, since you seem to have several in mind.

  6. Paul, I didn’t find these comments by googling. I read agent and editor blogs and interviews of agents and editors on a daily basis. That’s where I’ve seen the comments about age bias by publishers. After all, age discrimination is against the law. No one is going to openly admit to discrimination or if they are so bold, they will be sure to add that it’s really because older writers don’t know what they’re doing or some such nonsense, as in the Writers Digest Article.

    But here are just a handfull of articles that mention it:

    Shock News: Older Writers Can Also Be Quite Good by Miles Johnson

    The Guardian article: That Difficult First Novel: (be sure to read the paragraphs discussing the benefits of being young and attractive)

    ME Sharp article: Age Bias In Academic Publishing

    The Guardian article: Pensioners Write Novels Too

    Writers Digest Article: Publish Your First Book After Fifty

  7. Pingback: Wanted: ElderWriters/Bloggers « The Write Groove

  8. I came across your blog when I googled older writers. I have just selfpublished a sem-auto-biographical novel. I will be 70 in Nov.
    I was looking for comps for older writers and found that a new one has just been launched by the same people who launched the Orange Prize.
    I am tired of reading about the marvellous beautiful young women who are top of the best sellers. Sourgrapes? Perhaps. Even though older people have much more to write about which seems logical to me publishers want someone who is going to be a professional writer for years and provide them with many bestsellers. and why oh why does a very famous Writers’ mag publish huge photos of young beautiful writers? Sometimes two of the same person in the same issue.

    • I agree, Jean, but I don’t even worry about traditional publishers anymore. I’ve sold thousands of copies of one of my books in the last six months on Amazon Kindle and this has led to increased sales of the paperback version. And that’s with spending zero dollars on publicity/marketing. Just imagine if I had some extra cash for promotion. I’ll stick with self-publishing from now on. Will I get rich and famous doing it this way? No, but knowing so many readers are reading my book sure makes me deliriously happy. :) Good luck with your book.

  9. Interesting subject. I was looking for writers with experiences similar to mine when I found your blog. I have two strikes against me, I’m not only old as dirt, I’m male! I’ve been turned down by both agents and publishers because of my age, which I don’t try to hide. I can see their point. Publishing is a business, and they want to have many years to profit from taking a chance on a new writer. All is not lost, however. I’ve discovered Kindle and the 99 cent book. I have four books on line now, and they’re beginning to sell. I”m about as excited as an old guy can get.

    I’m sure ignoring the older generation of writers isn’t what’s killing conventional publishing, but e-books are not only changing the industry, they’re leveling the playing field. Go Kindle!

“Our opinions do not really blossom into fruition until we have expressed them to someone else.” ― Mark Twain

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