#MFRW I don’t like your voice….

The prompt of this piece is the worst writing advice I’ve ever gotten. I’m gonna share that, but a little backstory first so you can understand why the advice was the worst!

I’ve been searching for a literary agent since I started my journey in publishing. Haven’t found one yet but it’s not because I haven’t tried. At every conference I attend that allows agent pitches I sign up for a spot. In the past three years I’ve pitched myself and my work to 9 different literary agents. 6 were NYC based, 2 were from California, and one was from the NorthWest. They’ve all been industry  pros with great author pedigrees and clients,  but none of have them have offered to represent me. They’ve all asked for me to send them my work, which I have. Now remember, I’ve pitched to 9 agents. 4 never bothered to contact me back after I’d sent the work and waited the allotted 30 then 60 days for a response. When I did re-email them, no responses. 4 sent me form rejection letters within 15-30 days after I’d mailed my CV and work, not commenting on what I’d sent. The last agent I met with was last year. I’d actually connected with her via email  prior to the conference and she’d asked me to send her my work right away so that she could get a feel for what I wrote before meeting me. I complied.

I met her face to face for an allotted 15 minute meet/pitch and the first thing she said to me was “I don’t like your voice.”


I knew she meant my writing voice, not my actual voice voice. Even so, that was a bit…harsh as an opening line. She went on to say she’d read 5 pages of the 30 she’d requested and couldn’t get past the way I wrote. There was nothing technically wrong with it, she said, just that it was unappealing.


Okaaaaaaaaay. This had taken exactly 15 seconds of a 15  minute space. What was I supposed to do? Sit there and just stare at her until time was up? Stick up for myself? Cry?


I mean really. Talk about how to hurt someone’s feelings. Only, mine weren’t hurt, surprisingly. No, I was feeling something else entirely.

When I get really mad I tend to get very quiet. Deathly so. People around me have remarked that me, quiet, is terrifying.


I was so stunned by what she’d said, I couldn’t think of a response. That silence, I think, prompted her to say her next thing – the worst advice I’ve ever gotten. “You should think about changing your voice. Experiment with something different, because I just don’t think you’re going to sell commercially sounding the way you do.”


It was apparent to me that she hadn’t read the publishing CV I’d sent along. Last year I had already had 8 books traditionally published and had contracted for 3 more. So without an agent I’d already sold 11 book to publishers. If she’d read that she would have known that SOMEBODY liked my writing voice enough to publish me. 11 times. Traditionally.


Again, I stayed silent and smiling, even though I wanted to stick my tongue out at her and say, “so there!!” I know. Real mature. By now I knew even if she offered me a contract ( which she didn’t) I wouldn’t sign with her. If you have an agent you want her/him to be on your side, have your back, and promote you and your work and strengths. When I continued to stay mute she said, “Well, I have a lot of people to see today. I’ll be making decisions on who I want to take on, what work, and such, so  I’ll get back to you within a week or so with my decision.”


Hadn’t she just told me my voice was horrible and that I’d never sell commercially? That certainly didn’t sound like she wanted to represent me, does it? I couldn’t take it another minute. I stood, shook her hand and said, “thanks for meeting with me. Enjoy the rest of the conference,” and I bolted before she could say another word.

Weird, right?

Do I really need to tell you she never, ever, got in touch with me again? Not even a form letter.

Like I said: weird.

So that advice –  to change my writing voice – was simply the worst piece of writing advice I’ve ever gotten. Who would say that? WHY would you say that? Each writing voice is unique; distinctive; individual. I could understand that she didn’t like mine. You can’t please everybody. But as an industry professional to actually tell me to change something that’s so inherently part of me is like asking me to change my DNA makeup; my height; my personality. Would you ask Dr. Suess not to rhyme? Would you advise ee cummings to capitolize?  Make Janet Evanovich ditch the humor? Good God, would you ask Jane Austen to stick to writing letters and give up on the whole fiction thing?

Needless to say, I am still on that quest to find an agent. Preferably one who likes my voice.

Since this is a blog hop, click on the other authors in this challenge and see more example of bad writing advice!



Filed under #Mfrwauthors, Author, Contemporary Romance

13 responses to “#MFRW I don’t like your voice….

  1. Maureen Bonatch

    How exasperating! It’s so frustrating that some people believe their position puts them above being polite and manners. Your writing voice makes you the author that you are.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Peggy Jaeger

      Maureen – that’s the way I feel! We all have our own “voices.” I’m chalking this one up as in the “at least I was nice to her,” category!


  2. Wow Peggy! That’s kinda nuts. I’ve not done the agent query thing and I’m not signing up for any face to face pitches at the RWA conference. The whole idea is scary. But I agree, for her to start with her not liking your voice, that is a terrible lead in. She could have delivered the news in a softer way and maybe even pointed out what she may have had issues with, but that was wholly unprofessional. Sorry you went through that! Good luck on your continued search for an agent!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peggy Jaeger

      Meka- thanks! Like I said, it was fine she didn’t like my writing voice. You can’t please everyone. But the advice to change it was, in my opinion, just wrong on so many levels!


  3. Wow! Just wow. I can’t believe someone would be so rude not to mention clueless. I am scheduled for my first ever pitch at a conference tomorrow. I hope I don’t have a similar experience.


    • Peggy Jaeger

      Trust me, you won’t. I’;ve tried to see her side of it and I think she was trying-TRYING-to help me. Her intent was, I believe, good hearted. It was the delivery that sucked wind. GOOD LUCK TOMORROW!!!!


  4. You showed amazing restraint in face of what I can only describe as blatant rudeness. Move on, Peggy and continue letting the strong and lovely voice vibrate throughout your work. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peggy Jaeger

      Joanne – #Blessyou. Believe me, restraint isn’t my forte!! hahaha. BUt I really think she felt she was helping me. too bad the delivery sucked.


  5. Wow, Peggy. And if you signed with her, you’d be paying her 15% while trying to conform to her expectations. I wonder when agents will go the way of the dodo?
    I pitched to an editor at a conference once, and that person was confrontational about my story to the point of rudeness. I was fuming, but I held myself together. Looking back, considering some other authors’ experiences, I’m so glad that editor wasn’t receptive! I feel like I dodged a bullet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peggy Jaeger

      ALina- I truly believe that 99.99% 0f agents and editors are WONDERFUL!! They want to read and represent your work. It’s their bread and butter. And I think this agent really thought she was helping me. It was just her delivery that needed attention!


  6. No words on that one Peggy. Doesn’t she know who you are? A badass, successful, driven, awesome writer with a fabulous voice. A good agent would tell you that your voice didn’t resonate with her/him, but encourage you to find one who loves your voice. It is a highly subjective business.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Holy moly! And, sadly, you reacted the way I do when startled, amazed, bitch-slapped… you just kind of freeze, attempt to process what you just heard, and by then it’s too late 😦 I’ll bet a lot of great come-backs hit you awhile later, though. It’s good to know you stuck to your guns and refused to let what she said get you down or (heaven forbid) believed her and tried to change who you are as a writer. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.