My writing teacher read us a blog piece where a Miami agent had heard from an editor, “If only the writer were younger.” The editor used the writer’s age as a reason to turn down a manuscript she liked. This made the Miami agent wonder if writing were “a young man’s game.” This another reason why traditional publishing is in trouble. When young men are chosen over other writers merely because of their age and sex, it is no wonder so many authors are skipping the traditional publishing route entirely. A recent survey of prestigious review journals and newspapers revealed that not only are men’s books reviewed more often than women’s, but journals and newspapers assign most reviews to male writers. This is insane. Women are the readers, buying far more books than men. Romance novels alone are about fifty percent of all fiction sales in the US. And who can tell whether the author is young or old unless the publisher makes a point of touting the author’s age? Most of the great literature is not written by the young; it is written by middle aged people. With most writers coming into their greatest power in their middle age.
Not only are women most of the readers, but today’s young men are not prejudiced against female authors. With women and young men willing to read women’s writing, whether it be reviews, articles, or novels, traditional publishers and book stores would behoove themselves to get with the new millennium and select writing by quality not by author age, not by author gender.