Tag Archives: Bad Advice

#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.

Huh?

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.”

Huh?

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.”

Huh?

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!

 

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#NoraRoberts, #WritingAdvice, and #MondayMorningQuarterbacking…

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First, a disclaimer: this is not a post about football. I would be the last person on the planet to ever post about a game I know nothing about. I can’t even bulls**t my way through a discussion on it, so there.

Now. I was listening to a podcast recently about advice. How to give it, how to take it, when and why you should offer it. For the record, I don’t like to give advice routinely simply because I don’t like getting unsolicited advice. There’s always THAT person who thinks they know everything that will make your situation better and easier, and believe me, they are usually wrong. Having said that, there are two pieces of advice that I’ve heard throughout my writing career that I’d like to offer. One, I listened to.

First, the good piece of advice. I heard this at my very first RWA conference in San Antonio in 2014 from a chat with mega-wonderful Nora Roberts. Her advice to the following question,  “How can I find the time to be a prolific writer like you?” was simply the best thing I ever heard anyone say. It was:

advicenora2

 

See how good it is – someone made a Pinterest board for it!

Added to that advice was this little gem which I remind myself of daily:

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Words for a writer to live by.

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Now to the worst writing advice I’ve ever received. Here’s the backstory: I entered a contest and this was part of one judge’s critique. “If you change the name of the heroine, make her younger and give her a tragic background, you MAY ( and yes, she put may in capitals!) have the beginning of a decent story here.  Otherwise, I don’t see this book ever getting published. I also feel your hero is dumb.”

And I paid to enter that contest. Last one I ever entered, that’s for sure!

Well, the laugh is on her,  because I took none of her advice and that book, COOKING WITH KANDY, is coming out in April from Kensington/Lyrical Shine and I didn’t change a thing about the book/characters/backstory.

So here’s the Monday morning quarterbacking mentioned in the title to this blog in the form of my own writing advice- completely unsolicited.

                                                 Write for yourself, first.

I don’t have a Pinterest block to put up on that one, so I just bolded it in the hope that it makes a statement. YOU are your first reader.  If you don’t write something for you, that you love, that sings to you, it won’t do so for anyone else. Remember that. I do. Everyday.advice4

‘Nuff said.

When I’m not giving out unsolicited advice, you can find me here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me//

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Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, Kensington Publishers, Life challenges, love, Pet Peeves, Romance, Romance Books, RWA, Strong Women