Dear A. E.…
Who says you have to reveal your age when you submit? Just say, “This would be my debut book” in your query letter and leave it at that. They’ll judge the manuscript on its own merit, with no age-related bias. You can share your age after they decide they like your work. And then, frankly, your age becomes a selling point. An agent would love to pitch the “next Christopher Paolini.” I’ve seen agents go out with that as the lead in their pitch. In fact, that may be an argument for revealing your age in the query letter. If you show in that letter that you’ve got writing chops and then swoop in at the end with the news that you’re just 16, agents will eagerly ask for your full manuscript. Should they ultimately decide it’s not for them, I’m confident “blowing off” won’t be involved. Typically, folks in publishing like to encourage young writers.
One more thing: Do your homework when researching agents. You want a well-reputed one. Start with the Literary Market Place, identify agencies/agents who want submissions in your genre, then google their names to see what other writers are saying about them and who they represent. Their agency websites should state if they’re members of the AAR, an organization that requires ethical practices of its members. Certain names will rise to the top of your list pretty quickly.