Age is no barrier to a writing career

Welcome! This is my debut blog about the book publishing industry, which I am involved in through my business, helping writers with editing, proofreading, book design, cover design and formatting for Kindle. I will be posting future blogs about books, which I hope you will enjoy …


A MEMBER of a writers’ group recently posted on an internet forum: “Is it possible to become a successful author after age 65?”

The question sparked more than 300 comments in just a few days, with a resounding ‘yes’ from all contributors.

Frank McCourt
Frank McCourt

Many told how they had self-published books in their late 60s and even 70s, and singled out the late Frank McCourt as a role model – his memoir Angela’s Ashes was published in 1996 when McCourt was 65, and won a Pulitzer Prize the following year.

'Sandy' McCall Smith
‘Sandy’ McCall Smith

And then there’s Alexander McCall Smith, now aged 66, who is still churning out novels – 16 years after the publication of his debut novel, the best-selling No 1 Ladies Detective Agency.

P D James
P D James

Others mentioned the veteran crime writer P. D. James, who died last year, aged 94. Her novel Death Comes To Pemberley was published in 2011, when she was 91.

Many of the forum commentators said old age was no barrier to a successful writing career, especially when Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace operations don’t care whether the self-published writer is four years old … or 104.

Even traditional publishing houses are having to rethink their long-standing bias against taking on older writers for fear they may only produce one best-seller before shuffling off the mortal coil, with limited revenue for the company.

These days, if Methuselah had penned a cracking novel and puffed into the offices of Simon & Schuster, they’d probably sign up the 969-year-old on the spot with a 10-book deal and a big advance, rather than fob him off with a cup of coffee and a free dog-eared paperback.

One of the clients of my business is in his mid-70s and I was surprised when he contacted me to edit, proofread and format a novella he had written. When he sent me the manuscript a few weeks later, I was thrilled to find it was a superb piece of writing, what I would call proper English literature.

He astounded me even more when he later said he’d just completed a 95,000-word major novel, spanning the main character’s lifetime. I’ve edited this book and it’s a terrific read. And now he’s won a prize for screenwriting, telling me he’s never been so busy. Not bad for a septuagenarian.

That old idiom ‘There’s life in the old dog yet’ certainly applies to the world of self-publishing these days.

Maybe it’s even time to scrap those old-age jokes like …. “Old is when your wife says, ‘Let’s go upstairs and make love,’ and you answer, ‘Honey, I can’t do both!’” or “Old is when ‘getting lucky’ means you find your car in the supermarket car park”.

FOOTNOTE: If any of you have written a book – either fiction or non-fiction – and need help with editing, proofreading, formatting for Kindle, or paperback design and cover design, I can help you on the road to publication. See below.

kindlegirlJPEG - Copy (2)

My business offers editing, proofreading, formatting and book and cover design services to self-published writers, of both fiction and non-fiction. See my website for full details. Check out my Facebook page and follow me on twitter


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