Creative and Memoir Writing   November 2, 2022

Carol Brennan King

Call it Kharma, Fate, or God’s intervention, but several things fell into place for what we talked about in class today. Voice and writing and how very important your voice is.

It goes like this: I have been struggling with what to do with the manuscript for my current writing project, a book. A historical fiction book. Do I self-publish and save myself from the fierce competition for an agent or publisher? Do I find a reputable publisher who helps you publish your own book and who helps you fix what needs fixing? Do I find a self-publisher/vanity press that just prints what you send them, as is? Or do I go the Amazon route?

Coincidently, in my latest email from Writer’s Relief, I found they had an opening for manuscripts like mine. They accept about

20% of their submissions annually, and once accepted, their professionals help you with the query letter, refining your manuscript, and all the other parts of a submission packet.

So I sent them my third revision of my query letter, 15 pages of the manuscript (as they asked), and a synopsis of the book. Now, I did know that their services came at a fee. At the end of two or three months of working with you to improve your work, they give you a list of 25 agents who handled books like yours…and were looking for such a manuscript.

Within a couple of days, I heard back. Here’s an excerpt from their letter: “Thank you for your writing samples. Our Review Board found that your writing is strong enough to offer you a place among our Full Service cliets. We don’t typically offer personalized editorial feedback, but we did want to take a moment that we especially enjoyed your unique voice, and we thank you for sharing your writing with us.”

Those words are what I talked about in class, the voices you will use as a writer.

  1. The character’s voice: each character should sound like him or herself. Think favorite words, slang, those words or expressions that could reveal their mood, age, experience, health, and energy level. Some people still precede everything they say with, “Like….” It is those kinds of things that tell us more about the character than just the content of their speech and interactions.
  2. The second voice that shows up in our writing is our own as the author. Do you notice everything related to feelings and your writing shows that? It is not a bad thing. Or is your writing spare, devoid of speaking about feelings, but perhaps showing them. “He pushed the door open with his foot and threw his armful of books into the room.” You figure out how he is feeling by what he does, not by the scene-setting you might do.
  3. Then we come to the third voice, the narrator’s voice. In my book, the narrator is a long-dead Irish story-teller. Irish story-teller, did you catch that? I wanted the reader to be reminded that this is an Irish story told by an Irish narrator. How to do that? I decided to pick about six or eight Irish words or expressions that would show up, some of them fairly frequently, and the meaning of which would be pretty clear by their context.

I believe that the reviewers at this agency were responding to the latter. I heard twice more from them after this letter. Among other things was this phrase:

Thank you for submitting your good writing to the Review Board. We are very glad to see you are joining Writer’s Relief,

Their response was a bit premature as it turned out I did not feel that I was not in the place to pay for their services just then, and wrote that back to them. That letter was followed up this way:

We understand that our services are a commitment. Though we’re sad to see you go, we hope you continue writing as you’re a gifted writer.

Make of that what you will. My point is that we must pay attention that our voice and the voice of our characters and narrators all are unique, even if in a small way.

For more on the subject of voices, go to https://www.thebookdesigner.com/voice-in-writing/#:~:text=There%20are%20three%20distinct%20types,but%20they%20are%20always%20present.

For more about Writer’s Relief, go to https://writersrelief.com I must say there are people that say Writer’s Relief is a scam. I am not so sure. It looks to me as though you pay for services rendered. They never say they publish your book, only that they help you get it ready, and they supply a list of agents who could help you on the next step. That’s not a scam.

And if you want to know more about publishing on Amazon, check out:

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing: Self Publishing

https://kdp.amazon.com

I have a doctor friend who publishes mysteries and his wife has published her first child’s book that way.

Note: there are a lot of sites out there that claim to be Amazon, but really are scams. I checked that out myself for research for this column.

So, if you made it to these lines, you have learned a lot, about several things:

Three Voices

Writer’s Relief

Publishing on Amazon

I will be taking a winterbreak soon, so if you have questions about other writing related matters, let me know.

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