Re: "Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold
You need to be aware of the market and its sophistication, if you want to be published. In terms of SF, this means looking at authors like Alastair Reynolds, Charles Stross, Neal Asher, Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Richard Morgan and others (their ages range from 30-odd to about 50) who have broken through over the last five years. In fantasy terms, China Mieville, George R R Martin, Naomi Novik...a publishers' sales director has to equate a new author with a recent name when he or she discusses them with the bookselling trade, rather than long-term bestsellers. It's an industry, and being aware of the market as it stands in 2006 is part of a prospective writer's job. And everyone has to pay their dues, which means writing, writing and more writing...I mentioned Iain Banks, He was 30 when his first novel was published. Over fifteen years working in mainstream publishing (which I didn't enter until I was 34), I didn't publish many authors in their 20s. Of course there are exceptions - but that's what they are: exceptions. Most people younger than that need more experience and time learning their craft to be extra-special enough for publication. But you can't start too early. Just don't expect a fast-track to publication.