Is there a right or wrong age for success as an author?


Saturday evening I watched the ACFW awards via a live blog and simultaneous streaming video.  It was next best to attending in person. I stayed glued to my computer for three straight hours.

I held my breath as the finalists were named and winners announced, and smiled when familiar names came up. One thing that surprised me was the noticeable absence of men’s names among them. I can recall only one among the winners. (I’m not talking about agents, of course — Chip MacGregor looked very dashing in his kilt as he accepted an award on behalf of a client.)

What didn’t surprise me was the youthfulness of most finalists and winners – indeed of the various people pictured at the conference. Unless writers age extremely graciously, not many appeared to be in the over-fifty category. I’ve discovered that’s the norm.

When it comes to supportive cyber friends, age is irrelevant, but when I realize that publishing success seems to come more often to those under fifty, I have to question my own ambitions. After all, I’m in my retirement years. Publishing houses are looking for career writers who can be expected to produce for a number of years, and I understand the economics of that. But given the long years it can take to even get an agent, let alone a first book contract, is it reasonable to embark on the process at my age?

Is there discrimination against mature writers? Don’t they have a valuable perspective born of life experience to contribute to their stories? Do their ages have any bearing on the genre they write and the age group of their target market? Why are lists of debut authors populated mostly with young and good-looking people? Is there no place among the successful newcomers for greying hair and a few wrinkles? And where are all the men?

Now there’s a litany of questions for you to consider! Pick one – any one – and offer your opinion. 🙂


Disclaimer: No, I certainly wouldn’t risk including any photos of people I know. I don’t have a death wish!
Photos by Photostock and Graeme Weatherston.