For some reason I get a lot of queries where the writer feels the need to share her age. Most commonly it’s people who are in their 70s or 80s and feel the need to tell me they don’t have a lot of time left, or people in their 20s or teens who are concerned that age might be an issue.
Don’t bother telling your age. As Cynthia Shapiro, the author of Corporate Confidential has said, “age discrimination does exist.” So why tempt fate? Frankly, I don’t care how old you are, but if you tell me you’re only 15 it’s going to make me immediately wonder whether or not you are ready to write a book, and that’s not fair to you. And if I tell a publisher you’re 8,5 they are going to wonder whether it’s worth making a financial investment in your career. Remember what I’ve said before . . . publishers are looking for a reason to reject a book. So why give it to them so easily?
Not pleasant to hear, I know, but these are the hard truths of any business, not just publishing. Listen, it’s hard enough to get published, so why set yourself up for possible rejection when you don’t have to? If it’s unlawful to ask a question in an interview, don’t give the answer voluntarily. The same holds true for query letters. I don’t need to know your age, marital status, or any health issues you might have. When sending me your query, stick to what is really important, and that’s your book. And only your book. I care only about what makes your book different from anything else ever written, and if the only thing you can come up with is that you’re 14, that’s not going to be enough.