Does Age Factor into Publishing Success? by Robert Lee Brewer

As the editor of, I’m asked a lot of questions-some more frequently than others. One of the most popular questions concerns ageism. Young writers always fear they are too young to be published; older writers fear they are considered too old to write. However, I’ve always maintained that age doesn’t play a major factor in publishing success.

Recently, I sent out a survey to the editors of several North American consumer magazines, asking the magic question, “Is age a factor on whether a writer gets published or not?” 38 magazines responded, with 37 claiming age does not play any role in whether a writer gets published. In fact, most editors surveyed said they didn’t even know the ages of most of their freelancers. The only magazine that does consider age a factor is Stone Soup, the magazine by young writers and artists. The tagline pretty much says it all.

So, what are North American magazine editors concerned with, if not age? Here are some recurring responses.

  • Writing Experience. Editors are highly sensitive of a writer’s past publication credits. The longer the publishing history, the more comfortable the editor feels that a writer will be easy to work with and will hit deadlines.
  • Knowledge of Subject. Editors love for writers to be experts on the subjects they cover. Readers appreciate it as well. Experts know their subject well enough to put convincing and immediate details into articles, while also making sure their facts are accurate.
  • Knowledge of Audience. You can increase your chances of being published dramatically by just investing a little time in reading the magazine. By doing this, you can get a better handle on who the audience of the magazine is, including what stories they might be interested in reading. If you can demonstrate this knowledge to editors, they will love you for it.
  • Focused Query Letter. A query letter is usually the first impression a writer makes on an editor. Make sure your writing is flawless in this initial contact, because it can ruin your chances of ever getting published if your query letter includes a typo or is filled with bad grammar. Also, if your query letter isn’t properly focused, then an editor has every right to believe your article won’t have a clear focus either.
  • Appropriate Writing Style. If you know the audience, you probably won’t have trouble figuring out the appropriate writing style for an article. However, it is possible to give all the content an audience wants without following a magazine’s editorial style. In the end, you must follow that style to get published. Pay attention to the tone of previously published articles in the magazine and compare those pieces to your own.

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