I know my story, themes and hooks are perfect for the series but I’m being told that it’s just not captivating the editorial team and I’m not being true to my ‘author voice’. A) What does this mean and B) how can I fix it?!
Wikipedia defines the ‘author voice’ as:
The individual writing style of an author, a combination of their common usage of syntax, diction, punctuation, character development, dialogue, etc.
For us editors, your author voice is the single, defining factor that makes your characters and story world come to life in a way that is entirely unique and unlike anyone else. It’s the number one thing we look for in a submission and the number one thing that really gets us excited about a story!
In this instance it seems as though you’ve fallen into an age-old trap. Instead of writing the story you want to write you’ve written the story you think we want you to write. And with so much focus on making sure you tick every box for the series it’s no surprise that your author voice has been lost in the process. How can it thrive when it’s being forced into fitting a prescribed model? If a submission hits the promise of the series but feels…pleasant – lacking passion or enthusiasm – and the editor isn’t captivated, how can they expect readers to be?
So, let’s make a pact – between you, lovely authors and the Harlequin editorial team – to once and for all lie the ‘pleasant read’ to rest. How best to do so? We’ve compiled our Top Tips for staying true to your author voice, captivating your audience and making your submission stand out from the crowd!
- Find the right series for you – ‘Be true to your author voice’
It’s time for a hard truth: just because it’s your favorite series in the world it isn’t necessarily the series that you are meant to write for. Take a moment to think about the kind of stories you love to write – the ones where the words fall easily onto the page (sometimes so quickly you can’t even keep up!) THIS is where your author voice will truly shine. Once you’ve nailed down this sweet spot, compare it to Harlequin’s many varied series to see which one is truly right for you. You might be surprised at where you end up!
- Turn classic themes and hooks on their heads – ‘We want to see your story’
We do understand that it’s a balancing act – delivering a story that’s both on promise for the series and a complete innovation in the genre but when it’s done right it can be phenomenal! So challenge yourself. Push the barriers and explore previously unanticipated avenues into your story world and characters that will really make your story stand apart.
- Don’t be afraid to take (and seek!) feedback – ‘Be Brave…it’ll only hurt for a minute’
The best authors understand that although writing is largely a solitary pursuit, it’s ultimately a collaborative process. Your editor is simultaneously your teammate, your number one fan and your harshest critic but everything they do is for one purpose: to help the story be the best it can possibly be. Feedback is an essential part of the writing process so, good or bad, embrace it! Taking the time to take the feedback on board and learn from it will save you time and energy in future by helping you to maximise your potential, learning your strengths and areas for improvement.
- Have Fun!
It’s always clear to editors when you’ve had a great time writing a story because your enthusiasm, excitement and passion leap off the page. The more fun you have writing it the more fun we’ll have reading it!
Do you have a question about your writing or your manuscript that you want answering? Then email it over to the SOLD team at SOLD-Blog@Harlequin.ca!