I’m approaching a Milestone Birthday, so questions of age and life have been on my mind a lot lately. But it’s not just now—I found this old chart I put together back in April 2015 that shows it was weighing on my mind then as well! I intended to blog about it, but I never got around to it until now, which sounds about right for my blogging habits. =)
So what is this graph showing? Basically, it’s the amount of Google results for “Best age to publish first novel is X”, where X ranged from 18 to 80. I scaled the y-axis to the range of the results, so 1.0 represents the maximum amount of hits and 0.0 represents the minimum.
It’s an interesting result. The max is a clearly defined peak at 27, which might be a bit depressing for those of us on the other side of that. But there’s another peak at 58, and high marks through the 70s. Are we ever really too old to pursue our dreams? I think that the answer to that is definitely NO! However, I’ll add a caveat here. I think when people say that, what they are saying is that you are never to old to start pursuing your dreams. But does the calculus still hold when you’ve been trying for pretty much your whole life and never really budged an inch on the dream-o-meter? I don’t have an answer for that. It’s a question that I spend a lot of time pondering, and I think we each have to come to our own answer on when to let something go and when to persevere.
The good news is that we are not the only ones asking these questions. The upside of gathering this data (aside from the fact that it gave me something to do during my excruciatingly slow and boring day job at the time) was that I found a lot of interesting results about other people grappling with the same question. So maybe I won’t be the youngest debut author, and maybe I won’t ever be a debut author, but I am definitely not crazily insecure, neurotic, or even unique in my anxieties.
- Are You Too Old to Write a Bestseller?: This writer is 65 and undeterred.
- This chart proves it’s never too late to publish a novel: The chart referenced in the headline appears to no longer work (like I said I gathered this info in 2015) but the article still contains encouraging info about those of us lamenting our advancing age!
- First Novel Survey Results: An unscientific but extremely informative survey of authors and their first sale. Notably, “Of our 246 authors, the average age at the time they sold their first professional novel was 36.2 years old. The median was also 36, and the mode was 37. Basically, the mid-to-late 30’s is a good age to sell a book.”
- A Debut Novel by a 64-Year-Old Author? Great Literary Late Bloomers: This Atlantic article profiles some examples of older authors and also references the site Bloom, dedicated to writers who started after 40.
- Publish Your First Book After 50: An honest but encouraging look at breaking into the business as an older writer from the perspective of an agent.
- Why New Novelists Are Kinda Old, or, Hey, Publishing is Slow: This post from John Scalzi’s popular Whatever blog explains why it’s totally normal to not be a teenage wunderkind in publishing (although that’s cool too!).