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