How old is too old to write a novel? Are you too old if you’re 75?
Margaret posted this question on my “Ask A Question For My Blog” page:
Do you think it is a waste of time and energy for a person seventy-five years old to work toward a career (maybe short) in the writing/publishing business? What is the general response of a publisher when receiving a manuscript from a person this age?
Randy sez: Helen Hooven Santmyer was 88 years old when her best-selling novel, AND LADIES OF THE CLUB…, was published. She died at the age of 90.
A mere youth of 75 who wants to write a novel should write a novel.
As for what publishers will think, their opinions will vary all over the board. You’ll find a few publishers who think that anyone over 50 is a lost cause. You’ll find a few publishers who think that a 75-year-old author sounds like a pretty darned good publicity angle. You only have to find one publisher to get published.
In fact, publishers are no longer absolutely necessary. Don’t get me wrong — it’s great to be published by a traditional, royalty-paying publisher who pays you an advance, handles the editing and artwork and typesetting and distribution, and does a bit of marketing for you. I’ve worked with royalty-paying publishers for my entire writing career. For 498 of the past 500 years, publishers were a practical necessity if you wanted to make money as a novelist.
But in the last two years, plenty of authors have found that they can do better publishing their own work as e-books. When I say “do better,” I mean, “earn boatloads more money.” For details on that, go read the last ten blog entries of Joe Konrath. If you can read all ten of Joe’s latest blog posts and still NOT believe that we’re entering the Golden Age for Authors, then you have no pulse.
So Margaret, write that novel. Make it the best piece of work you can write. Then take your best shot at getting it published.
What have you got to lose?
If you’ve got a question you’d like me to answer in public on this blog, hop on over to my “Ask A Question For My Blog” page and submit your question. I’ll answer them in the order they come in.