Your brain cells begin to deteriorate as you age. You lose coordination and memory. Thought processes begin to slow. We've all heard those dire predictions of what it's going to be like in our "golden years." But doctors aren't really sure what actually happens to our brain as we age. All they've been able to agree on is to disagree. I guess we'll just have to wait and experience it for ourselves, right?
There have been several articles detailing the trials and tribulations of writing if you're an older author. Many of the articles try to remain positive but ultimately must offer reality based advice. If you're sixty-plus and already in the publishing loop, you will have certain advantages....somewhat. But what about those who are late starters and have started writing well into their fifties and maybe even sixties. What are your chances of finishing your manuscript and getting it published? Is there age discrimination among publishers? Yes....and no.
Publishers view authors as investments. They want the most production and longevity from their investment. It isn't hard to see why agents and publishers will skip over a fifty-eight year old novice over a twenty-eight year old with a long life ahead of making money for the publisher. Well, if you're famous, age isn't a barrier, but then, if you're famous, you won't be reading this blog. And publishers want books on a regular basis from their authors. How many books will a sixty year old have in her? How long does it take for a senior to complete a book? Is it true that the brain slows down, hence your writing abilities and speed? If you're a senior author, do you find it more difficult to put your thoughts to paper in an easy manner? Are complex plots too complicated? Does your mind wander to everything but your writing?
Please don't think I'm talking about dementia or worse. I'm asking a serious question that seniors should face as they age but want to continue writing. I know I have slowed down. I realize that each and every one of us will age differently. Some of us will be struck with diseases that might take a bit out of us while others may remain healthier. That will definitely affect your writing. But let's talk about what awaits the senior author once they have a book finished.
The reality is that the senior author will have a much bleaker chance of landing an agent or a publisher if they have never published before. Certainly, there are smaller publishers that will be open to senior authors. Some won't care at all about the age of the author. Still, it is tough out in the publishing business even for younger authors. How up are you, if you're sixty and pushing a manuscript, to wait a year, two years or more for an agent? And are you willing to wait another year or two or more for publication? If you're in your sixties, you might be close to seventy by the time you see print.
Is independent publishing more attractive to the senior author? If you're a late-blooming author or an author who has published before but has since been out-of-print or been dropped by your publisher, does the thought of independently publishing your work appeal to you?
If you'd like to share your thoughts, I welcome other opinions and discussion.