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Entries in age (1)

Monday
Feb282011

Does Age Matter?

Question of the day: All of this talk about finding a newbie agent has me wondering: how important is age? I.e, would you pitch an agent who was significantly out of your (or your characters') demographic?

Ooh, great question! And one that I'm going to answer frankly...and I hope that others will chime in with their thoughts too. For me, age mattered. But not, perhaps, for the reasons you'd think. 

When I was looking for an agent, I was looking for someone with whom I could establish a true partnership. Some authors want agents who will very much take the lead (and that's totally, totally fine). I wanted someone who wouldn't at all mind if I wanted to work alongside her. For me, this naturally lead to the idea that she (or he) would be an ally, and ultimately, a friend. And in the same way that you often gravitate towards friends who are in the same life-stage as you (give or take some years), so too did I with an agent.

Also, I tend to write characters who reflect circumstances of my own decade/generation. I wasn't sure that someone significantly older would enjoy my writing style, my language, the conflicts that my characters found themselves in. Which may sound small-minded, but I don't mean it that way at all. In fact, I was worried that if I pitched someone much older than me, he or she would simply have outgrown the concerns that my characters face. After all, fiction is subjective, and we often do gravitate toward characters with whom we relate. In the same sense, I almost entirely limited my search to women. (Not entirely, but mostly.) Again, this says NOTHING about the fantastic male agents out there (of which there are so many), rather it was simply my attempt at efficiency - me asking myself: WHO IS THE MOST LIKELY TO ENJOY MY WORK? And the honest truth of that is that most frequently, it is women who are more or less my age (obviously, give or take a decade).

So for me, age mattered. Again, NOT because I'm an ageist!!! But because finding an agent is about finding the best match for you, and I wanted, for example, that ridiculous banter that my agent and I sometimes have about stupid reality shows or swapping child-rearing tips or complaining about the exhaustion of motherhood. This was part of my idea of an overall partnership. And I guess, in thinking about it, that's not so much about age as it is about relatability - I wanted someone who GOT me, and for me, I upped my odds of this by aiming within my age range. 

Fellow authors - did you do the same or did age not factor in to your decision making at all?