Sunday, December 05, 2010

How Old are Traditionally Published First-Time Authors?

Earlier this year, the Humber School of Creative & Performing Arts conducted a survey to find out how old the average prose writer is when he(she) publishes his first book through a traditional publisher. The survey did not include academic writers.

1,500 questionnaires were sent out last spring and 475 writers responded. Survey results show that the average age of a first-time published author is 42, which is older than the survey team thought it would be.

42, huh? Isn’t this the answer to the meaning of life spewed out by that super-computer in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy? Well, let’s face it; traditionally publishing your first book does provide one’s life with meaning, I suppose. And the Hitchhiker’s Guide came from the imagination of a writer, the late great Douglas Adams.

Frankly, I’m a bit surprised that the average age is only 42. I know of several writers who took about twenty years just to find a publisher for their first books. And I know of one writer who traditionally published his first two books this year at age 87.

My first traditionally published book, The Opposite of Dark, will be out this spring, and I’m 55, so, you see, there’s plenty of time for you aspiring writers out there.

If you’d like to see more about the study, including charts (although they’re too small to easily see on your screen) go to

My Alex Bellamy mysteries can be purchased at


Julie H. Ferguson said...

I'm surprised that the average age is 42 as well -- must be because of the few very young first time authors, of which there are few.
I was 50 when my first book was published and that one took 11 years from concept to launch, admittedly a part-time project while I had a family and a day job.

Robin Spano said...

Yeah, I also thought it was older. I remember hearing a statistic (oddly, at the Humber School for Writers), that had it in the 50s or 60s.

That was a few years ago. Maybe it's coming down. I wonder if the e-book, Twitter, and blogosphere revolution has anything to do with that.

Amanda Borenstadt said...

Yay, so I haven't passed it yet! :)
I still have a little less than a year and a half.

I love that the age is the answer to Life, The Universe, and Everything! :)

Anonymous said...

Hope for me yet then, I'm only 37! Hi guys. Came across you on Kindleboards. Love the blog, will stick you on my blogroll. Keep it up!