Thursday, July 21, 2016

Selling Your Voice

I am finding myself spending a lot of time lately talking about submissions and pitches. Maybe it is that time of the year, or maybe my brain just happens to be heading that direction. Regardless of the reason, I want to spend some time today to talk about the concept of voice. More importantly, how do you do convey your personal voice in your submissions to editor and agents?

As I noted yesterday, for most authors, when they pitch stories to editors and agents, whether it is in a live pitch or a submission, the focus tends to be very informational and mostly plot oriented. While part of this is true, and, it is important to focus on the facts and to keep it objective. However, it is still important to find a way to demonstrate what makes your voice unique. This is where so many authors mess up.

As we all know, every author has a unique voice. This is what you will end up "branding" as your voice to the publishers and certainly your readers. When someone picks up your book, they want to know what they are getting. At Greyhaus Literary Agency, when authors pick up a Lauri Robinson historical, they want the strong authentic feel of the west. When they pick up an Ann Lethbridge historical, they want the depth of history as well as unique characterizations. A Helen Lacey novel will always have characters involved with plots containing unexpected turns. A Bronwyn Scott novel will have the sensuality to make your toes curl.

When you think about all of your projects you have written, look for the trend in the voice. What seems to be a binding voice that appears in all. You will note, I am not saying things such as theme or plot. Along the same lines, we are not using terms such as "sweet romance." This tells us nothing. We are looking for that voice which your readers will be known for.

At this point, some of you may be worried. "But Scott, you said think of all of your projects? I only have one!" That's right! Your voice develops over time. As you are thinking about submitting that first novel, you should be well on the way writing your next one and have several others planned out. This should be enough for you to see that voice developing.

I should also say that you can't necessarily create a voice. Your voice is unique to you. Trying to be something you aren't will be difficult. For example, the odds of a Bronwyn Scott writing inspirational romances are highly unlikely. It is simply not her voice.

So, as you write your query letter or think about your pitch, what can you say about your writing. You can certainly say things such as "In my stories, I strive to bring a [insert description] feel to my stories." or "Writers can expect X when they pick up one of my stories."

Now, go out and play around with this today!

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