Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Keep in mind - voice sells

A few weeks ago I was at a meeting in which I met a few bright-eyed newbies who appeared the veritable aliens interspersed in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Overwhelmed? Most definitely. Curious? Decidedly. Amped up and ready to make their mark on the publishing industry? Yes.

One conversation perked a great deal of interest amongst those who attended. Wasn't it enough to just get published? This sprang from one young writer who was collecting e-publishing contracts like there was no tomorrow. Granted, we weren't stunned that she was suddenly feeling like the cat's cream, but we (those of us who have been in the industry for quite some time) felt she needed a bit of a grounding.

First point of contention arose from her attitude. We've all met the 'supposed' and 'self-proclaimed' gods of writing whether on the web or at a confie. In the past I have discussed their flawed rules until everybody around me was ready to scream. This author had only been writing for two or three years, but spewed, 'write this way and not that' to anybody who would listen. She had the unmitigated gall to come to me and tell me that I didn't know how to write because I don't plot a story to the smallest detail.

Want to turn me around to the bad side - that's how to do it. Though, I don't believe in engaging in petty arguments, especially around my contemporaries. Thus I was thinking, 'go away, little bug'.

The second part of the discussion which really got the established authors interest was when she rambled off all her publishers and the style she was writing in. As if that was some great feat of her writing ability. I will never forgive my friend, John, for egging this author on to deliver even more information.

It was when she came up for air, and she did need to take a breather, that I interjected, 'so there is no consistency in your voice'. It wasn't a question, but a statement of fact. A scathing glare directed at me caused most of the room to come to a standstill. She tried to flub out, 'that doesn't matter. I got the credit.' She stuck her foot even further down her throat by going into no-man's-land with a single statement. 'Besides, this publisher didn't mark my head hopping, so I'm okay'.
To what end?

One of the aspects readers fall in love with is a writer's voice. This is independent of the publisher or the plot. And, consistency of voice is the responsibility of the author. A publisher is not going to traipse over the internet to read what you have written before. We don't have the time, or the energy. Though, most publishers will visit blogs or websites.

Here's a very big issue many newbie authors do not understand. If you don't have a consistent voice, you are more likely to alienate readers. It isn't to say you shouldn't take another voice out for a spin, you should, but you have to be extremely careful when doing so. If you sell a totally different voice, (note: I
said totally different), you need to accept the fact that some readers might snort in derision at you. It takes a firm strategy to market a new voice. You
have to prep your readers for the switch and gather a new group of readers by promoting the new voice.

Be careful with your wonderful gems. Give them love, care and a consistency no matter what a publisher might say.

So, what's your take on voice. Do you love one, but can live with another from a single author or does it leave a bad taste in your mouth?




Diana Castilleja said...

I've found writing in certain genres has more of an impact on my voice than anything else. With my primary genre in Paranormal, it doesn't change a lot, but it has highs and lows.

I do agree voice consistency is very important to gathering a readership. It produces a level of comfort for that reader and every reader thereafter.

TJ said...

Thanks for taking time out of your busy day to stop by.

P.S. love the new story.

Sandy said...


That newbie sounds a little dense and full of herself. Grin.

I'm not sure if this is the same, but I'm a fan of James Patterson, and one day I was getting onto a plane where a guy was,too. The man had a book by Mr. Patterson, and he was ranting about it saying he would never read another book by him. He tossed the book in a seat and kept going, and I picked it up deciding to find out why he didn't like it.

This book happened to be a beginning of a futuristic series or sequel. I don't remember the title, but I thought it was good only it was about a government facility developing children with unique abilities. Also, about those same children trying to escape.

Now, if a noted author can't get away with something so totally different what makes your newbie think she change her voice on every story she writes and gain a readership? It just shows she knows nothing about the industry.

T.J., I admire you for your restraint.

Great post, T.J.