Blog of Pulitzer Prize Nominated Author, Jory Sherman. Get the latest information on his books, appearances and his candid reflections on writing.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Is there age discrimination in the publishing industry toward mature writers?

I don’t know. I hope not, because this type of discrimination is both insidious and unfair. Age, as well as weight, looks, skin color, religious preferences, or politics, should never be a consideration when it comes to a writer’s work. The work is what counts, and if it’s good enough, then a writer’s age should be of no consequence.

But, perhaps age discrimination, if it exists in the publishing world, is not a matter of the quality of the work, but only a question of whether the writer will live long enough to complete the work. This would be very difficult to assess because there are no actuarial tables for writers. One can only guess, and perhaps editors and publishers do not like the odds in some cases.

Let’s take my case.

I am in good health. I have regular checkups at my VA clinic and the VA hospital. I am in better health now than I ever was because I follow my doctor’s advice. I eat what my nutritionist recommends. I exercise every day. My blood pressure is normal, and so are my cholesterol levels, both HDL and the other one.

If health is an issue because of my age, I’m way ahead of the curve.

As for my writing, I keep raising the bar as I have for 50 years in the business. So, the writing keeps getting better with each story and each book. As for production, I can still keep up with the young there. I write a new short story every month, many of which are posted on in the Amazon Shorts section. My last novel was 309 manuscript pages and I wrote it in 21 days. And, it’s one of the best I’ve ever written. I am working on a major series right now wherein each novel will run 1000 to 1200 pages. And, I plan to write 8 of them. This is a fantasy series I’m calling THE GATES OF DESTINY. I also want to write a Young Adult fantasy novel called THE EDEN TREE. And, I have a number of other projects I’m passionate about, including a mainstream novel about a single divorced mom who raises an autistic son, and a private eye mystery series set in Branson. And, so on.

I have time and energy to write all of these books. But, I have no agent at present and I’m wondering if my age, 75 this past October, might be holding me back.

Inside, I am any age I wish to be. My mind is ageless. The body ages, but the mind matures. Gauge me on my mind and my will, not my chronological age. That’s all I ask. I am passionate about every writing task I tackle and my energy is boundless. I don’t have sick days, unlike many of those working in offices who pass judgment on my ability to stay the course, and I don’t take vacations. I’m at my desk every day and I get younger in thought and deed while time plays its game on the rest of me.

I hope there is no age discrimination in this business that I love so much.

Why do I suspect that there might be some discrimination against me because of my age?

A few weeks ago I called an editor friend to ask if he would take a look at two proposals. The first words out of his mouth were: “How’s your health?”

I assured him I was in good health. Excellent health.

Then, later, he told me a story about a mutual writer friend of ours whose agent was pressing him for a larger advance. The editor did not offer more money because he knew the writer was in poor health (although young) from drinking too much. The editor told me: “As soon as the money was banked, he died.”

So, perhaps age and health should be considered when negotiating contracts. I have no quarrel with that. But, I do not want to be judged on the past performance of others, nor discriminated against because I fall into a certain age bracket or might become suddenly ill. As someone once said, “You could slip on a banana peel tomorrow and break your neck. Just live in the moment.” And, that is what I do. And, each moment seems better than the last.

Right now, I’m not taking sides. In fact, I am giving those who might read my proposals the benefit of the doubt.

All I can say on my behalf, as I sail these current doldrums, is that I’m only as good as my next book.

Just let me prove it.

Jory Sherman