I’ve seen people of all ages — both teens and older people — wonder if they have any chance of being traditionally published. Do not worry! People of any age may publish. The industry cares not about your age, only about whether you are producing sellable material.
Quality is the issue, not age
Being traditionally published is difficult, no matter how old you are. It’s ultra-competitive. Good novels don’t get picked up. Novels that aren’t written at a competitive level certainly aren’t going to get picked up.
I’ve heard both teens and older people gripe that they aren’t being picked up because of their age. In my opinion, that’s an excuse. If you want to be traditionally published, it can take YEARS of writing, getting feedback, and querying to finally write a novel that interests an agent.
Young people complain they won’t be record-breakingly young if it takes that long. Older people complain they might be dead if they wait for all that. Unfortunately, that’s how the industry works. It takes only the best, and the competition is fierce.
They don’t know your age
The truth is, unless you tell an agent or publisher your age, they don’t know — and you shouldn’t be telling them. They’re not choosing (or rejecting) YOU. They’re selecting your book.
If you’re considering traditional publishing:
Do not mention your age in a query. It will not get you a break, and it may prejudice them against you.
Be aware that you are competing against professionals. Your age doesn’t get you any special consideration.
Your age may be relevant after the book is sold, when Marketing is looking for a hook, but it’s not relevant when you’re looking for an agent or publisher.
Present yourself and your query package professionally. The industry won’t see “child” or even “newbie.” They see “unprofessional” and reject.
If you’re younger than 18, be aware that if there’s a contract, your parents will have to sign it.
If you are self publishing, age is also irrelevant beyond providing a tax information and a credit card to pay for services that require upfront payment.