One Voice among many
Yesterday we talked about being unique; today I want to talk to you about being a Voice. You say you’re popular among your writing friends. They swoon at your feet and are a welcome relief in the struggle to get to the top of your writing journey. That’s all well and good, but what does your voice sound like to strangers who’ve never met you.
Say a publisher is reading your work. They don’t know you from Adam so they are not in the popular crowd that you’re so used to having lifting you up and stroking your ego. They are strangers and theirs are the eyes that will read/publish your cherished work.
Like I had said, being popular is all well and good in your little clique of writers, but it isn’t going to help you among total strangers who are going to take a chance on you. Without a voice, you will get nowhere.
1) Query – Your query letter is going to be your voice to someone outside the familiar territory of your group of friends. Read the guidelines and follow them. They don’t want to know how to throw pies at someone, or hear your favorite joke, they want to hear about your story, and that is it!
2) Presentation – The way you present yourself is going to be the step you stand on. This isn’t the time to put on your funny hat and think that a magazine publisher/editor is your bud. Be professional. I tried to teach this to students and they pointed out quickly that the classroom is for fun and silly. I just wanted them to be prepared for the seriousness of writing and submitting. By practicing being a professional, maybe you’ll carry that with you when you need it the most. Point taken: classroom = fun and silly learning, Professionalism for the real world.
3) Reasons for wanting your work – You’ll give them the reason they are going to want to publish your work. Save your life story for the novel. This is not the place to think you are rubbing elbows. If you haven’t found your voice by now, this is not the place to begin looking for it. Give them a heartfelt, down to earth, PROFESSIONAL reason. What? You didn’t learn how to be professional? Should have listened to me the first time.
4) Waiting – This is the hardest part, even harder than the submitting of your work. The waiting is where you’ll more than likely cast self-doubt and second-guess, look at your work again and find fault, see errors and a ton of other negative things. Don’t do it. As hard as it may seem, don’t fret over your submission and being accepted. It may take months before you hear from someone, so take this time to write new material.
5) Rejection – Oh dear, I mentioned the most horrendous word to a writer, the dreaded rejection letter. Hey, it happens more times than not, but that is not any reason to give up. This is the very reason you send out simultaneous submissions (sim subs); when all ten come back with rejection letters, refine your search and send them to ten more prospective mags/pubs/editors.
Now your voice is being read AND heard, so what are you waiting for?